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https://www.duolingo.com/profile/tommg

New free website to improve your listening skills - in 11 languages!

A few weeks ago I created a simple java application for improving my listening in Portuguese. It was very basic and it used an artificial voice (even though a very good one). I decided to expand on the idea and included other languages too. I'm still new to many of the programming languages involved in this project (this is actually my first site ever), so bear that in mind when encountering errors, and please report them to me. :-)

I used the audio recordings and translations on Tatoeba to create this site. Currently, there are more than 17000 recordings in 11 languages available for practice. I left out English for now. It's a bigger project than all of these languages joined together, so I decided to wait and see if there's enough interest in the site. I left out languages like Italian and Japanese, because there are simply not enough recordings on Tatoeba. So if you want to see your native language added (or if it is already there, more sentences in that language), you have to add your own recordings on Tatoeba.

Here's the address of the site and a screenshot of me using it:

ListeningPractice.org

Once you select the language you want to practice and the translations you want to see, you will hear the audio before every exercise and you can replay it as many times as you want. After checking the solution, you have to judge yourself how well you did in the exercise and grade your performance on a scale from 1 to 5. If you do this, you will see your overall performance rating for the current session in the top right corner. But if you don't want to bother with this, you can just click 'Skip' after every exercise. The site should work properly with the following browser versions (tested on Windows 7 and OSX Mavericks):

  • Internet Explorer: 11.0 (2013 Oct)
  • Mozilla Firefox: 21.0 or higher (2013 May)
  • Safari: 7.0+ (2013 Oct), but on iOS the audio won't autoplay.
  • Google Chrome: 23.0+ (2012 Nov)
  • Opera: audio doesn't play

I have plans to make it better in the future as this is a great learning experience for me too. Possible new features include English added to the list of languages, the user interface translated into many languages, slowing down audio tracks like here on Duolingo, maybe even user accounts so that you can easily track your progress.

Let me know what you think about it.

October 31, 2014

53 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/BuddyRey

Thank you SO much for including one for Esperanto. This is exactly, exactly what I needed!

You are my favorite person in the world today! :)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/tommg

Thanks, then it was already worth it. ;-)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Luko.

You should ask people to translate the interface! It's a great idea, I'll use it for Esperanto, thanks!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/tommg

I definitely plan to do that, but I started the whole project one week ago, so it's a miracle I have gotten this far. :-)

I have very little knowledge in Esperanto, so I would appreciate your feedback on the quality of the exercises.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Luko.

There are some errors, but I think It's tatoeba's problem, as accusative missing or audio missing some letters. But almost perfect! If you want, I'd like to help you traduce the site to Esperanto and/or Spanish, whenever you want to do it.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/tommg

Thanks, I will take you up on that offer when I'm doing the translations.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/tinnmel

I like it. I've got it book marked.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/pont

Very nice! I can report that it also works fine on Chrome 38.0.2125.111 and Firefox 33.0 on Ubuntu 14.04 64-bit.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/wataya

Looks like a great project, keep it up! Any plans to share the code?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/tommg

Thanks. Why do you need the code? I'm a rookie programmer, so I'm sure it looks like a mess to trained eyes. :-P


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/wataya

BTW: It'd probably be a good idea to introduce some keyboard shortcuts. For people who use your site more frequently it'll soon become somewhat tedious having to click around so much.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/tommg

Keyboard shortcuts are implemented now.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/tommg

Good idea! If there's enough interest, there will be all kinds of new stuff coming. E.g. right now I'm looking into the possibility of slowing audio tracks down like you can here on DL. But I have some exams coming up next week and I have work to do as well, so I will need some time. :-P


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MultiLinguAlex

Slowing the voices down would be indeed an awesome feature!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Phillbo

Symbols would be helpful as well e.g. ä


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/wataya

I don't need it :) I'm just asking in general.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/tommg

One of my friends who is experienced in web programming agreed to take a look at the code and help me make it better, so maybe after that, but the code itself is really no big deal. :-)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/NoNameHaveI

Open-source, perhaps? I'd be willing to help contribute to clean up and add efficiency to the code :) Great work! Github / Bitbucket would be awesome!!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/NoNameHaveI

I'm quite experienced in multiple programming languages, so I think it would be quite beneficial :)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/tommg

For now, I would like to use this project as a learning tool in programming for myself. But I think at some point I will do it.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/slogger

This looks great. Thanks!

