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Multilingual Children’s Speech Assessment Platform for Literacy and Language Learning

Project description

A multilingual app to improve children’s reading skills

Despite literacy being a fundamental skill, 2 in 10 children in the EU continue to struggle with reading. Disadvantaged and immigrant children face even greater difficulties, lagging further behind in their reading skills. The urgency to address this problem is heightened by the fact that multilingualism is increasingly vital in our globalised world. The EU-funded SpeechTech4Literacy project aims to use speech technology to revolutionise digital literacy and language learning apps. By enabling these apps to listen and assess children as they read aloud, the project will provide real-time feedback and personalised guidance to enhance reading and language skills. SpeechTech4Literacy platform is designed specifically for children. While currently available only in English, the project plans to expand its platform to 13 languages.


Literacy is a foundational skill, yet 20% of EU children have difficulty reading, unchanged over the past decade. This problem is more serious for disadvantaged and immigrant children, who lag even further behind in reading skills. Multilingualism is both a needed and desired skill across the globe.
Speech technology has the potential to be a game changer by voice enabling digital literacy and language learning apps to ‘listen’ (and assess) as the child reads aloud, providing the child individual real-time feedback to rapidly improve reading and language skills and track student progress and difficulties.
Adult speech technology systems don’t work for children and existing commercial systems for children are predominantly English and only work in quiet ‘lab-like’ environments, severely limiting their real-world use. SoapBox Labs (SBL) has developed a children's speech assessment platform for real-world conditions such as homes and schools and made the platform available for open license into 3rd party digital learning products, maximising potential for market penetration and impact.
Our ambition is to extend our existing English platform, scaling to 13 languages by 2022 and targeting a global market of 187M children, €3B opportunity.
SBL closed a €1.2M fundraise in Jan 17 and has received widespread support from leading academics, educators and industry stakeholders. SBL’s innovations will have a positive impact on children (through robust, widely accessible and affordable products), industry stakeholders (opening new product channels for education publishers, EdTech companies and developers) and SBL (international expansion with estimated revenues of €33M in 2022; 83 direct/indirect jobs).
The project provides a major achievable step toward raising stagnant EU children’s literacy levels, reaching children no matter where they are, on everyday consumer mobile devices, opening a portal to learning and empowerment, particularly for the most vulnerable.

Call for proposal


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Net EU contribution
€ 1 486 922,50

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The organization defined itself as SME (small and medium-sized enterprise) at the time the Grant Agreement was signed.

Ireland Eastern and Midland Dublin
Activity type
Private for-profit entities (excluding Higher or Secondary Education Establishments)
Total cost
€ 2 124 175,00