CALL: Configuration as comparative sound recorder

Audacity has all the tools for use as an individual, non-commercial “Language Lab” for self study (Comparative Sound Recorder for individual learning of foreign language discrimination and pronunciation).

I have spent many hours trying to configure it for this purpose without a usable result.

Given the increasing need for foreign language learning, including ESL, and the diverse uses of Audacity, I am posting in hopes that someone has managed a successful adaptation, and would be willing to share the adaptation procedure.

My primary interest is regional and colloquial models that I can capture using portable field recording devices, with permission; however, the same configuration should serve conventional and generally accepted models.

So what exactly is it that you need help with? What exactly are you trying to do?

A basic language lab, since the reel to reel days, was a "listen to a recorded model, record an imitation of the model, then compare the recorded imitation to the recorded model. By repeating this process, the students imitation gradually becomes closer to the model.

This requires two tracks, one for the model, and the other to record the model followed by the imitation. There is usually a fixed or variable backspace, for repetition.

Audacity has all these capabilities. A few years back I spent a couple of weeks trying to accomplish this, with no success.

One problem seemed to be the sheer power of Audacity interfered with a relatively simple function.

I wondered then if it were possible to construct a simplified “front end”, limited to just the functions needed.

I am no suggesting anyone do this. Just enquiring whethet it has been done, and available.

Sony markets a program “Comparative Sound Recorded” for use with language and music learning. The brochure would explain the process better than I

Thanks for responding.

I’m interested in exactly the same thing. I can’t help you with anything specific because I just loaded Audacity into my computer today - for the same purpose. I used the “listen-speak-compare” method back in the 1960s in a university’s language lab when learning a foreign language in order to improve my pronunciation and found it super helpful. The system at the time involved a multitrack tape recorder as I recall.

My question is - have you made any progress since your last post to this forum?

Do you have the first track (the “model” that you want to imitate)?
Does it have gaps between the phrases for your repetition?

Reply to Steve. I’ve split my program flow reply into three parts because the whole thing seems to exceed the allowed size for a reply. Here’s Part 1.

Part 1:
Audacity Project: Listen-Speak-Compare or L-S-C 7/7/2019
Three examples of a “list”
Individual sounds or letters: w, n, p, t, …….
Single words: dog, cat, house, picnic, …….
Phrases: Is that a dog?, Yes that is a dog., Is that a cat?, No that is not a cat., ………
Four Buttons:
(Which list?) (Start next L-S-C cycle) (Repeat current L-S-C cycle) (Reset Tracks & exit Audacity)

START: Each “list” has a name or number. Pick any available list. Chosen list audio is loaded onto Track 1. If START button is pressed after NEXT has been pressed, then Track 1 is cleared and program returns to ‘pick a list status.’ If NEXT has not been pressed, START continues to offer the choice of a list. No action required on Track 1.

Here’s part 2.

Part 2:
NEXT: First press of NEXT after a list has been selected – first sound, word, or phrase on Track 1 is spoken and Track 1 pauses until end of L-S-C cycle.
Next press of NEXT – next sound, word or phrase on Track 1 is spoken ……. Whenever Track 1 pauses, a ‘beep’ is sounded and microphone line to
Track 2 is connected for student to speak. Microphone line is connected for 150% of the time interval used on track 1 for the sound, word, or
phrase [student needs time to react and may speak more slowly than instructor’s recording on Track 1.] At end of 150% period, double ‘beep’ is
sounded indicating that student’s talk time has ended. After double ‘beep’ student hears Track 1 instructor’s voice followed immediately by
his/her own voice from Track 2.

Here’s part 3.

Part 3:
Student now has choice of pressing any one of the buttons.

  1. If student presses START, they can pick any available list.
  2. If student presses NEXT, they can practice next sound, word or phrase on current list in another L-S-C
  3. If student presses REPEAT, the current sound, word, or phrase is repeated in another L-S-C cycle.
  4. If student is finished using the L-S-C program, they press EXIT and the program closes.

End of the three parts.

There is no way to configure Audacity to do that. It would be “possible” (but rather complex) to create a Python application that uses Audacity as the back end for playing and recording. There is some information here about controlling Audacity from Python

If you already know a bit of Python programming, then this could be an interesting challenge. If you are unfamiliar with Python, then this is probably too complex for a first Python program.

Thanks Steve. I am unfamiliar with Python so I’ll have to try something else or simply give up.