Project LISTEN (Literacy Innovation that Speech Technology ENables) is an inter-disciplinary research project at Carnegie Mellon University to develop a novel tool to improve literacy – an automated Reading Tutor that displays stories on a computer screen, and listens to children read aloud. To provide a pleasant, authentic experience in assisted reading, the Reading Tutor:

  • Takes turns with the child picking stories from Weekly Reader and other sources – including user-authored stories
  • Adapts Carnegie Mellon’s Sphinx speech recognizer to analyze the child’s oral reading
  • Intervenes when it notices the reader make a mistake, get stuck, click for help, or encounter difficulty
  • Gives spoken and graphical feedback based on expert reading teachers, but adapted to the capabilities and limitations of the technology

The Reading Tutor runs under WindowsTM on an ordinary personal computer.  Though not (yet) a commercial product, the Reading Tutor has been used daily by hundreds of children in field tests at schools in the United States, Canada, Ghana, and India.  Thousands of hours of usage logged at multiple levels of detail, including millions of words read aloud, provide unique opportunities for educational data mining.

Project LISTEN has received support by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Educational Sciences (IES), the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), and the Heinz Endowments.  Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation, the U. S. Department of Education, the Institute of Educational Sciences, the U.S. Department of Defense, or the Heinz Endowments.