An Adaptive Training Program for Tone Acquisition

Chilin Shih, Hsin Yi Dora Lu, Lu Sun, Jui Ting Huang, Jerry Packard

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


This paper explores ways to incorporate effective teaching methods in computer-aided pronunciation training (CAPT) programs to help second language learners acquire Mandarin lexical tones. It is hypothesized that exaggerated stimuli might help learners to identify relevant acoustic cues, varied stimuli might help them build robust classifications, and an adaptive training program would provide a platform for efficient learning. We conducted an experiment to compare four training modules: (1) a control group with no tone training, (2) training with similar stimuli, (3) training with varied stimuli in random order, and (4) training with varied stimuli through an adaptive training program. The adaptive group had the best performance: students showed an average 8.2 points improvement on a 100-point scale, or 32% error reduction, after two and a half hours of training. The experiment results also show that while varied input benefited most students, some students may have been confused by such input. Adaptive training effectively alleviated such confusion. The methodology developed here can apply straightforwardly to the teaching of speech sounds in other languages.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publication5th International Conference on Speech Prosody 2010
PublisherInternational Speech Communication Association
ISBN (Electronic)9780000000002
StatePublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes
Event5th International Conference on Speech Prosody: Every Language, Every Style, SP 2010 - Chicago, United States
Duration: May 10 2010May 14 2010

Publication series

NameProceedings of the International Conference on Speech Prosody
ISSN (Print)2333-2042


Conference5th International Conference on Speech Prosody: Every Language, Every Style, SP 2010
Country/TerritoryUnited States


  • Adaptive training
  • Difficulty ranking
  • Distance
  • Tone acquisition
  • Tone recognition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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