Dula wins prestigious grant at international conference

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Adrion Dula sitting at a table.

Adrion Dula, graduate teaching assistant and doctoral student in the Department of Classical and Modern, Languages, Literatures and Cultures (CMLLC) presented at the Foreign Language Education and Technology (FLEAT6) Conference held August 11through 15, 2015 at Harvard University. The FLEAT6 conference was sponsored by the International Association for Language Learning Technology (IALLT) and the Japan Association for Language Education and Technology (JLET).

IALLT is a professional organization whose members provide leadership in the development, integration, evaluation and management of instructional technology for the teaching and learning of language, literature and culture and hosts biennial conferences at different U.S. educational institutions. Adrion was one of the winners of IALLT's Ursula Williams Graduate Student Conference Grant which is awarded to worthy graduate students to enable them to attend IALLT's biennial conference.

The grant also encourages students to become more familiar with the integration of technology in language education by engaging with other professionals at the conference. The grant involves a $500 scholarship which is to be used to offset conference-related travel expenses. Her travel was also supported by a travel grant from Wayne State University's Humanities Center.

Earlier in fall 2014, Adrion Dula had presented in the Foreign Language Technology Center (FLTC)'s brown bag series on "The Effectiveness of Computer Assisted Pronunciation Teaching (CAPT)," a research project she developed for a course with Professor Felecia Lucht. At this session, she talked about the recent popularity of CAPT tools that provide autonomous, personalized and automatic feedback.

The types of CAPT tools she discussed in her presentation were speech analysis, text-to-speech, and automatic speech recognition (ASR) or speech-to-text. She discussed the CAPT technologies available to instructors, the CAPT tools most and least beneficial to learners based on the current research, and the incorporation of innovative CAPT technologies, such as Google's search by voice (speech-to-text) and the iPhone's and iPad's Siri, into language courses.

Given the success of this brown bag presentation, FLTC's director Sangeetha Gopalakrishnan encouraged Adrion to submit a proposal for the upcoming FLEAT6 conference at Harvard University. Adrion then implemented CAPT technology in her introductory French course with the mentorship of Professor Kate Paesani. 

At FLEAT6, Adrion presented on "Pronunciation Teaching Using Automatic Speech Recognition" and did an outstanding job. In her session, she discussed the results of her study which explored students' perceptions of the pedagogical implementation of ASR technology in teaching French pronunciation with a communicative and task-based approach.

Specifically, her study examined introductory-level French students' use of Google's Dictation application and Search by Voice internet browsing, and Apple's Siri, as each program provides speakers with indirect pronunciation feedback in the form of a textual representation of speech.

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