Topics for internship, lab rotation, thesis research, etc.

In [the projects of] our research (PI) group there are several possibilities for internship and thesis researchIf you are interested, have questions, me, e.g. send an e-mail to Helmer – ‘w.strik -at-’, and then we can provide more information about current possibilities.

You can assist in our research, experiments, or set up your own experiments. In general, we try to finalize the research plans together with you (the student), taking into account your background, interests, etc., since we believe that this is advantageous for you and us.

First a short list of current options (see below or the linked webpages for more information):

If you are interested, have questions, me, e.g. send an e-mail to Helmer – ‘w.strik -at-’, and then we can provide more information about current possibilities.
- Our research (at the university) ranges from fundamental to applied, and at the spin-off company NovoLanguange we develop products.
For more information on our research see e.g. research projects, some [demo-]videos, and for publications see e.g. my researchgate and my publications page.
In our research we develop applications, and in turn these applications are employed to carry out innovative research. Topics in our research are eLearning, ‘computer-assisted language learning’ (CALL), second language acquisition, eHealth, speech therapy, language and speech technology (L&ST), cognition (e.g. measuring brain activity during speech production and perception), etc.
- Therefore, topics for internships and theses can have different types of focus. Technology can be an important aspect (e.g. you can contribute to developing language and speech technology), a minor aspect (e.g. you can use the applications, with language and speech technology), or not be involved at all.

** Project Spraakverandering als vroege marker longaanval (exacerbatie)
Speech change as an early marker of a ‘lung attack’ (exacerbation)
What are suitable markers?
COPD: Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
In cooperation with the ‘Department of Pulmonary Diseases’ (Radboudumc & Dekkerswald)
Goal: an app that COPD patients use regularly at home.
Available: audio recordings before and after exacerbation.

In Dutch: ‘Spraakverandering als vroege marker longaanval’ – ‘De Digitale Luistervink’; een e-Health project samen met de RadboudUMC. Voor Astma en COPD patienten ontwikkelen we digitale spraak- en ademanalyse zodat via de smartphone gecontroleerd kan worden hoe het met de patiënt gaat. We zijn al begonnen met de registratie van signalen, maar er moeten nog meer opnamen gemaakt worden. Studenten kunnen assisteren bij het registreren en analyseren van de signalen, en bedenken van methodes hoe de spraak- en ademanalyse thuis het beste ingezet kan worden.
Zie ‘Spraakverandering als vroege marker longaanval’, en ‘Voice and sound recognition for exacerbation management’.

** Dysarthric speech: study intelligibility, processing, etc.
We have recordings of dysarthric speech that we use in various experiments.
However more research is needed. There are various possibilities, see e.g. the list below (in Dutch).

In Dutch: Dysartrische spraak – hiervan hebben we al veel opnames (spraaksignalen), waarmee o.a. onderstaande onderwerpen (of combinaties daarvan) onderzocht kunnen worden :

  • Waarom zijn mensen met dysartrie moeilijk te verstaan, en wat kan gedaan worden om hun verstaanbaarheid te verbeteren?
  • Vergelijking van dysartrische en (neurologisch) gezonde spraak, en het verzamelen van geschikt materiaal hiervoor: criteria, akoestische analyse, oordelen van luisteraars (o.a. m.b.t. verstaanbaarheid), etc.
  • Kenmerkende, objectieve akoestische eigenschappen van dysartrische spraak, zoals toonhoogte (gemiddelde en variatie), luidheid, grootte v.d. klinkerruimte, etc.
  • Subjectieve oordelen van luisteraars (met verschillende procedures, schalen): verstaanbaarheid, begrijpelijkheid, spraakkwaliteit, etc.
  • Verbeteren van ‘automatische spraakherkennig’ (ASH), bijv. door het trainen van verschillende akoestische en/of taalmodellen met verschillende ASR-technieken.
  • Automatische detectie van uitspraakfouten, voor onderzoek m.b.v. spraakcorpora, en voor het inzetten van die algoritmes bij spraaktraining.
  • Ontwikkelen en testen van apps voor spraaktraining: feedback (wat, wanneer, hoe, …), wat is mogelijk, wat is effectief, etc.?

** Research on the intelligibility of atypical speech (pathological or learner speech)
In speech training, both in e-Health and in e-Learning, the goal usually is to improve intelligibility.
For this type of research it is important to (often) measure speech intelligibility, e.g to test how effective an approach is. However, measuring intelligibility is not straightforward. Therefore more research is needed to study how intelligibility can be measured, and to determine to what extent this can be done automatically.

** Project ‘Idiomatic Second Language Acquisition’ (ISLA): study formulaic (e.g. idiomatic) expressions
In the project ‘Idiomatic Second Language Acquisition’ (ISLA) we study the acquisition of formulaic expressions (FEs), such as idioms (opaque or not), speech formula (‘dat meen je niet!’, ‘hoe kom je erbij?’, ‘bekijk het maar!’), multiword expressions (‘op een gegeven moment’, ‘in ieder geval’), etc. German (L1) learners of Dutch (L2) are offered intensive training in FEs through an available Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL) system.

Possible research topics/questions are:

  • How can an ASR-based CALL system provide optimal training and feedback in FE production that is comparable to teacher tutoring?
  • How can the ASR component be optimized to handle the peculiarities of German accented Dutch?
  • Which aspects of learner behaviour should be monitored to gain insight into the processes underlying FE learning?
  • How can the CALL system be improved, adapted so that it can handle more challenging tasks related to FE acquisition, and to provide appropriate feedback.
  • How can the ASR component be adapted and optimized to deal the Dutch spoken by German learners?
  • Interactions of the users with the system are stored in log-files. How can these log-files be used, and possibly improved, to obtain insights in acquisition of FEs?
  • Later we will carry out experiments in which behavioural and online (cognitive) measurements will be made. You can be involved in (preparing, running, analysing) these experiments, or carry out some (pilot-)experiments.
  • We also carry out ´smaller scale web-experiments´ in which we test to what extent natives and non-natives are familiair with these FEs.

** Project ‘My Speech Trainer’ (MyST) on improving spoken Academic English
Keywords: oral proficiency, spoken Academic English, e-Learning, Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL), …
Available: results of needs analysis; and what has already been developed: survey, pre- and post-tests, and content / exercises in Novo Studio for training.
What has to be done now is carrying out an experiment in which MySt (incl. survey, pre- and post-tests) is used by students, to improve their (spoken) English.

** A reading tutor, an app to assist kids learning to read, incl. kids with reading problems (e.g. dyslexia).
Keywords: reading tutor, learning to read (Zwijsen), dyslexia, automatic speech recognition (ASR), (semi-)autom. testing (Cito, Exp.C.Ned.), learning analytics, personalised learning, …

** Research on language learning at the spin-off company NovoLanguage,
using the resources developed at NovoLanguage,
e.g. ‘Novo Studio’ (a kind of ‘editor’ which can be used to easily create exercises).
E.g. within the MyST and ‘reading tutor’ projects, but there are more options.

** Analyze the speech of professional speakers; e.g. politicians, TV personalities, …
Some speakers seem to talk [very] fast, e.g. ‘Matthijs van Nieuwkerk’ (of DWDD). But do they really speak fast, and how do they do it?
Some speakers seem to say [very] little although they talk a lot, e.g. ‘Ivo Opstelten’ and other politicians. Do they really say so little, and how do they do it?
It has been mentioned that some speakers received training to become better, more convincing speakers, e.g. Margaret Thatcher. Did they really change the way they talk, and how (e.g. a lower pitch)?