Teach people to read and speak English online

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Teach people to read and speak English online

United States
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

My un-conference talk at Stanford from half a year ago has most of the technical details mentioned and in links. Consider Rosetta Stone, one of the few companies that went public this year, and is doing very well in the down economy. People can get instructional material for free on the web very similar to almost all of what Rosetta Stone sells for more than $150 per unit, except for the automatic pronunciation feedback. So let's offer English pronunciation feedback for free on the web paid for by ads. Try the incomplete demo.

I need to finish the user interface, content development system, put up about 5,000 words of content including Aesop's fables, "choose your own adventure"-style stories, ERIC texts for advanced readers, and license this patent from the British government spin-off that ended up with it. Then put it up on the web as a free ad-sponsored service. Content development involves (1) coding the phonemes and part of speech of each word, as you can see if you try to add another phrase to the demo; (2) getting about 10-15 men and women from Craigslist to record each phrase; (3) a quality-control step where listeners score the pronunciation as being suitable for an exemplar.

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Your idea
Country your work focuses on:


What stage is your project in?

Operating for less than a year

YouTube Upload


What is the average monthly household income in your target community, in US Dollars?


Describe your idea in fewer than 50 words.

Anyone on the internet with a browser that can upload recordings ought to be able to practice their English reading and pronunciation by trying to read phrases off the screen and have an automatic speech recognition system score their pronunciation with detailed feedback.

What makes your idea unique?

Nobody is offering this as a free, ad-supported service yet, although it is popular with expensive language learning software.

What is your area of work? (Please check as many as apply.)

Education , Education reform , Adult education , Technology , Arts and culture , Media .

What impact have you had?

I'm the co-author of an internet RFC, and have a long history of suggessful civic activism.

Describe the primary problem(s) that your project is addressing.

Reading and spoken English literacy.

Describe the steps that your organization is taking to make your project successful.

Computer programming and educational content development.

What will it take for your project to be successful over the next three years? Success in Year 1:


Success in Year 2:

The funding should be self-sustaining after the first year.

Success in Year 3:

As long as people continue to use the system, and it generates enough revenue through ads to sustain and grow to meet demand, I will consider it a success.

Do you have a business plan or strategic plan? (yes/no)


What are the three most important actions needed to grow your initiative or organization? STEP 1:

Finish the user interface with microphone upload using Java and/or Adobe Flash.

What are the three most important actions needed to grow your initiative or organization? STEP 2:

Finish the automated content development system.

What are the three most important actions needed to grow your initiative or organization? STEP 3:

Fund 5,000 words of content development.

Describe the expected results of these actions.

Per the project goals, anyone with a compatible web browser should be able to practice their pronunciation with Aesop's Fables, "Choose Your Own Adventure"-style stories, or college-level public domain educational texts.

What was the defining moment that led you to this innovation?

Reading about Dr. Jack Mostow's Project LISTEN reading tutor at CMU.

Tell us about the social innovator behind this idea.

I work as a mobile application developer in the software and media industries.

How did you first hear about Changemakers?


What would prevent your project from being a success?

Lack of funding.

Financing source


If yes, provide organization name.

TalkNicer, Inc.

How long has this organization been operating? (i.e. less than a year; 1-5 years; more than 5 years)

Less than a year.

Does your organization have a Board of Directors or an Advisory Board?


Does your organization have any non-monetary partnerships with NGOs? (yes/no)


Does your organization have any non-monetary partnerships with businesses? (yes/no)


The Story
Does your organization have any non-monetary partnerships with government? (yes/no)


Please tell us more about how these partnerships are critical to the success of your innovation.

A patent needs to be licenced, and the asking price is $100,000 up front and 20% of gross receipts. I've asked to amortize the up-front payment.

How many people will your project serve annually?

Potentially hundreds of millions.

What is the total number of employees and total number of volunteers at your organization?


What is your organization's business classification?


Have you received funding from any of the following groups? (Please check as many as apply.)