As second language French Speakers, we all yearned for a tool that would let us practice our french conversationally, while having a personalised experience.

What it does

Hear-o identifies the topics in a language course that you've been studying recently (either on Duolingo or through user-input), and then proposes lessons tailored to that particular topic. For example, if you tell the skill that you learnt about daily activities, it might give you a French passage to listen to and then answer questions related to it.

How we built it

We carefully designed a curriculum for students with the basics of conversational French, while ensuring we kept the interface flexible to allow for extensions.

Our development was done on the Amazon Alexa Developer Console, using a Python interface for writing the intent handlers, flow of logic and also for storing the data.

We tested it using the user text and voice input simulation on the developer's console. Towards the later stages of our development, we brought in an Echo Spot to test the real deal.

Challenges we ran into

  • Getting the Alexa tool to switch between languages and accents.
  • Understanding the organisation of Alexa skill development (intents, handlers, flows, etc.). It was all fairly new to us and involved a lot of flowcharts and group discussion to be on the same page as far as we could.
  • Internet connectivity
  • We weren't able to get user voice data due to privacy issues, and so accurate transcription of what the user said was a bit difficult. We got around this by setting our skill to be based in French, so it could transcribe what the user said better.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

  • Developing a curriculum for language and understanding how conversations play an important part in influencing that design.
  • Specifically being able to develop a skill in Alexa first hand and getting close to publishing it!
  • Understanding voice technology development and appreciating the fact it could be used widely for education where an immediate teacher isn't available.

What we learned

How to use the Alexa SDK and develop Alexa Skill-building skills. The philosophy (and difficulty) behind computer hearing

What's next for Hear-o

-It earns a permanent place on Sanjan's nightstand, and we might look to grow the number of lessons, languages offered, and increase Duolingo integration.

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