I want to extend a warm welcome to you all to SLaTE 2007 and to the mountains of Southwestern Pennsylvania. I hope you enjoy the area and all that it has to offer as well as the excellent program of scientific offerings we have.
We are proud to be sponsored by ISCA as an ITRW. I hope you will take full advantage of your ISCA membership and explore all that the association has to offer. We can trace the origins of the use of speech and language technologies for education back to the fearless pioneers who started by extending speech technologies to areas that were deemed impossible at the time. Jared Bernstein looked at non-native speech back in the late ’80s when everyone else was still having a hard time dealing with natives. He combined this hard problem with the challenges of reliably recognizing speech over the phone and of producing a holistic assessment of the quality of non-native speech. At about the same time, Martin Russell took on another challenging area, recognizing children’s speech and combined that challenge with the challenge of tutoring young children to read. The encouraging results of both of these pioneers prompted other new work such as the use of talking heads and breakthroughs in listening comprehension. And some of this work has succeeded so well that companies are actually selling products based on it. One of our keynote speakers, Stephanie Seneff, has an impressive breadth of experience in many of the areas that SLaTE now represents and she will be giving us the benefit of that experience in her keynote talk. The first work centered on speech recognition, but as the years have gone by, more language technologies have come in to play. The meeting in Venice in 2004 saw natural language grammars and information retrieval work for education. This year’s meeting sees an even larger group of technologies, but with it, there is expansion in other directions. At SLaTE 2007 we have made an explicit effort to expand our frontiers further and show the importance of the work in second language learning and in cognitive science to our field. When language technologists test the fruit of their work, the manner in which they take learning into account will drastically change the results they obtain. Nick Ellis and Pamela Bogart are from the area of language learning and will be giving us a perspective of the larger picture into which our work fits in his keynote speech. And so, it is my hope that researchers from various domains will interact during this workshop. It is also interesting to note that half of the authors will also be giving demos! This is evidence of researchers’ interest in extending the development of algorithms into something that can really be used. We have tried to give you enough time to be able to see all of the demos.
Finally, I would like to thank those who have worked on the organizing committee:
Michael Heilman (scientific co-chair),
Mary Jo Bensasi,
Thanks also go to our sponsors: ISCA, the Language Technologies Institute, the CMU School of Computer Science, Ordinate, and Carnegie Speech Company.
Again, I hope that you enjoy the workshop and its venue!