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WorkAudioBook – a tool for listening practice (and subtitle creation)


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@hedwards - hope you find it helpful.


I find you can tackle two birds with one stone - listen through an MP3 and study against the transcript, and mark it up with timing information very easily so you can turn sentences into cards quickly afterwards.  

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Dropped the developer a note to point him towards this topic - he sounds happy to hear people are using it for other languages and says he'll drop in and say hello once he's back from holiday at the end of the month. 

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I think the main challenge I'm having is that the subtitles on the video I'm using aren't well synced, and editing in the program is a bit of a challenge. Hopefully he'll be willing to display the time code for the selection as it's rather challenging right now to edit the subtitles if they don't match up with the selections that the program is making. And better yet, let people use the subtitle time codes for the default phrase lengths.


I do see a ton of potential here though.

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If you already have subtitles and just want to make Anki cards with Subs2SRS, it might be a matter of adjusting the timing.  Usually the problems are an offset (e.g. the film starts 6 seconds later than the subtitles thinks it does) and PAL/NSTC framerate differences (which lead to a 4% different runtime for the film so everything gets progressively more out of sync).  If those are your problems, better to fix the subtitles first.  Let me know and I'll dig out the names of the tools that can do this.

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Tysond, I'll take another look. The subtitles aren't from the original source, they're custom, I'm not really sure if they're based on a PAL or NTSC source.


I'm hoping that you're right, the part of the DVD i'm looking at has some fairly long pauses and it's hard to say if the subtitles are imprecise or if there's something else going on.

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Thanks Tyson, I'll try that. Most likely I'll just go scene by scene through the movie, assuming that it doesn't turn out to be a constant amount or that 4% you reference.


And now that I think about it, I think the DVD did have 2 different running lengths. I'll look into that, but I think one was off by about 10 minutes from the other without any obvious reason. I wonder if just switching to the other option would solve most of these problems.

Either way I'll lett you know. This tool looks very useful, but mostly if I can find adequate materials to run through it.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Many thanks tysond for alerting us all to WorkAudioBook.


I was created key vocab and key sentence Anki notes manually using Audacity. By combining the tracks for the last six lessons of my current university course into one audio file with Audacity, I was then able to use WorkAudioBook to produce all the Anki notes for my last six lessons in one go, taking only about a quarter of the time it would normally take.


I have posted a review of WorkAudioBook, including a link to this thread, on the internal closed forum for my Open University Beginners Course. I have reproduced my review in slightly edited form below in case it also helps any Chinese Forums users who are beginners, like me:


A new tool for listening to and repeating audio phrases, optionally alongside transcripts


Listening to an individual audio track on CDs, MP3 players or on a PC if fine but I've found this difficult because:

  • the audio is usually too quick for me to follow, especially when I first study a Lesson,
  • there is not enough of a pause on the track, in between phrases, for me repeat the phrase to myself
  • it is not easy to break the audio down into short phrases and repeatedly practice (listen and repeat) an individual phrase
  • going back and repeating short phrases is difficult on a CD, or even when playing MP3s on an MP3 player or PC.

Has anyone else had the same difficulties?



Thanks to this thread on Chinese-Forums, I was alerted to a free tool, WorkAudioBook, which can help with the problems above. WorkAudioBook will:

  1. automatically segment an audio file into short phrases
  2. makes it easy to repeatedly practice a phrase
  3. allow you to link each audio segment to the corresponding segment of text in a transcript file.

WorkBookAudio is very easy to use for just listening and repeating phrases, to improve fluency in speaking.



Optionally, you can link each audio segment to the corresponding segment of text in a transcript file. I've tried to write a step-by-step guide:

  1. In WorkBookAudio, click the Open button and then select an audio file from one of the CDs
  2. Open the transcript for the audio file in any text editor and copy the required transcript to the clipboard
  3. In WorkBookAudio, select the SubTitles Editor tab, if not already selected, and then click Edit to select edit mode,
  4. then paste the transcript text into the large blank SubTitlesEditor window
  5. and finally click the Edit button to return to normal mode
  6. Now you can step through the audio using the large 'radio' buttons at the bottom of the screen or press the 'N' key
  7. and play individual phrases, again using one of the 'radio' buttons or by pressing the '[sPACE]' key
  8. Having selected an audio segment, you can link it to the corresponding segment of text in the transcript by using the mouse cursor to select the text and then clicking the +Add button
  9. Once you have finished linking each audio segment to its corresponding text segment, click the Import button on the left and then click the SRT File button at the bottom left.
  10. This will save your transcript and timing links to the audio file in the same folder as the audio file, as an SRT file.
  11. Now, every time you open the audio file in WorkBookAudio, it will be linked to the transcript.
  12. You can step through your selected phrases using the the methods above or by using the blue radio buttons in the Subtitles Editor tab's tool bar
  13. You turn the display of the transcript on or off easily by checking the Show Always checkbox at the right, or just reveal it one phrase at a time after you have listened to the phrase by pressing the s key.
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  • 2 weeks later...

I see that you are creating the subs for MP3s. If some of these MP3s are without copyright / in public domain (may be audiobooks from LibriVox or some other source) -- I will be grateful if you'll share the link to the source of these MP3s + subs that you've made. So I would put your work to my web site as an example of one more language that you can learn using WAB. Also your fellow forum members will say you Thanks! :)


P.S. Thanks tysond for sharing subs for podcast about Dragonboat festival from "Slow Chinese" from -- I see that according to http://www.slow-chinese.com/about/ it is free to distribute for non-commerical purpose.

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Regarding Slow Chinese, they do say NoDerivatives — If you remix, transform, or build upon the material, you may not distribute the modified material.


I don't know if subtitles count as a derivative work.  I sent an email to the Slow Chinese team to ask their advice. 

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Hi Sergey,


Many thanks for developing and sharing this awesome tool. I'm only just beginning to appreciate how useful the tags are for skipping over the unmarked and easier phrases, to concentrate on those phrases which I still find difficult to pronounce.


I'm sure you have your own plans and list of improvement you intend to make. I am only a beginner here, so others would be in a better position to comment on how useful and feasible this would be but, If I could make one suggestion,


I suspect WorkAudioBook would be an even more awesome tool for improving Chinese pronuciation if it were feasible to link it to Praat to display the pitch contour of the currently selected phrase in WAB and the pitch contour of the user's most recent voice input from a microphone.


(Praat is GPL'd and seems to be umanaged C++, whilst WAB seems to be written in managed C++ using .NET WinForms, so I guess you'd need to write a managed wrapper for the unmanaged Praat libraries. Alternatively, you might use Praat scripting, as does SpeakGoodChinese (a GTK application, not WinForms) to draw pitch contours from microphone input.)

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