SLaTE - the ISCA Special Interest Group on Speech and Language Technology in Education
SLTC Newsletter, April 2010
Education is an important and compelling application domain for speech and language technologies. Early applications, such as spelling and grammar checkers and the use of compressed natural speech or synthetic speech in "talking" electronic reading books for children, were supplemented in the early 1990s by more sophisticated applications that exploited the most recent developments in automatic speech recognition technology. The applications fell into two main categories, second language learning, and reading, pronunciation and language tuition tools for children learning their first language. It is interesting to note that these applications pose significant challenges even for modern-day speech recognition technology, namely recognition of non-native and children's speech.
The 1998 STiLL Workshop
STiLL, the first ISCA (International Speech Communication Association) workshop on Speech Technology in Language Learning, was organized by the Department of Speech Music and Hearing at KTH Stockholm and held at Marholmen, Sweden, in May 1998. Of the forty six papers presented, 85% were concerned with second language learning, mainly for adults, and 15% addressed native language pronunciation, primarily for children. As the name implies, the emphasis of the workshop was on speech technology, with over 40% of the papers concerned with applications of automatic speech recognition, 13% with speech synthesis and 13% with visualisation. Only 5% of the papers addressed aspects of language or dialogue.
STiLL was followed in 2000 by inSTiL, held at the University of Abertay in Dundee, Scotland, and then by the InSTIL/ICALL 2004 Symposium on Computer Assisted Learning in Venice, Italy.
SLaTE Special Interest Group and the SLaTE workshops
SLaTE, the ISCA special interest group on Speech and Language Technology in Education, was created at Interspeech 2006 in Pittsburgh. It is chaired by Maxine Eskenazi from Carnegie-Melon University. The group's name reflects the intention to embrace all applications of speech and language technologies in education, and not only language learning. SLaTE held its first workshop, SLaTE 2007, in Farmington, Pennsylvania, USA in October 2007. The workshop prompted a special issue of Speech Communication on Speech and Language Technology in Education (Speech Communication volume 51, issue 10, October 2009). The special issue includes a number of expanded versions of papers from SLaTE 2007.
SLaTE 2009 was held at Wroxall Abbey Estate, Warwickshire, England as an Interspeech 2009 satellite workshop. The workshop was truly international, attracting 70 delegates representing universities, companies and government organizations in 19 different countries. As in previous workshops, the majority of the papers and demonstrations were concerned with the application of speech and language technologies to language learning and reading tuition, with a significant number addressing automatic pronunciation assessment. However, as with the 2007 workshop, SLaTE 2009 saw a growing emphasis on dialogue systems, interactive games, and conversational agents for language learning, together with approaches to automatic generation of content for language learning applications. The SLaTE 2009 proceedings are accessible online.
Future SLaTE Workshops
In September 2010 SLaTE is co-organizing an Interspeech satellite workshop on "Second Language Studies: Acquisition, Learning, Education and Technology" in Tokyo, Japan. The third SLaTE workshop is scheduled to take place in 2011 in Venice, Italy.
Martin Russell is a Professor in the School of Electronic, Electrical & Computer Engineering at the University of Birmingham, UK. Labs Research. Email: email@example.com