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ELSA Speak is a language-learning app focusing on speaking and pronunciation skills with detailed information on English phonetics. With ELSA Speak, you will be introduced to the correct pronunciation of small phonetic components of the language, such as letters and syllables, towards more complex conversational and speaking skills, such as intonation and flow following theme-specific situations, and even conversational practice with an AI tutor. One of the most sophisticated language-learning services out there, ELSA Speak is a good option for intermediate and advanced learners who want to reinforce their speaking and conversational skills.
One of the hardest parts of learning a new language can be to speak and correctly pronounce sounds that are foreign to you. And even if you’re fluent in written English, a strong accent can make it difficult to make yourself fully understood. This is where ELSA Speak comes in – an AI-powered tool to help English learners improve their speaking and pronunciation. Let’s see how they deliver on their promise to help you better speak English!
ELSA Speak, short for English Language Speech Assistant, is an online language-learning app that focuses on the phonetic aspects of the English language and helps you improve your English pronunciation. ELSA Speak works through an AI speech recognition technology that will analyze in detail all aspects of your pronunciation of words and phrases. This recognition technology’s dataset was developed using voice data from people speaking English in different accents. This allows the service to recognize pronunciation features from non-native speakers to help address them. Overall, the main goal of ELSA Speak is to make you sound as native as possible to American English.
ELSA Speak contains over 7.100 lessons organized into 22 key skills using AI technology to provide insights into your speaking strengths and weaknesses. Although the content can be browsed and accessed following different topics, ELSA Speak can deliver you daily customized learning plans based on your overall performance with the app.
In every lesson, you can listen to native voice recordings to learn how to pronounce words and phrases and use the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) to help you recognize the sounds of words and phrases and their symbolic representation.
ELSA Speak's features
Daily practice lessons
In each daily practice lesson, you are guided through different pronunciation exercises with different interactive dynamics and difficulties. Compared to other language-learning apps, ELSA Speak will make you record not only words and small phrases but also big chunks of conversation. After you finish conversational exercises, you can play it all back so you can hear the differences between your speech and the native’s pre-recorded voice. This will allow you to develop a more connected way of speaking that will improve your speech.
This is what a pronunciation lesson in ELSA Speak looks like.
Inside the exercises, you can also practice and access the definitions of single words. This helps when struggling with specific vocabulary requiring more practice.
The speech recognition engine allows ELSA Speak to recognize how you pronounce letters, syllables, words, and phrases. After you speak, the app will show you written phrases marked as green, orange, or red, depending on how well you did. You can click on any word, and a screen will pop up showing you more detailed information with more detailed information on how to achieve better pronunciation. After every lesson, ELSA Speak will show you a summary of the scores and the parts of the phrases that still need more practice.
This is what a conversational exercise looks like in ELSA Speak.
This section features a more detailed and comprehensive learning path with different stages that you need to complete to proceed to the next one. The first part will ask you to repeat some words and to choose the right pronunciation of specific written words. Sometimes, you must also watch videos with specific explanations of English phonetics delivered by native English teachers.
These screenshots show you the different types of speaking and pronunciation exercises in ELSA Speak.
Study by topic or skills
This section allows you to browse topics organized by themes, such as introductory English, lifestyle, small talk, work and career, education, holidays, health, relationships, and informal English. Some interesting and specific topics include Machine Learning, working in healthcare, steel structures, and Vietnamese culture. However, as you can see, most topics seem to be randomly put together as they don’t follow a cohesive learning order of one single path.
You will find five levels in every topic, with four sections in each that you must complete in order to progress to the next level. First, you will listen to new vocabulary through a flashcard system and then be asked to repeat several words. You will continue to another section that allows you to train the phonetic emphasis of words and phrases and will finish the level with a conversational practice where you will need to read and repeat more complex phrases. This learning and practice order allows you to go from the basics to the most advanced speaking practice of the English language in certain specific topics, starting from basic single words to complex conversational interaction.
