and welcome back to your favorite German learning blog of all time.
So, originally, I wanted to do a review this week and tell you about an interesting new tool. However, as I was actually using the tool to prepare the review, I actually found a couple of issues with it that are so big that I have decided that I can’t really recommend it after all, and I cancelled my review.
I didn’t have anything else prepared, but since it’s been a while already and I wanted to give you something to study, I decided that we’ll do some
Most of you probably remember from a few weeks back that EF (a big company for language travels) is working on a speech recognition AI and that we can use it here on the site.
Last time, we did a multiple choice type of activity and today, I want to try out a new type of exercise – one that helps you train common patterns and phrasings.
Here’s my idea:
We’ll take a common verb or phrase in German and then go over various important phrasings with it.
Like… we’d for instance take the verb “gefallen” for example and then do a statement, a statement with negation, a question and a statement in past tense. If you’ve ever heard of the Michel Thomas method… it’s a bit similar. So we’ll start really simple and then just modify that and make it more complex.
Ha, actually it sounds really complicated, when I explain it that way.
You’ll get the English and you have to translate it to German and SAY the answer.
You have the choice between three difficulty levels.
- Easy: You can see the German version and you just have to read it.
- Medium: You can see the German version for a second and then only keywords.
- Hard: You can see only keywords of the German version and you have to make up the sentence by yourself.
Oh and you can listen to me saying it in all three levels.
So if you pick hard mode, and you don’t listen to my version, you can practice speaking and making a sentence in German at the same time, which gets fairly close to the pressure of actually talking.
Now, the EF system doesn’t REALLY offer this type of exercise. I’m repurposing their dialogue practice for it, so the flow of the exercise is not really ideal. It’s more of a trial run to see what you think about this type of exercise in general and if you do like it, then I can talk to the folks over at EF about which options and functions would be ideal.
So yeah, because the interface is a little confusing, here’s a little overview over the practice window… proudly sponsored by Microsoft paint :)
- A: This is the English side. The audio usually plays automatically with speech synthesis in English. I have disabled that (but I can turn it on, if you want me to).
- B: This is my own version.
- C: Here’s your recorded version and the score you got. If you want to retry that particular one, just click retry on the bottom right.
- D: This auto-plays the German (either recording or speech synthesis). After that, the recording for you starts immediately. I have put silence there, so you have the option to find the answer yourself, but the recording will still start. Don’t worry if you take a while before you start speaking. The AI will just cut the silence.
- E: here, you can change the difficulty (Show full answer, Show answer for a second, show only keywords)
- F: If the button looks like this, it is ALREADY RECORDING. Clicking it, will stop the recording.
As I said… the “flow” of the exercise is not ideal. Best would be if you could see the English, think about it, maybe listen to my reference or look at the solution and then you click record yourself once you’re ready.
But that’s just not possible at the moment, so let’s try and make do with what we have :)
As I said… I just wanted to try out this type of exercise and see if it’s a helpful tool. If yes, we could use that for all the important German verbs so you can practice speaking and making sentences and also kind of “automate” a lot of important structures.
So … today, we’ll pratice three things: the verb “aussehen”, the verb “erinnern” and the phrasing for “I am cold/warm….”.
Viel Spaß :)
So, how’d it go :)?
Please please share all your feedback and thoughts in the comments. Like… what did you like, what did you not like, was it difficult, what features do you think might be useful? I want to know it all.
Oh and if you have some other ideas for speaking based exercises, let me know in the comments as well.
I hope you enjoyed this one, have a great week und bis bald.
Practice Past Tense – by speaking
The layout is easier to understand in the Practice Past Tense. With this one, I used the Easy version and I was not sure when and where to start the recording.
Yeah, this version is the one built completely by EF, but I wasn’t satisfied, so I built my own interface (The one from the past tense).
IT WAS AMAZINGLY DONE, i love it
Glad to hear that, danke :)
Hallo Leute! New member here! Just wanted to give a massive thanks to the sponsors that made it possible for people like me to become a member! I hope to return the favor by the same efforts in the future. Vielen, vielen Dank!
Hier kann ich meine deutsche Sprache lernen und sogar beherrschen. fr
What’s up with that hidden casino link? I will totally delete this!
This is great, but please keep providing online versions, like this https://speak.ef.com/go/theater/a-p6c47m. I could not get the other one to work on my (older) Mac. These are great for speaking practice, and I agree about needing different formats for exercises.
I guess I’ll leave a link in the future, until I got the recording part moved to my own page (that would then make it easier).
It didn’t really work for me. The flow is clunky (as you noted), and I got several errors (the record button turned red and promoted me to try again). And the evaluations seemed pretty random. Sometime I thought I gave a pretty good answer and scored zero. Other times I completely mangled it and scored 70%! I do like the idea of it giving feedback about which word was wrong, rather than a blanket yes or no, but it’s not reliable enough yet.
