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Audio-only vocab drilling? (And improved Mandarin TTS options)


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Like many, I'm working 100% online at the moment, with a 60-90 minute walk each afternoon in an attempt to stay sane.


I'd like to start using my walking time for daily vocabulary review/drilling, but since I'm walking it will need to be audio-only, on my phone.


In the past I've tried chopping up the audio from the HSK Standard Test textbooks and listening to that (the 生词 sections from each chapter's MP3), but didn't find it a very useful way of reviewing, since I invariably want to stop, repeat etc, and there's no easy way of testing yourself either.


Has anyone developed a good way of doing this kind of thing while walking/jogging/driving? 


For example are there any Anki decks designed purely for audio review?

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@JeroenB — Interesting... it's really ancient though and doesn't work on my Mac, even after replacing the sox binary inside the .app


I could probably throw together a shell script to do something similar, although (as with gradint) it would have to use TTS voices. 


@Jan Finster — Thanks, I'll take a look.  Regarding the Talk Chinese Series books, are the CDs audio or do they have MP3s?  I'm not even sure if I can lay hands on the hardware to rip an audio CD these days!  The dialogue sample sounds a lot like the dialogues in the HSK standard course textbook — certainly they're the same people. 


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39 minutes ago, mungouk said:

are the CDs audio or do they have MP3s?  I'm not even sure if I can lay hands on the hardware to rip an audio CD these days! 

They are small CDs, but they contain mp3 files. So, you can copy them onto your phone. The dialogues are standard small talk. Probably they are similar to HSK material (I do not follow the HSK method)

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Well, what I need right now is audio of the HSK4 vocabulary.


I hacked together a messy shell script to read vocab files and generate audio using built-in TTS voices on OSX. 


I only have one Chinese voice (female, "Ting-Ting") and the quality could be better.  There are plenty of voices for speaking English and I've been using the Irish one (female, "Moira") as I find it least annoying.


Here's HSK 4 Standard Course, Chapter 1 vocabulary.  TTS default settings (I find the Chinese pronunciation a bit too quick here):


HSK4 Chapter 1 vocabulary (r = default).mp3


Same again but with "rate" set to 100, which slows her down a bit, but makes some of the odd artefacts even more prominent (e.g. 原因, 最好).


HSK4 Chapter 1 vocabulary (r = 100).mp3


So I guess my next question is... what are the options for better Chinese TTS voices on OSX?  Paid would be fine.


@mikelove — are any of the TTS voices in Pleco licensable for desktop use?  Or is there even a way of getting Pleco to read out flashcards? ?



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Yes, they're all licensed from ReadSpeaker (formerly NeoSpeech) - https://www.readspeaker.com. With Ting-ting, have you downloaded the enhanced data? (there's an option for it in 'customize') Also I'm not sure which OSX release this was added in, but at least on Catalina there are two Siri Female voices and one Siri Male voice along with Ting-ting.


Our license with ReadSpeaker precludes us from building a generate-audio-files-from-a-bunch-of-text feature ourselves, but we have already implemented automated background flashcard audio playback in internal builds of the next major Pleco update.

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20 minutes ago, mikelove said:

With Ting-ting, have you downloaded the enhanced data? (there's an option for it in 'customize')


Hmm, maybe that's new in Catalina because I'm not seeing it on Mojave 10.14.6.  (I'm sure I'm not the only one still wary of making the jump, and possibly losing essential 32-bit s/w.)


I have downloaded the enhanced version of Tian-Tian on iOS 13.3.1 though.

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Thanks @Luxi, I'll take a look.


I already have the MP3s for the textbooks and workbooks... the major work is in chopping it all up into a format I can use to revise the vocab hands-free — e.g. the original recordings for each chapter just have the 生词 at the end with no English translation.


Then again, if I end up self-isolating then maybe chopping up hundreds of audio files and putting them back together will help to keep me occupied...



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@mungouk  have a look at this one too. Split into small groups and gives more than just the word, I think the short example sentences may help memorizing. The recording quality improves a lot after the first few episodes. 



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Just parking this here for future reference:




Creative Commons Mandarin Audio Pack

Author: Trevor L. Davis
Version: 1.0.0
Date: 2017-07-03

I have assembled a "Collective Work" of Creative Commons licensed Mandarin audio. Note that the audio in the chinese_lessons, sinoslipce, and forvo directories all have a "Noncommercial" term applied and cannot be used for commercial purposes (however the three "Shtooka" audio collections don't have a "Noncommercial" term applied).



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This collection at Shtooka seems to be where a lot of the familiar-sounding samples come from:




(Thought process: Probably preferable to use TTS only for words not already available as high-quality native-speaker recordings.)



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