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Application of Speech Technology to Language Learning in China. Wen He Education Technology Co. Ltd August 2007. Overview. Context & Problems of Spoken English Training in China Use of Speech Technology by Wen He Spoken English Software Service Results. Current Situation in China.

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Application of speech technology to language learning in china

Application of Speech Technology to Language Learning in China

Wen He Education Technology Co. Ltd August 2007

Overview China

Context & Problems of Spoken English Training in China

Use of Speech Technology by Wen He

Spoken English Software Service


Current situation in china
Current Situation in China China

Over 220 million K-12 students

English training mandatory from grade 3

Less than 2% of English teachers can speak English

Class size typically 40 to 60 students

To address the task effectively, millions of native English teachers would be required at a cost of billions of dollars annually

Problems we address
Problems We Address China

High cost, low margin, low quality, non-scalable processes characterize spoken English instruction

Extraordinary expenditures in the private sector, but very poor results for students

Traditional approaches are generally inefficient, excessively costly, and too time-consuming…

Our mission
Our Mission China

Improve people’s lives and opportunities through engaging, widely accessible education

Wen he education
Wen He Education China

Set up based on “IT-based English Teaching and Learning System” project by the Ministry of Education of China.

The project was set up to improve spoken English training, practice, and testing through technology, particularly speech technology.

A key part of Wen He’s mission is to empower students, teachers, parents, and schools, with its training and performance management system.

Currently operating in over 5 cities, Wen He expects to operate in over 40 cities next year.

Application of speech technology to language learning in china

Module offers context-based conversational practice in English (ASR)

Character speaks English to student and student must respond by speaking English

Module helps student speak by reading aloud (ASR)

Virtual teacher listens for correct pronunciation

Module used to learn phrases and words

Neurolinguistic programming using multimodal interaction exercises / multiple associations (ASR & mouse)

Text, sound & graphics

Only highly scalable spoken English testing service (ASR & mouse)

Module provides a variety of reports to students, parents, teachers & administrators

Based on the interaction of using any or all WH modules.

Current Online Services

Value proposition for end users
Value Proposition for English (ASR)End Users

Engaging & Fun!

Multiple Games & Stories

Convenience is Critical


Tailored to Individual Needs

Feedback & Assessment

Accountability Mechanism

Proven to Work

Thousands of conversations, high frequency of use

Primary school
Primary School English (ASR)

Courses: Vocabulary, Conversation, Review, Games…

Application of speech technology to language learning in china

Middle School English (ASR)

Features of the program
Features of the Program English (ASR)

Portfolio of pedagogies

Relevant English

Hollywood writers for editing


Native Speakers

Hollywood actors for voice casting


Human — Computer Interaction

Easy for users to follow


Excellent evaluation system to track progress

Actionable feedback

Reporting System

Various motivational approaches

for learning


Practice your spoken English at anytime anywhere


Case study
Case Study English (ASR)

Purpose – compare the performance of sixth grade students in China learning to speak English using either software from Wen He (WH) or traditional classroom methods, including exposure to trained native English speakers.

Goal – determine the relative effectiveness of both methods on measures of spoken English skills, cost effectiveness, ease of implementation, and scalability.

Methodology – pretest-post-test comparison of students with traditional classroom instruction (including native English speaking teachers) and students who study spoken English using the WH software.

Tests taken – same tests of spoken English, listening, reading, and writing for both pretest and post-test for the two groups

Duration – 8 weeks

Participants – 121 Grade Six students at Dawang International School

Results English (ASR)

  • Sponsor – China Education Television

  • Co-sponsor – Shandong Education Commission of Ministry of Education of China (MOE)

  • Location – Dawang International School, Shandong Province, China

Conclusions English (ASR)

WH software program engenders a higher degree of interactivity – audio and tactile stimulation – hence a higher degree of experience with spoken English.

because of the engaging materials on which the WH software program is based, it also provides a much higher degree of motivation to master spoken English than do traditional classroom methods.

Even though the WH software is designed primarily to teach spoken English, the effectiveness of the program carries over to other areas of English language learning, including reading and writing skills.

Comparison scalability
Comparison – Scalability English (ASR)

Traditional Classroom Instruction – Low

Average of 10 students/teacher/class

A total of 50 students/teacher/day.

Thus for over 200 million students in China, over 4 million native English teachers would be required.

– This exceeds the number of all teachers in the USA.

– Training non-native English teachers to meet the requirement would take far too long considering the objectives of the various education institutions in China.

WH English Software Program – High

China manufactures tens of millions of PC’s, that it currently is the second largest PC market in the world and is the second largest Internet market in the world

WH software clearly provides a scalable solution for teaching spoken English as a Second Language.

Comparison cost
Comparison – Cost English (ASR)

Traditional Classroom Instruction – High

Average monthly salary for ESL teachers is about $2,500, and rising.

With travel, recruiting, and housing costs added, the total cost per month per teacher becomes $3,500.

The monthly cost per student becomes about $70 per month with trained teachers.

Cost per hour of time on task - $35

Schools do not have the resources to pay

WH English Software Program – Low

Monthly cost of the service - $12.50

Cost per hour of time on task - $1.25

PC ownership in households with children varies from 30% to 90%

Parents (and extended family) have the resources

Comparison ease of implementation
Comparison English (ASR)– Ease of Implementation

Traditional Classroom Instruction – Low

If trained English-speaking teachers, adequate classrooms, and sufficient funds are available, implementation is relatively straightforward.

However, there are not adequate funds or classrooms, and there are nowhere near the number of required trained native English teachers.

Thus extremely difficult to implement on any widespread basis.

WH English Software Program – High

The time necessary to implement WH spoken English software services is typically a couple of hours

Students are enrolled and assigned login names and passwords.

Both PC's and Internet connectivity are readily available in China

Study summary
Study Summary English (ASR)

The software program scores much higher than the traditional classroom method on effectiveness, scalability, cost, and ease of implementation.

The traditional school classroom approach is simply not scalable, while the software can be widely deployed now.

The cost of the software service is over 95% lower than the classroom costs.

The current version of Wen He software now provides student feedback and reporting for teachers and parents, further enhancing the advantage the software has over traditional classroom instruction.

Summary English (ASR)

Large challenges in spoken English education in China

Application of speech technology in the educational industry — significant impact on lives

Key is to understand how applications can provide value to schools, teachers, parents, and students

Manage expectations

Our customers smile using our speech applications

Wide-scale proven effectiveness

Application of speech technology to language learning in china

Thank You! English (ASR)