PronApp – available for free throughout December 2020 – offers IELTS test practice, conversation simulators for English practice, and French pronunciation practice for the TEF examination.
By Shruti Dargan
Proper pronunciation is the key to mastering any language. And for immigrants, the better their language skills, the easier the likelihood of their settlement and integration journey in their new home country.
The test of pronunciation begins early on in the process for newcomers to Canada or those planning to pursue immigration. The International English Language Testing System or IELTS exam assesses the candidate’s ability to read, write, comprehend and converse in the language. The TEF or Test d’Evaluation du Français tests one’s fluency in French. Even after successfully immigrating to Canada, newcomers continue to exhibit their pronunciation skills, which can make or break their chance to shine in the job market and secure employment in their desired fields.
From online courses to in-person coaching from qualified tutors, there are several resources available globally for improving and testing one’s language proficiency. Toronto-based Pedro Serrador, however, wanted to make pronunciation practice more accessible and effective for aspiring international students and immigrants in different parts of the world as well as newcomers to Canada, especially those who may not have previously had access due to cost restraints or geographic location. And so, he founded PronApp, a pronunciation application that offers full simulations of the IELTS exam (including feedback for the speaking section), conversation simulators for English practice and job interviews, and French pronunciation practice for the TEF examination.
“Pronunciation practice has typically been a stumbling block in online language programs as the ability to provide feedback to the student wasn’t available. But through the use of speech recognition and machine learning, PronApp.com has developed a program that allows the students to interact with their computer and receive an estimated IELTS and TEF score on their pronunciation and fluency of the English or French language. In addition, we offer business English practice and standard job interview Q&A,” says Pedro.
Launched in March 2020 – amid the COVID-19 pandemic – the application helps users practice pronunciation right from the comfort of their homes. It can be accessed online through desktops as well as mobile phones. “Our plans to launch PronApp had been underway for months. No one could have foreseen this pandemic and its devastating impact across sectors, immigration included. But in a way, the timing couldn’t have been more ideal for our users, who due to the pandemic can no longer attend pronunciation classes in person. We offer an experience as personal as that but online, both with help from artificial intelligence (AI) and live tutors,” says Pedro.
PronApp.com allows one to try several free tests before purchasing test packages. The founder highlights the app’s ability to help users recognize their errors, receive immediate feedback and improve the challenging parts of their English proficiency as some of the fundamental features. “Users can pick from a wide range of packages – from small ones just for a few lessons to premium ones, allowing access to a library of tests with varying degrees of difficulty. One can also opt for private tutoring time with a seasoned English teacher. We’re in the process of developing TOEFL practice tests for speaking and pronunciation; those will be available soon,” he says.
Although Pedro states that “the packages offered are low cost”, he has decided to unlock all the features of the application for free for the duration of 2020. “We wanted to assist aspiring international students and immigrants around the world as well as newcomers to Canada as best as we can during this unprecedented time. All the basic and premium features of our application can be accessed at no cost till December 31, 2020,” he concludes.
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