Es hat mir sehr gefallen – obwohl die Übungen ein bisschen leicht war, habe ich viele Fehler gemacht … wie in einem Gespräch! Es war nützlich die richtige Aussprache zu hören, sowohl auch eine Note fur die betonung zu erhalten.
… as with the previous speaking exercise, it would be great if there was some kind of detail on why the system didn’t like eg pronunciation (eg where in the word the sound was wrong)…
When in doubt, blame it on the system. As I said before… I am a native speaker and I barely ever get perfect marks unless I get close to the mic and overenunicate :)
Very good exercise, challenging not to trip over one’s words the first few times… It doesn’t like my ‘Wie’ for some reason that I can’t discern… vielleicht meine Aussprache, wenn nicht die künstliche Intelligenz….
It is definitely a bit glitchy. For instance, I have trouble making it accept my “du”. The quality of the mic plays a big role and the distance from the mic also. The main point really is to say the right answer, not to nail the pronunciation 100%.
I think, ironically enough, training pronunciation is NOT the main benefit of this tool :)
Hello Emanuel, I started this course so that I could learn beginner german. I have no knowledge of the language, so I needed to start at the most basic level. In the beginning, there was a basic grammar section . However, that disappeared shortly thereafter. I am unable to progress because I need to keep reviewing the basics. I hope you will restore that basic grammar segment for me to enable me to keep learning from there.
I’m not sure what grammar segment you’re talking about, to be honest.
As an absolute beginner, you should read the section “essentials” in my grammar course. That has not disappeared, though, so I don’t think that’s what you’re referring to.
Hi Emanuel, I found that the hardest level provided quite a good way to test myself on recall and fluency. However the AI tool is ….how to put this politely? … rather random in its assessments. At times I got high scores even though I’d made errors, conversely at times I received low scores even for perfect answers, including a zero per cent a couple of times. My German really isn’t that bad! So my conclusion: it’s a nice idea as a language-practice tool, but the AI aspect needs a lot more work.
Yeah, it’s definitely glitchy. I sometimes get a complete “fail” on a word, even though I am a native speaker. Subtle noise in the background or too big a distance from the mic can have a HUGE impact.
I honestly don’t think the purpose of AI is pronunciation training, though. You need feedback from a (competent) native speaker to really tell you what an issue is.
AI based systems are a great way to get people to speak. Saying it’s a “prounciation trainer” is kind of a distraction from the fact that it’s actually just a normal quiz.
There’s a HUGE lack in the quiz-world online. So much multiple choice, typing or moving boxes.
I think 70% of that should be moved to a setup like what I am using. That would really make a different for people, and also it’s less tiring that just clicking screens by yourself.
Ok, thanks, Emanuel reassuring to know that even you get a “fail” with the AI tool occasionally.
For me the stand-out bit about your site are the background explanations/musings on the etymology/patterns of use for verbs and prepositions.
I can almost “see” prepositions like auf, ab, usw, also the “r” words …as if they are people! Ditto for verbs like leiten, heben… und so weiter und so fort.
Super interesting exercise. To flog a dead horse, having a manual start instead of the “Oh God, we’re underway…” auto-start would lower the stress levels somewhat. But yeah, it’s actually rather similar to that mad rush (start talking.. oh no, word order… the time portion should have already come… maybe I’ll just dump that now and move on, finish this sentence and… oh fuck… why am I panicking!!) that occurs when I start speaking German with a native speaker, so perhaps it’s beneficial in the long term :-)
The mark it gives for *stress* is really interesting and helpful. I notice a few times that I was emphasising the wrong part of the German sentence, mostly because I was mimicking the flow of the English version.
I’ll try it again later with a better microphone set up and see how it goes: the built in mic on my computer seems really bad. Many thanks for setting exercise up, in any case: it’d be great to play with more of these in the future.
I will. I actually just finished a custom app that lets you input whatever you want. I might just release that as a beta, so you guys can play around with it :)
I can so relate to your first paragraph. HaHa
Emanuel..Hilfe!!! I went crap!! Only I, was understanding what I was saying… :-( but no one else…!! If you have the ability, you may listen to my recordings…And think!! it was on easy level! What will happen if I put medium or hard level?? Ich werde das gesamte System kurzschließen :-((( Es ist etwas langsam bis die Ergebnisse zeigen and I would rather, I start the recording when I’m ready and not by it’s self… ( I guess I will be never.. that’s why.. :-/ du hast das auch vorhergesagt!!!) Jedoch, es ist eine tolle Idee!! Beeindruckend wie sehr du hilfst wollen!! Du bist wirklich großartig, absolut als Lehrer, und mein Glückwunsch, aber auch als Mensch. Ich denke, du fängst an,auf deine Weise, einen ganz positiven Eindruck zu hinterlassen….eine sehr seltene Gabe heutzutage. Ich fange an, dir mehr und mehr zu vertrauen, obwohl ich dich nur von Caris Videos und nicht persönlich kenne. Beeindruckende Qualifikation selbst!!!!! (Meine Meinung ist absolut authentisch und ich glaube jedes Wort das ich sage, aber wenn ich Fehler in meine Deutsch habe, korrigierst sie bitte..ne? ) bis bald Emanuel, sehr süße und schöne Fortsetzung deines Tages!!! :-)
Haha, no I can’t hear your recordings. But don’t worry about poor marks! The AI isn’t perfect and I often don’t get a perfect score either.
