ELSA raises $3.2M for its A.I.-powered English pronunciation assistant

ELSA raises $3.2M for its A.I.-powered English pronunciation assistant

ELSA, an application whose name means &ldquoEnglish Language Speech Assistant&rdquo (and never the most popular Disney character!), has elevated $3.two million because of its A.I.-aided learning platform that teaches people how you can speak British. Unlike other courses that focus mainly on teaching grammar and vocabulary, ELSA uses artificial intelligence and speech recognition technology to assist foreign language learners using their pronunciation.

The $3.two million pre-A round of funding was brought by&nbspMonk’s Hill Ventures, a strong that invests in publish-seed stage startups in Southeast Asia. Monk&rsquos Hill founder and partner, Peng T. Ong, is joining ELSA&rsquos board.

The Bay Area-based startup was&nbsporiginally founded in 2015 by Stanford grad Vu Van, ELSA Chief executive officer, and Dr.&nbspXavier Anguera, whose background is within speech recognition along with a.I. technologies. It debuted at SXSW in March 2016, where it later won the SXSWedu launch competition.

According to Van, who had been born and elevated in Vietnam, the concept for ELSA was motivated by her personal expertise in learning British.

&ldquoI gone to live in america in my Master of business administration and Master&rsquos in Education at Stanford,&rdquo she states. &ldquoMy newbie at Stanford was very challenging due to my capability to speak British. Many of the time, people misinterpreted me,&rdquo Van continues.

Although ELSA&rsquos founder could write and browse British fairly well, she wanted to locate a good solution for improving her accent &ndash and she or he emerged short.

&ldquoI recognized that individuals didn&rsquot genuinely have lots of solutions&hellipwhen you are looking at speaking, they might either visit a speech counselor which costs them $150 an hour or so, who could pay attention to them and connect their pronunciation, or they might visit YouTube or watch Netflix, that is a one-way learning solution,&rdquo Van states.

She made the decision to build up ELSA because of her very own struggles, getting in co-founder&nbspDr. Anguera to assist create ELSA&rsquos proprietary speech recognition technology.

To make use of ELSA, foreign language learners download the application for iOS or Android, then take ELSA&rsquos five-minute assessment test which identifies the consumer&rsquos&nbsppronunciation proficiency and identifies where they have challenges. This post is then accustomed to build out a customized curriculum, tailored towards the user&rsquos current abilities.

In ELSA, you will find around 600 training and three,000+ words across a number of topics, like introductions, speaking about family or relationships, jobs and hiring, traveling, and much more. The application can also be updated regularly with periodic and timely topics, like training featuring the holiday season, or perhaps the new &ldquoStar Wars&rdquo movie, so learners can better take part in everyday communication.

The training are bite-sized, at 2 minutes lengthy. They’ve five exercises that will get progressively harder, including pronunciations of words, phrases and sentences.

ELSA functions by hearing learners&rsquo voices, then matching up the things they stated using the correct American British pronunciation. The language on screen are highlighted in red, yellow and eco-friendly to exhibit how good each a student did. The application may also help by looking into making suggestions regarding the way the speaker can enhance confirmed seem &ndash for instance, by letting them know how you can shape their mouth or move their tongue.

Behind the curtain, ELSA is operated by A.I. technology, that learns users&rsquo speech &ndash something they constructed from scratch.

&ldquoThe speech recognition technology out there’s slightly different [from ELSA]. They struggle to you know what you&rsquore saying, regardless of whether you&rsquore saying it wrong or right. It&rsquos clearly very forgiving to mistakes. What you want to do may be the complete opposite,&rdquo states Van.

Since its launch 2 yrs ago, ELSA continues to be adopted with a couple of million users in over 100 countries, with around half its users list in Southeast Asia, and also the rest disseminate elsewhere on the planet, including in South America and Eastern Europe. Users are today practicing a couple of million exercises each week.

  1. progress

  2. assessment

  3. subject view

  4. skill view 2

  5. skill view

  6. feedback for conversation

  7. dictionary

  8. WordFeedbackScreen

Using the additional funding, ELSA is intending to address the demands from teachers who wish to make use of the service within their classrooms by creating a tool which will allow them to enter phrases and words from own curriculum. It&rsquos also likely to begin the job to include new languages towards the platform, and make out its voice recognition API.

ELSA today generates revenue through subscriptions, costing $3.99/month or $29.99/year. An every three months choice is like well, though prices can vary by region. As the product for teachers is going to be affordable, it won&rsquot be free &ndash potentially offering another revenue stream.

The organization may also make use of the funds to employ additional A.I. talent, states Vu.

ELSA&rsquos application is really a download free on iOS and Android.

Find out more: https://techcrunch.com/2018/03/06/elsa-raises-3-2m-for-its-a-i-powered-english-pronunciation-assistant/

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