Inspiration

As a linguistics minor, I struggled to learn the IPA chart for class when I was first introduced to it. I memorized it for the semester, but it has recently come back into one of my classes and I realized I had to memorize it all over again. It is something I would like to practice, but not necessarily while taking away from other things. Thus, making this learning tool compatible with my Alexa allows me to quiz myself while I'm preparing for the next day or getting ready for bed. I also think my linguistics friends would appreciate the application too.

What it does

The IPA chart consist of features categorized by the place of the articulation of the tongue and the manner which relates to the air flow. This current proof of concept allows you to ask the IPA chart for particular sounds and then have them play.

How I built it

I used Alexa's Skill Kit connected with AWS Lambda and AWS S3 to create this application. The expected types of responses was encoded in the Alexa developer console, the logic and responses in the Lambda console, and uploaded the audio files in AWS S3. I watched a ton of tutorials, went through documentation, and put it all together.

Challenges I ran into

One major challenge was the lack of connection to wifi. Another challenge included the lack of examples in python for Alexa Skills and the a major roadblock with the application working on the simulator versus the actual echo.

Accomplishments that I'm proud of

I am proud that I finished this application. It is currently 6:14 am and this project will not even likely win any awards because it is such a niche area, but I continued on. I really could have gone home to sleep and enjoyed my bed, but I really wanted to code something to prove to myself of my tenacity and to regain some confidence in this tech world. One of the most difficult parts of being a female in tech is the constantly reinforced imposter syndrome one can get from the environment. I am in the process of trying to expand my skill sets so that one day I can feel like I earned the respect and belong in CS.

What I learned

I learned how to make an Alexa Skill, what a JSON format looks like, and how to create the equivalent in python. I also read plenty of examples and learned the wide variety of tools that come with creating an Alexa Skill. Lastly, I learned a laugh at my mistakes instead of letting them stress me out.

What's next for I.P.A. Chart

There is another linguistic chart based on an idea called distinctive features. This chart is even more complicated and harder to remember. I would like to implement that as another intent and also create a quiz mode for both charts. The ideal application would be saying a sound and then having Alexa reply the place and manner. However, there are many variables and issues with this idea such as accents, consistency, etc.

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