Today I wanted to announce a new project I'm going to be working on called r/PronunciationStation, which is a subreddit focused on improved pronunciation of foreign languages.
One of the biggest struggles in language learning has to do with perfecting the accent. Some people take the wrong approach to language learning and wait until after they've got the vocabulary and grammar down before they work on fine-tuning their accent. Unfortunately, as my Japanese teacher used to say, practice does not make perfect, but rather practice makes permanent. So waiting years before you begin focusing on pronunciation is a mistake as you have given yourself years to form bad habits.
The thing is, when asking native speakers for feedback on your pronunciation, it's hard sometimes to receive honest feedback. Sometimes they might be too polite to be honest. Other times they may not have the right words to describe your accent, so they just tell you it's good because it's merely comprehensible.
It's a goal of most serious language learners to perfect their accent until they can sound native-like. I hope to achieve that myself with the languages I know and I hope to provide an easy means for other language learners to be able to receive proper and honest feedback on their pronunciation.
1. Rate My Accent.
The most basic component of the subreddit will be to rate other users on a scale of 1-5 regarding their pronunciation. 5 being the highest and native-like and 1 being absolutely atrocious (0 could be incomprehensible in the slightest).
I would want different users who are performing the ratings to also identify themselves by their native language and region so that way the person asking for their accent to be rated can better understand the ratings they are receiving.
2. Guess My Accent.
Another component I would like to have on the r/PronunciationStation subreddit is the ability for users to post using unidentifiable throw-away accounts where they can ask users to guess their accent. OP can post using either their native accent or an accent they're imitating such as British English, American English, a Spanish immigrant in America, etc. The OP can post the recording without any identifiable information and users then have to guess which accent OP is imitating. This is good for someone like me who grew up speaking Spanish, but can't recognize which accent mine most resembles. I know I speak more like a Latino than someone from Spain, but I wonder if my accent resembles a certain country's Spanish more or if it's incredibly ambiguous.
3. Request An Accent
In addition to allowing users to record their accents and have other users rate them, I want users to be able to request recordings from other users. This would allow language learners to get a variety of recordings from a number of different regions. I could ask people to pronounce, "¿Donde está la biblioteca?" and get recordings of people from Spain, Mexico, Argentina, Equatorial Guinea, etc. The greater diversity of recordings will help me better narrow down the unique characteristics that define the language's accent. As a result, I would want all people responding to respond with their country of origin as well as any other relevant information such as age and gender, which can affect the voice or the way a word is said; as in obrigado for men in Portuguese or obrigada for women.
When will this be released?
So I've had this idea for a while, but I've wanted to narrow down the details of the subreddit before I release it into the wild so that there are fewer questions or misunderstandings during the initial release. I plan on tying r/PronunciationStation with Café Lingua as r/PronunciationStation is heavily tied to language learning.
I hope that by the end of July 2019 I will have finally released r/PronunciationStation, but I'm curious if anyone has any ideas for additional features. If you have any ideas for other components you would like included in our guidelines section of our subreddit, please let us know by posting here in the comments or by sending us a message through the Café Lingua Facebook page.