Chilin Shih 

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Measures of Tone Difficulty

Friday, October 25th, 2013 Time: 2:15pm-3:30pm

Place: Room C415A (basement level), CUNY Graduate Center (365 5th Ave, between
34str. & 35str)


Measures of difficulty is needed in many real life as well as
computer-simulated applications.  Such measures for text, math and science
have long received academic and industrial attention due to the demands for
k-12 curriculum, instruction and assessment. Comparable studies for speech
sound are lacking, though the demand is on the rise given the popularity of
on-line second language (L2) teaching software.

In this talk, I will explore the measures of Chinese lexical tone difficulty
for the purpose of building an on-line adaptive system for L2 pronunciation
training.  I will investigate how L2 item difficulty ratio (correct
responses/total responses) can be explained by acoustic properties of tones,
range of production variation and confusability.  The study focuses on
monosyllabic tones, thus isolating the task from traditional measurements of


Chilin Shih is Helen Corley Petit Scholar and associate professor in
Linguistics and East Asian Languages and Cultures at the University of
Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her work is situated at the intersection of
language technologies, language teaching and linguistics with a focus on tone
and prosody modeling and its application to second language education.