The Pop2Talk Nordic game in autumn 2023

Hi, I’m Nhan Phan, a PhD student at Aalto University. I’m part of the Teflon project, and my role is to maintain the Pop2Talk Nordic mobile application. Pop2Talk is a language learning game that allows children to imitate words that were said during the game progress, and get a rating of their pronunciation. Based on the original game version intended for English, the Pop2Talk Nordic version expanded to Nordic languages. As I write this blog post, we have successfully developed four different versions of the game. These include:

  • A Finnish version for children who find it challenging to pronounce the phoneme “R”.
  • A Swedish version for children with Speech Sound Disorder.
  • And two other versions for children who want to learn Norwegian or English.

While much of the project’s foundational work was led by experienced partners in children’s speech-language pathology and in automatic speech recognition technology, I was fortunate to be involved in the project, being responsible for the design and maintenance of both the server and the mobile game.

With our need for illustrations in multiple languages, we turned to the latest AI technology for automatic image generation. I provided our partners with technical instructions on crafting text prompts to ensure the resulting images were both captivating and child-friendly. To my surprise, the images they produced were outstanding, surpassing all my expectations. Check out this cool picture from Magdalena at Karolinska Institutet. Funny thing, the girl is the spitting image of my 2-year-old daughter. I had to ask right away to use it as my daughter’s avatar.

When I showed the game to my daughter, she was super into it—even though she’s just starting to learn Finnish. She got so hooked that I had to yank the phone from her! I really hope other kids get just as excited when they play (and fingers crossed, they’ll want to take a break after a while).

As we move into October, we’re preparing for numerous experiments. These will study how children acquire vocabulary and pronunciation, and evaluate the game’s effectiveness in helping them. Those experiments will be conducted in various schools across Finland, Sweden and Norway. My primary focus at the moment is to ensure the server runs without any serious problems.