Second Language Studies: Acquisition, Learning, Education and Technology

Tokyo, Japan
September 22-24, 2010

Automatic Fluency Assessment by Signal-Level Measurement of Spontaneous Speech

Suma Bhat (1), Mark Hasegawa-Johnson (1), Richard Sproat (2)

(1) Department of ECE, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, USA
(2) Center for Spoken Language Understanding, Oregon Health and Science University, USA

In its narrow sense, the term fluency connotes fluidity of speech. This study is a step in the quest for objective language assessment methods one of which is rating for oral fluency in a second language. In particular, we seek to find what measures obtained from a spontaneous utterance can be used as predictors of fluency and, to assess the utility of a set of acoustic measures obtained by signal-level measurements towards predicting fluency automatically. Experiments done using an ESL data set of spontaneous speech show that articulation rate and phonation-time ratio are good predictors of fluency, in line with earlier findings. Our contribution is to use signal-level measurements as quantifiers of perceived fluency in a logistic regression framework and to show the existence of an alternate approach to ASR-based fluency assessment, which, owing to unacceptable levels of recognition accuracies, have limited use in real testing scenarios. Our results have implications in developing fluency assessment systems for language-resource scarce settings as well as for a wide variety of testing scenarios.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Bhat, Suma / Hasegawa-Johnson, Mark / Sproat, Richard (2010): "Automatic fluency assessment by signal-level measurement of spontaneous speech", In L2WS-2010, paper O2-1.