Unique program can help learn Russian language

Newswise – Due to the development of modern technology, more and more people want to learn foreign languages ​​at a distance. Scientists from the Southern Urals State University have developed an innovative robotic dialogue system for Russian language learning by international students; the system that makes it possible to master the language “from scratch” from any part of the world.

Russian as a foreign language at SUSU

Nowadays, around 2000 international students from 48 countries around the world study at South Urals State University in various specialties and programs. For them, the university created maximum comfort conditions for living and studying, as well as for learning Russian language and culture.

“Our university has been cooperating successfully with the Pushkin State Russian Language Institute for 4 years now. As part of the cooperation program, we carry out popularization of Russian language, culture and literature in Russia and abroad; develop and strengthen partnership links at interuniversity and international level. Our aim is to ensure that anyone who wants to learn the Russian language and has the software can learn to speak Russian correctly from scratch ”, explains Prof. Elena Kharchenko, Head of the Department of Russian as a Foreign Language, Doctor of Science (philology). .

One of the projects, titled “Development of a robotic dialogue system for the study of the Russian language by various target audiences with its subsequent use in a current system of electronic support for the study of the Russian language and the distance education in Russian “, is developed in cooperation with the Department of Information Measuring Equipment of the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, which is responsible for the software, and of the Institute of Linguistics and international communication, which is responsible for the methodology and content.

The most recent software

During the cooperative work of scientists and lecturers from SUSU, a base of voice samples of native Russian speakers was prepared, to which the method of analysis analogous to the analysis of measuring equipment and the control equipment has been implemented. As a result, scientists created and patented a robotic system comprising 3 computer programs and 1 database.

“The voice sample analysis program makes it possible to determine specific formalized characteristics on the basis of standard samples. The philologists give their expertise that we confront with the formalized features previously determined. The data obtained helped to create the training program for people learning the Russian language, ”says Dmitriy Katsai.

Scientists at SUSU were faced with a complex task: to develop the basis for both correct and incorrect pronunciation. In the course of extensive work, a phonetic catalog with standard pronunciation in the Russian language, understandable for Arab and Chinese students, was created. It includes speech samples from native Arabic and Chinese speakers with national pronunciation specifics. The catalog volume is 39,000 sound files used for the exercises as well as in the robotic dialogue system.

“Our team has already developed and recorded 4 open, nationality-focused phonetics (introductory and correctional phonetics) courses for native Arabic and Chinese speakers. In total, there are 110 lessons lasting 6 to 12 minutes with subtitles in Arabic and Chinese languages. The observed results show that over time we will be able to add new languages, which native speakers will be able to use this learning system for in the future, ”explains the SUSU scientist.

Vanya the Robot and the voice device model during class

The project aims at the development and implementation of a unique method that helps to support and develop the Russian language. To this end, scientists from the South Urals State University created a model of the vocal tract using 3D technology; there are no analogues to this model yet. In addition, the assistant Vanya the robot is also successfully used to learn Russian language. Vanya the Robot is a complex of software devices equipped with the voice recognition system, which can generate responses in Russian.

“Students react positively to these additional means used when learning the language. Vanya the robot easily releases tension and helps overcome the psychological barrier, ”explains Tatiana Isupova, postgraduate student responsible for programming the robot.

In the future, scientists plan to expand their scope of work using neural networks; they have already determined methods to improve the extent of recognition of speech samples. The main achievements are described in a series of research articles, including 3 publications in high-level scientific journals indexed in the Web of Science database.

Sylvester L. Goldfarb