ELSA Speak also allows you to follow lessons based on preset phonetic skills. You can access more detailed and interactive sections focusing on formal phonetics here. Every skill corresponds to certain groups of letters, the correct pronunciation of word endings and linking syllables, consonant clusters, intonation, or nasal sounds.
ELSA Speak features video conversations where you will play the role of an interlocutor in specific daily life situations animated in video, such as going on vacation, office talk, dining at a restaurant, weekend planning, exercise routines, or making a dinner reservation.
There are also different study sets that have been created at the request of learners. These include some peculiar topics the learning community has found interesting, such as tongue twisters, famous basketball teams, and jokes.
ELSA Speak also offers English exam prep programs geared to developing spoken English skills in tests such as TOEFL, TOEIC, IELTS, and Pearson PTE, including test score predictors based on your actual performance.
ELSA Speak’s AI speech recognition dedicated exercises feature an interactive chat on specific pre-selected daily-life scenarios that you can select. This is probably one of the most useful features of ELSA Speak, as it can recognize everything you say and respond accordingly, as with other popular AI-assisted chatting services. Although you might find some interaction and recognition limitations, this service will give you an immersive language-learning experience that can only be compared to talking with a real person.
How much does ELSA Speak cost?
ELSA Speak has a limited free option that allows you to test out the basic functionality of the platform. However, as much of the functionality is restricted to paid plans, I would recommend that you sign up for one of their two premium plans to try out the platform, as they offer a free 7-day trial for both of these plans.
The premium plan of ELSA Speak can be purchased in two different plans: ELSA Pro and ELSA Premium. The Pro plan gives you full access to all lessons. The Premium plan adds analysis of your conversation recordings, as well as AI-guided practice mode, test score predictions, live transcripts, and vocabulary improvements.
ELSA Pro can be purchased:
- monthly for US$19
- three months for US$49.99 (US&16.66/month)
- annually for US$129.99 (US$10.83/month).
ELSA Premium can be purchased
- three months for $US54.99 (US$18.33/month)
- annually for US$159.99 (US$13.33/month).
- Great user experience: ELSA Speak has a well-balanced visual and interactive app design that will allow you to understand which activities you should do to progress in your learning path.
- Comprehensive learning system focusing on speaking and pronunciation: The combination of phonetic research, daily-life interaction scenarios, and AI-assisted speech recognition makes ELSA Speak a powerful tool to improve conversational skills.
- AI-assisted conversational tools: The self-developing AI engine of ELSA Speak can recognize speech from different accents and original languages, which makes it able to recognize phonetic specificities of how you pronounce words and phrases.
- Preparation content for official English tests: The different courses geared to prepare yourself for English tests are a great opportunity for those who want to certify their language skills for professional or educational purposes.
- Can only be accessed through the app: ELSA Speak is not available on a desktop computer, which is a big disadvantage for those who do not prefer to learn using their phones.
- Only for American English: The app is geared towards American English, which can be limiting, although the app can be helpful even if your target is another variant of English.
- Does not teach other language fundamentals: ELSA Speak does not cover in any depth other language fundamental skills other than pronunciation and speaking, such as reading, writing, or listening. Therefore, this option should be used as a learning complement, especially for beginners.
What is the audience for ELSA Speak?
ELSA Speak is a good option for intermediate and advanced learners who want to reinforce their speaking and conversational skills. The combination of phonetics and AI tutoring makes the service suitable for intense speaking practice with a wide catalog of topics and daily-life scenarios. The great adaptability of the AI engine makes ELSA Speak suitable for anyone with almost any kind of phonetic background in other languages.
Conclusion and recommendation
This is among the most sophisticated language-learning services I have tested that focuses on speaking and conversational skills. Although some other apps can offer similar speech-recognition features, ELSA Speak’s system has been specifically designed to cover speaking, pronunciation, and conversational skills, which makes it one of the best options online for those who want to sound more native or who struggle with developing these skills in other types of learning programs.