Korean Accented English Pronunciation Simulator

Most (traditional or online) English dictionaries provide only phoneme-based and word-based pronunciation, which may not be of practical help to ESL/EFL (English as a Second/Foreign Language) learners who wish to obtain more accurate information of English pronunciation. For example, the differences between aspirated [] in key vs. unaspirated [] in ski and between light [] in late vs. dark [] in tale are not displayed in most dictionaries. In addition, many phonological rules such as palatalization apply not only within words but also across word boundaries. However, to my knowledge, there has been no dictionary dealing with the pronunciation of phrases or sentences.

Most adult ESL/EFL learners have accents when speaking English. Such an interlanguage phonology is, in most cases, influenced by their native tongue. That is, they tend to keep the syllable structure of their native language and to transfer the phonological rules of their native language to English. In many cases, they do not recognize the problems of their English pronunciation.

There are two types of KAEPS systems. The first one is a rule-based system. Its initial version was designed for a course project of "Perl Programming" taught by Prof. Catherine N. Ball in the spring of 1997 at Georgetown University. It stimulates three types of English pronunciations in the IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet) symbols:

  1. a phoneme-based English pronunciation,
  2. a desirable allophone-based American English pronunciation, and
  3. a possible Korean accented English pronunciation.
The other one is an OT(Optimality Theory)-based system, which focuses on generating three possible Korean accented English pronunciations according to the proficiency level of Korean EFL students. The fundamental concepts of this system was adopted from Prof. Michael Hammond's (1995) Constraint-based Syllable Parser. However, this OT-based KAEPS is a much more complicated and elaborated system. It was developed as part of my Ph.D. dissertation, "The Interlanguage Phonology of Korean Learners of English: A Computational Implementation based on Optimality Theoretic Constraints."

The KAEPS system itself is not a CALL (Computer Assisted Language Learning) system. However, it may lead to the development of a CALL system and will be useful to Korean learners of English, EFL teachers whose students are Koreans, and Interlanguage phonology researchers.

[last updated January 21, 2000]
Hyouk-Keun Kim
Computational Linguistics Program at Georgetown University