A language learning tool and the Qi 本 Nanonote

Wolfgang Spraul wolfgang at qi-hardware.com
Sun Aug 23 23:13:07 EDT 2009


Richard,

> The key will be the learning bundle format and its ability to leverage
> existing content in the form of MP3s and dialog transcripts.

Can we convert the data to a free format such as Ogg Vorbis and use that
instead? MP3 is a patent minefield and we want to stay as far away from
it as possible.

Wolfgang

On Sun, Aug 23, 2009 at 10:34:35AM -0700, Richard Sharpe wrote:
> On Sun, Aug 23, 2009 at 1:46 AM, Mirko Lindner<mirko at qi-hardware.com> wrote:
> > Hey,
> >
> > this sounds great. An application suite perfect for the Ben NanoNote and its
> > users. A huge project though, but certainly worth the effort.
> 
> Thank you for your comments ... I have been thinking about this for a
> couple of years now.
> 
> The key will be the learning bundle format and its ability to leverage
> existing content in the form of MP3s and dialog transcripts.
> 
> Initially I could probably manually produce the timing info using
> something like Audacity, as I have a reasonable amount of experience
> in looking at audio tracks with Audacity. That would certainly allow
> me to prototype the Qi version of the playing/learning tool. The
> workbench could come afterwards and there might be several versions.
> 
> I think that once such a tool is available, content producers will
> make use of it.
> 
> > Do you know if there is similar project attempts? I only found site like
> > busuu and forvo but no FLOSS desktop application.
> > Would you want to collaborate with them?
> 
> I am not aware of any similar attempts, but that does not mean there
> are none. Thanks for pointing out busuu and forvo to me, I was not
> aware of them. Busuu seems focussed on European languages, which are
> not really my interest :-)
> 
> I would collaborate with anyone who is interested, as that will bring
> this to fruition that much sooner.
> 
> > Again, great initiative!
> > Let us know if we can help in any way.
> >
> > /mirko
> >
> > On Sat, Aug 22, 2009 at 6:30 PM, Richard Sharpe
> > <realrichardsharpe at gmail.com> wrote:
> >>
> >> Hi folks,
> >>
> >> here is an idea I have been mulling around for quite some time,
> >> waiting for the right hardware platform to come along.
> >>
> >> As a student of Mandarin Chinese who has downloaded lots of
> >> chinesepod.com and imandarinpod.com MP3s, I have wanted additional
> >> facilities to help me learn and improve my Chinese.
> >>
> >> I think that one such tool would be the following:
> >>
> >> An application on a small computer that would:
> >>
> >> Play these MP3s that can be downloaded, but:
> >>
> >> 1. Display Pinyin or characters in sync with the dialogs being presented,
> >> and
> >> 2. Highlight the Pinyin/characters as words are being spoken, and
> >> 3. Allow me to insert pauses of varying length between
> >> words/characters (syllables in Mandarin), so that I can deal with new
> >> material at a pace more suited to my abilities, and
> >> 4. Allow me to highlight characters or words (词) and have them looked
> >> up in a dictionary so I can check/reinforce their meaning and perhaps
> >> have them pronounced in isolation.
> >>
> >> It would also be useful if I could repeat characters or words and have
> >> my tones displayed and compared with a reference speaker (male or
> >> female depending on your sex).
> >>
> >> It would also be useful if it could ask me to enter the characters
> >> being used to check that I can reproduce the correct characters and so
> >> forth.
> >>
> >> For the first part with items 1 through 4 above, I envision the
> >> following pair of applications that are linked by a particular file
> >> format. The file format is:
> >>
> >> 1. A standard MP3 file as produced by a content producer, eg,
> >> imandarinpod.com
> >> 2. A timing file/segment which lists the beginning of each relevant
> >> piece of the dialogs or commentary in the MP3 file.
> >> 3. One or more associated files or segments with the Pinyin or
> >> characters that go with the dialogs and commentary.
> >> 4. An answers file/segment that contains answers to any questions
> >> asked in the dialogs/commentaries.
> >> 5. A control segment with any control information needed.
> >>
> >> Items two through five would probably be encoded in XML and the whole
> >> lot perhaps zipped up together as a learning bundle.
> >>
> >> The two programs would be:
> >>
> >> 1. The player, that runs on a Qi Nanonote. It would allow the playing
> >> of these learning bundles. It would play the MP3 file and would
> >> display the default text synchronized with the audio track by using
> >> the timing information in the timing segment/file. It would highlight
> >> the relevant words/characters as they are being pronounced on the
> >> audio track. It would allow the user to select which textual material
> >> to display from among the associated textual material files/segments
> >> in the learning bundle. It would allow the user to insert pauses in
> >> relevant places in the audio material and would fade out and fade in
> >> before and after the pauses to avoid audible clicks and other effects
> >> that would annoy the user. It would allow me to pause at any time and
> >> to highlight words etc on the screen and have them looked up a
> >> dictionary so the user can check meanings etc. It would probably also
> >> allow for selection of language to be used in menus etc. There are
> >> more features that could be added here as well. This application could
> >> be written in C or C++.
> >>
> >> 2. The Language Learner workbench, where the various associated
> >> segments etc are produced that will become part of the learning
> >> bundle. It would run on Windows, Linux and Mac OS X and might be
> >> better written in Java. It would be useful if it could automatically
> >> find all relevant break-points in the audio material, but might need
> >> help in doing so. It would also allow input of all textual material
> >> that will go in the associated files. It produce, at the end, a
> >> learning bundle with all the associated pieces of info required. It
> >> should have the ability to save intermediate information and to read
> >> back learning bundles so that changes/additions can be made to them.
> >>
> >> There are many more ideas that can be added, but I feel that these are
> >> the minimum set that would make for a useful language learning tool
> >> and that once there is a platform for playing the material and
> >> producing the material, content developers will produce the learning
> >> bundles (and possibly charge for them, but that is how they recoup
> >> their investment in content).
> >>
> >> Clearly, of course, this should not be tied to just Chinese, as it
> >> would benefit learners of any language. It just so happens that
> >> Chinese is the language I am interested in.
> >>
> >> I hope to get started on these ideas after I get hold of a 本 in
> >> October, and may do some experimenting before then ...
> >>
> >> --
> >> Regards,
> >> Richard Sharpe
> >>
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> >
> 
> 
> 
> -- 
> Regards,
> Richard Sharpe
> 
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