When learning a foreign language, accurate pronunciation of new vocabulary words can be one of the toughest skills to master. As the language-learning world becomes more and more digital, language learners are more likely to turn to online tools, such as Google Translate, for pronunciation help. However, the computer voice often sounds robotic, garbled, and difficult to understand.
In order to improve its text-to-speech function, Google Translate has recently added a feature to slow down the speech for users to understand the translation more clearly. After translating text to another language, clicking on the ‘listen’ button once will play the words at a normal speed. Clicking on the button a second time will play the words at a slower speed. The third click plays the translation at a normal speed again, and each additional click would continue to alternate between normal and slow speech.
This innovation is a step towards simulating natural speech online, and will help language learners better differentiate words and sounds. Online forums and blogs, such as 9to5Google and Google Operating System Blog have also commented positively on this new feature. It is still not as clear or natural-sounding as live speech, but can be a great additional research for language learners everywhere.