Learning Chinese is a daunting task, maybe even an impossible one for most of us. But Microsoft has faith in us and our online behavior. That’s why the company made use of artificial intelligence, smartphones and apps to create a step-by-step way to teach ourselves Mandarin #mobilemagic
One week after Duolingo added Chinese Mandarin to its library, Learn Chinese showed up on the App Store. The app is completely free and uses Microsoft’ deep neural networks to recognize what the users are saying and compare it with the natives’ pronunciation. There are two modes you can choose from – beginners and intermediate.
The first mode starts simple enough – you get phrases you need to repeat until you perfect the pronunciation. In practice sessions, you need to include the phrases learned to make short conversations. Every time you make a mistake, the app points it out in red, while the successful ones are highlighted with green. Of course, you get different sample audios, too.
Microsoft’ AI makes sure the whole process isn’t too passive, prompting words you can use to enrich the sentences and therefore, giving you more freedom of speech. The intermediate mode doesn’t differ much, but you’re involved in real life scenarios this time around, like going to a restaurant. It’s more about giving you the tools to interact during a trip to China.
In each case, in order to evaluate learners’ pronunciation, the AI trained on a database constructed with native speakers and was supported by Microsoft’s text-to-speech technology.