Eight interns from Microsoft have developed a new tool for language learning, which aims to help people of different ages to learn in the language of the names of the objects from the surrounding world. To use the app, called Read My World, to learn more than 1500 words, you just need to take pictures of various items using your smartphone’s camera, and the rest the app will do for you.
As the developers say apps, it is designed to complement conventional learning in class, and for those who want to develop their vocabulary of foreign words, but not the owner sufficient time or resources to classroom training. Instead of classical lessons, users are encouraged to just take pictures of what they face in their daily lives.
Read My World uses a combination of Microsoft Cognitive Services and APIs computer vision to identify objects in photos. The application then displays the correct spelling of the word, and suggest how it should sound correct phonetic pronunciation. Pictures corresponding to these words can also be saved in the personal dictionary in the app for later use.
Finally, the app encourages users to practice their newly discovered words with three built-in games. Vocabulary of 1500 words may seem small, but in fact it is close to the number of words that are capable of learning most people learning a foreign language through traditional teaching methods. For example, according to the BBC report, many language learners try to learn 2000-3000 words even after several years of study. In fact, one study in Taiwan showed that after nine years of learning a foreign language students will not learn even the most frequently used 1000 words.
After collecting feedback from teachers and students who tested an earlier version of the app, the development team added a feature which allows to discover words in various documents. It is not like Lens Google when it says something the words just translated into your native language. Instead, words are highlighted that can be identified, so you can hear their pronunciation and see the previously added picture, so you already know what it is.
The app will initially be available for testing and providing feedback to individual organizations. Those who work with communities with low literacy or non-profit organizations can request an invitation to join the experiment by filling in a special form.
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