Pilot case

Say it in Finnish

Developing a spoken language practice tool for Finnish as a foreign language.
Say it in Finnish

Pilot leader

Aija Elg


Language Centre


Dec 2017 – June 2018


The Say It in Finnish pilot project is developing a spoken language practice tool for Aalto University students who are learning Finnish as a foreign language. Initially the tool is specific to native speakers of Arabic. We have chosen Arabic because of its relatively high demand and the availability of speech corpora.

The Say it in Finnish tool uses automatic speech recognition to listen to learners who are reading phrases aloud from a computer screen. An automatic speech recognition system tracks the reader in real-time. Once a sufficient number of utterances are collected, the pronunciations are analysed on a phone level. Each phone segment is mapped to a space of phonemes comprising both the target and source languages. Speech recognition alignments are used as the basis for determining which phoneme is being attempted. Statistics from this procedure and an inter-word latency measure are used to predict teacher-given scores. Phoneme-level feedback is generated from patterns in the phoneme mapping errors.

The tool aims to provide fair and relevant feedback on pronunciation and fluency. To ensure fairness, the program validates the speech recognition system output. To offer relevant feedback, the program takes into account the particular disfluencies of non-native speech.

Research shows that speech recognition tools help improve both the perception and production of learners. Improving pronunciation takes time and human teachers may not have enough resources to provide the individual attention and feedback that learners need. Repetitive pronunciation tasks are time-consuming and learners are often too shy to practice and to receive corrective feedback in class. Software tutoring provides learners with a flexible and private environment. Furthermore, its use frees teachers to focus on interactive, communicative skills in the classroom.

Involved courses

LC-7004 – Survival Finnish (1 ECTS)
LC-7007 – Survival Finnish for Exchange Students (1 ECTS)
Introductory Finnish MOOC


Aija Elg
Language Centre
Pilot leader

Aku Rouhe

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