ELSA Speak: Reduce your accent is a free application for Android (and iOS) that assists you in improving your English pronunciation.
ELSA, which stands for English Language Speech Assistant coaches non-native speakers in improving their (American) English.
The app is free to try but limited. The first two lessons of each training group are free, the remaining ones are unlocked when you subscribe. A free 7-day trial is available that unlocks all lessons during that time period. Pro accounts are available for €31,99 yearly, €9,49 quarterly, or €4,19 monthly.
The app to improve your English pronunciation comes with a test that you can take that analyzes your pronunciation and gives you a native speaker score based on it. ELSA Speak will use the information to create a personalized curriculum based on the test.
ELSA Speak: Reduce your accent
You are asked to read ten text paragraphs aloud using the device’s microphone during the test. ELSA Speak analyzes your speech, and gives you a score in the end.
Probably the most interesting aspect of this is that it highlights areas that need improvement. When I ran the test for instance on the Android device, I was told that I could improve my pronunciation of voiced and unvoiced th, the letter r, ending sounds, and w/v.
You can open a detailed report when you swipe down to get the full listing of recommendations. This opens all sentences that you spoke aloud. The words are color coded, with green highlight excellent pronunciation, yellow okay-ish pronunciation, and red problematic pronunciation.
You may play the recording again, or listen to a native speaker reading the paragraphs aloud.
ELSA Speak adjusts the training based on your test results. While you don’t need to take the test, it may make sense to do so as you can start working on the main issues right away.
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Training comes in several different forms. Probably the most common forms is skills training that focuses either on specific pronunciations or topics.
A skill, say “the /s/ and /sh/ contrast” or “aspiration sounds”, consists of multiple levels that you complete one after the other.
Levels are downloaded on demand, but you may also download all levels of a skill right away. Levels may test different language skills, for instance your listening or pronunciation.
The application keeps track of your progress, and you may repeat levels or skills as often as you like.
The two other areas that you may dive in are topics and dictionary. Topics focuses on certain subjects such as career path customer service, family, travel or business. These lead to particular skills again.
Dictionary on the other hand is more of a free form training module. Type what you want to say, and listen to the pronunciation before you speak the sentence or word and get a rating for that.
ELSA Speak is a powerful application for English learners who want to work on their accent and pronunciation in general. It is a bit unfortunate that the application is not free, but if you are serious about improving your pronunciation, you may not mind the price as much, especially since you can get it for less than €3 per month if you pay yearly.