I've just tried it a bit in Russian, and the voice engine is so far very good, to my non-native ear. For your ratings of 1 to 5, is one :( (poor) and 5 :) (great) or vice versa?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/tommg

1 is supposed to be poor, 5 is great, maybe I should have made it clearer, since it's used differently in different parts of the world. But when you click 5, it shows as 100% in your performance, and 1 shows as 20%, so maybe that makes it obvious.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/slogger

Thanks much. I rather tardily noticed that there were percentages shown at the top, which gave me the clue after a couple of tries (duh, me). It's really only the first self rating where there's a question.

That Russian TTS is better than any other I've heard. Where is it from? Is it free?

And thanks for making the text so nice and BIG. A treat for old eyes. Duo could easily enlarge their font to that size by arranging cue and response vertically, as you have done. I sure wish they would.

If you keep the site up, perhaps you could add some hotkeys?

Anyway, it's a really nice site.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/tommg

It's not TTS, these are real native recordings form Tatoeba.org. :-) This is the point of the whole site, to give DL users tired of the robotic voices some breath of fresh air. :-)

Hotkeys are certainly among the priorities I'm planning to include in the near future.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/slogger

> It's not TTS . . .

<blush> Yes, thanks for the explanation. I found my way to the homepage after a while and saw that. The gent. who recorded the Russian must be a dedicated soul, as I've only heard one voice so far! (I did find one sentence where he changed word order. Tsk, tsk. But that's of course not a big deal.)

. . . And I tried the Latin, which is really nice too. Too bad there are not more sentences there, and if I had any Italian friends I'd urge them to record for tatoeba, as it sure would be nice to have Italian there too.

Great site. It is definitely useful for improving listening and spelling skills.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/maximusfood

This is so perfect. It's EXACTLY what I've been looking for -- I've found getting my listening ability in line with my reading ability extremely challenging -- and I really like the interface. The sentences are absolutely fantastic, and for German there are over 2000 of them. Great stuff, thanks.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/StrapsOption

That's fantastic, well done! I'm practising mein Deutsch darauf.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rappelke

Lingoversity has something similar, but it was more geared toward inputting your own terms or sentences. Originally it provided very nice male and female voices for EN, FR, ES, and DE, and you could add your own for other languages. The interface is very nice, but the server stopped running some time back - if it was hosted at a university (in Spain), its budget probably got axed. At some point I'll get some voices for it, but right now, duolingo is keeping me busy.


[deactivated user]

    This is great listening practice. Thank you for posting the links.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MultiLinguAlex

    After studying French for approximately 14,5 months now, I'm in France for an internship right now. My speaking and reading abilities seem to be at a A2 level and it is extremely hard for me to understand what French people say. Testing out your website, I got a performance of 57 % after 20 sentences and could directly understand and translate 3 easier sentences, thus I marked 3 sentences with 5 (100 %). Your tool will definitely help develop my understanding skills, so that I may understand more French by the end of my internship in two weeks. And later, it will be great for Esperanto as well.

    Thank you so much. I bookmarked it and will probably use it regularly in the future!


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/tommg

    Thanks. Feedback like this keeps me motivated to put more time and effort into this project.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Albrechtion

    I think you made a typo in your post; you listed Internet Explorer as if it were a working internet browser. However, to be serious for a second- thanks for the website! It's great!


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/tommg

    :-) I have to admit I had a hard time making the site appear and function properly at least in the latest version of IE, but I didn't want to completely ignore it.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/writchie4

    Haha, ohh IE. The bane of every web programmer's existence. I was just trying to make gradient backgrounds appear correctly the other day, now that's an exercise in frustration!