Versuch einfach ab und zu weiter.
Danke für das schöne Feedback und viele Grüße :)
Und dir auch Emanuel!! :-)
I am experiencing FOMO. I can’t get my mac to grant audio recording permission. I remember it asking me on the practice past tense exercise if I can have permission and I said no, but what I really meant was not right now and now it has cracked the shits. Going into system preferences/privacy/screen recording has not helped. Is there a way I can reset and start over so I can get that allow microphone recording bubble thingy to appear again? Otherwise I will have to ask my nerdy son :)
I really don’t know anything about Mac, but you can try and go to the “online” version of the exercise here:
It’s basically what shows up on here, just as a standalone page. Maybe you’ll get the window there again.
And you need to grant permission to EF, not Yourdailygerman, because EF is using the mic in these exercises, not me.
Let me know if that helps :)
The permission window came out from the padlock on the URL and it worked. I was also able to return to the past tense exercise two weeks ago and click on the padlock and allow the microphone. And that worked too !!! Awesome.
Perfect :). No more FOMO then!!
I was having problems using the microphone on my Mac for Duolingo German on Safari. I opened it in Chrome and it works great. maybe worth a try!
Thank you for the tip. I use chrome as default as I find Safari clunky on the odd occasion. But as mentioned above clicking on the padlock worked.
Super. Better than any other German-language speech recognition tool that I previously used.
Awesome! I’m glad to hear that :)!
Thank you for giving me this opportunity!!! and my special thanks to the members who paid extra money to support the people who couldnt afford the membership.
FANTABULOUS thank so much and please do a lot of these!
I will :)!
I don’t know if anyone else does this, but I like to repeat the example sentences from the articles to myself. Maybe that could be an easy way to do speaking practice, either instead of or as part of a quiz?
There are usually plenty of simple sentences that are interesting and useful enough for me to want to internalize them. Sometimes I do variations on a theme – change the tense, change the nouns to pronouns, add an adjective or adverb. Not sure if that lends itself well to an exercise, just thinking out loud.
For me, it’s a plus when there are some funny examples in the mix because laughing or smiling helps get rid of the tension and awkwardness I tend to get when I know it’s time to practice talking. That’s part of why I love the unicorns and the escapades of Thomas and Maria (like when he bought her a scale for her birthday).
So I am actually working on integrating the EF-AI into the site, and eventually the “record yourself” option that’s there now will include the pronunciation grading.
It’s just quite a bit of coding and I’m doing it myself, so it takes a while.
As for variations… that is not going to work for the foreseeable future. The AI that I am using needs a script. So all it does is compare what you say to what it expects something to sound.
It can’t transcribe unknown material.
The upside of that is actually that the AI will always recognize what you’re saying, just that it’ll tell you how “off” you are. If you have a “free” AI, then you might get frustrated because it transcribes something the wrong way without you knowing what the issue is.
Anyway, at some point in the future, I would like to include either Google AI or Open AI.
I’ll be able to reuse a lot of the code I am writing now, so we’ll see… maybe a year.
Oh, that sounds neat. I can imagine it’s quite a bit of work, but exciting. If it’s not being too nosy, I would be curious what the benefit of Google AI or Open AI would be. I don’t know much about AI, but it’s an interesting topic. (Maybe there’s even a podcast episode in there. The crypto episodes were interesting.)
Google and OpenAI have “free” input, so they can transcribe anything you’re saying and to an extend understand it. The AI here is “just” a comparison between an expectation (created from the written sentence) and the reality (what you say).
So you can do a lot more with a “full” AI. OpenAI is actually pretty damn impressive, as to what it can do.
I’ll ask Manuel if he’d be up for this topic. I think he is, but we need to be careful to not get too techy.
Cool, thanks for the info. I think there’s a “lighter” side to the topic, like self-driving cars and movies that talk about AI. What might robots be capable of in 100 years. If you could snap your fingers and make a new use for AI appear, what would it do? What kind of things can AI do to make life easier that the average person might not think about (language learning is one that was new to me).
At least those are some of the things I think about as a definitely not techy person.
Vielen Danke for the opportunity to be a member of this community! Much much appreciated.
I love it! my laptop is basically a stone tablet so it struggles to record well, and also i literally cannot get away from background noise because my window is right next to the street and omg i have never hated cars so much in my life before.
but this practice made me so happy!! thank you :)
Wow, glad it is working for you despite the less than stellar circumstances :). I’ll definitely do more of these.
Actually, I’d love to do it for every important verb, and eventually for flashcard… ugh… sooo much work :D