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Volume 17 Number 3, Autumn 2020, Pages 758-1157   

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ASR for EFL Pronunciation Practice: Segmental Development and Learners' Beliefs

    Solène Inceoglu, Hyojung Lim & Wen-Hsin Chen

The current study explored the usefulness of mobile-based automatic speech recognition (ASR) pronunciation practice by investigating a) its effects on the production of four English vowels, and b) learners' perception of ASR as a learning tool. A total of 19 Korean university students produced 28 minimal pair sentences containing the English vowel contrasts /i/-/ɪ/ and /ɛ/-/æ/ (e.g., I said beat, I said bit) at pretest and posttest, and completed six sessions of ASR practice outside of class that involved voice-typing a short text, minimal pairs in sentences, and decontextualized minimal pairs. Results of acoustic analysis of F1 and F2 formant frequencies showed a meaningful improvement in frontness for the vowel /i/, but no changes for the other vowels. Overall, the majority of the participants perceived ASR as useful for pronunciation practice, but some showed skepticism and frustration regarding the current state of the technology. Further discussed are the problems and limitations that EFL learners experienced during the ASR training.

Keywords: automatic speech recognition (ASR), EFL pronunciation, learners' beliefs, vowel production, pronunciation training