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/verhomage

    Thank you for the site. Bookmarked. After completing German tree I will definitely use it. One wish: don't mess with ads on this site:)


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/wildenick

    This looks pretty neat - haven't had a chance to do too much with it yet of course since I just found out about it a couple of minutes ago, but I think it's going to be a very useful resource! Thanks!


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/moogy
    • 1026

    great resource ,thanks for sharing !!


    [deactivated user]

      This is awesome! I just figured how bad my French listening skills are. I guess I have a lot of work to do. I've been looking for a website like this.

      Keep up the good work! This will be very handy.


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Phillbo

      This is fantastic! I must admit, I was a bit sceptical at first - I didn't expect much. But having tried it, it's brilliant! The sentences are a lot harder than the sentences I normally come across, and it's a really good challenge.


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/serhed

      This is a really perfect way to improve my listening skills. But why isn't it possible to choose another language than English as mother tongue?


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/tommg

      If you mean the translations, it is possible. On the page where you can start your training session (for Spanish http://www.listeningpractice.org/session.php?lang=spa), there is a long list of languages with round checkboxes next to them, you can even load more languages with the "More languages" button.


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/serhed

      No, I want to practice English and have German translations. How is that possible?


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/tommg

      English is coming up in the next few days. Be a little patient. :-)


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Denny22

      This is great. Thank you so much for going to so much trouble.

      I've been trying the French to English version and after 34 questions my score was 30% which though I was marking myself quite harshly still seems far too generous for my performance. So I wonder for a 'poor performance' if a score lower than 20% would be more appropriate. I found I could get a sentence completely wrong and still score 20% which doesn't seem quite right to me.

      I kept hitting the repeat buttons constantly, and I wondered if there could be a continuous repeat button.

      I guess for the French version I also would like an accents mini-keyboard so that I can attempt to spell the words correctly together with their 'feathers' and 'what-nots'. (I don't know the fancy term for this)

      I think I too would like a personalised score chart/card at the end of each session so that I can chart any improvement.

      The above are just humble suggestions.

      I will use it a lot as it is.

      Many thanks


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/tommg

      Hi there!

      About the rating system: the percent number is just the total number of points given to yourself/the maximum number of points you could have gotten, so this is why a rating of 1 is translated into 20%. Would prefer showing the average rating instead (for example 4.00 instead of 80%)?. Of course, I could change the percents to 0-25-50-75-100%, but I thought it would be less discouraging if I left out scores below 20%. :-)

      Your suggestions are all on my list, but I can't focus on them until my I have finished with the two features I'm currently working on.


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/writchie4

      Of course, I could change the percents to 0-25-50-75-100%, but I thought it would be less discouraging if I left out scores below 20%. :-)

      Changing the scale sounds good to me. It is a little weird using a percentage scale if you can only go from 20% to 100%. On the other hand, maybe it would be better to ditch the percentage completely and just show the average number of stars instead? That would resolve the disconnect between the star rating scale and the percentage scale.


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Denny22

      Kind of you to reply, I like the use of percentages. For me, getting 0% on a sentence would not be discouraging, but instead an honest reflection of my ability, which would spur me on to improve. Though I understand how that might not work for everyone and it may well prove for some discouraging. Good luck with your programming.


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/tsakis87

      That's very helpful, thanks! Bookmarked!


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/somelauw

      Thanks. Voices and accents of native speakers was one of the things I found missing in duolingo. Some sentences are harder to understand than others and some sentences use words I haven't Iearned yet, so some sort of difficulty level, might be helpful.


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/lucie.white

      This is absolutely wonderful - so useful, and it's great to get a sense of different accents! It helps introduce new words to your vocabulary too at a great rate - not too overwhelming! Thank you so much for this fantastic tool!


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/arekolek

      Look for some diff library that will let you compare user's response to the correct solution and highlight the differences.

      Also, keep it simple, I'm talking about all the different fonts, sizes, colours, backgrounds, alignment, and so on.

      Learn a language in just 5 minutes a day. For free.