Last week, while I was attending my Language Resources course, I was having a look at Delicious’s bookmarks when I found this pronunciation guide on the Internet. At the beginning, I did not pay much attention to it, but when our teacher mentioned it a couple of times, I said to myself: Let’s have a try!
Although it might sound rather surprising, Forvo has become the largest pronunciation guide in the world just in a year’s time. It was born as an idea in 2007, and is online since January 2008. Moreover, and I am sure many of you would be proud to know, the owner of this site is Forvo Media SL, from San Sebastián (The Basque Country).
Forvo.com is a website that allows access to pronunciation sound clips in many different languages in an attempt to make easier the learning of languages. Likewise, what it is amazing about this website is that all sound clips are created by its users, who also have the chance to vote on each clip, positively or negatively, so that it ensures that those sound clips which have a better quality have priority over lesser sound clips when being listened to.
Moreover, it must be pointed out that it offers a huge variety of languages, not only English. For instance, laguages such as Amharic, Assamese, Kotava, Babarian and so forth are presented, which are rarely heard.
EXAMPLE OF THE RESEARCH
I would like to give an example of how this website works.
- The first step would be to type in a word. Let’s put as an example the word Umbrella.
- Then, with a slight click in the tiny square that says “Go”, the website leads the user to the next page where the results of the search are presented:
- At the bottom of the page, it can be read “Umbrella 2 pronunciation”. Therefore, if we click on it, what we find is the next thing:
The pronuntiation guide offers us the different pronunciations of the word, provided by the users. Finally, we only need to choose one of the two and listen to it. (In this case, the second pronunciation does not work or, at least, nothing can be heard).
COMPARISON BETWEEN FORVO AND OTHER PRONUNCIATION GUIDES FOUND ON THE INTERNET
Very similar to Forvo is the website howjsay.com. Although it does not contain as much data as Forvo, it is very easy when trying to look up a word. However, another important difference that might make it slightly restrictive, is the fact that words are not uoloaded to the page by the users and it is precisely this property that I like from Forvo. Nonetheless, users can add comments and suggest new uploads to the page, as it can be appreciated on the picture below.
EXAMPLE OF A RESEARCH
Its functionality is very similar to Forvo’s as I have already mentioned. First, you just need to type in the word you are interested in and, then, click were it says “sumit”.
After that, you do not need to do anything else, the word just comes out pronounced automatically. Yet, it does have an innovation that Forvo does not include on his web page. There is the possibility to translate that word -by Google Translate- into a large number of languages, such as Korean, Persian, Hindi and many others. For example:
Fonetiks.orgis rather different from Forvo and howjsay.com. It is mainly based on isolated sounds of consonants and vowels; that is, it is not focused on the pronunciation of words, but of sounds. In fact, it provides online pronunciation guides to 9 varieties of the English language and 9 other languages, instant sound and pronunciation samples by over 40 native speakers.
In the presentation page, there is some sort of a comparison made between different dialects of English regarding mainly the differences in the pronounciation of sounds from one language into another. Users can listen to the pronunciation of sounds in American English, British English, Irish English, Scottish English, Welsh English, Australian English, Canadian English, Indian English and South African English which are divided into categories such as single vowel sounds, two vowel sounds and so forth.
Apart from all these, it is also interesting the fact that it has more activities in order to practice pronunciation. For instance, it offers a variety of English dialogues, an interactive reading course and many other activities which are available on the web page. In the picture below, there is an example of a dialogue which emphasises the use of the relative pronoun “whose”.
From the three pronunciation guides that I have been checking so that I could write my second review, I would say that Forvo has been the most attractive one, since the involvement of the users is wider than in the other two. Yet, it is interesting the translation service that howjsay.com provides for the users and, at the same time, the diversity of activities offered by fonetiks.org is quite helpful for the development and improvement of the pronunciation for those who do not have the chance to go to other countries in order to practice the language.
- Forvo.com. (2010, March 3). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 20:22, March 23, 2010, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Forvo.com&oldid=347544470
- Forvo: The pronunciation guide. (2010). Retrieved on March 23, 2010, from http://forvo.com
- Fonetiks.org (2000-2009). Retrieved on May 2, 2010, from http://www.fonetiks.org/
- Howjsay.com (2006-2010). Retrieved on May 2, 2010, from http://www.howjsay.com/