Satellite Workshop: OJAD

Speech Prosody 2016 Satellite Workshop
OJAD and its use for practical prosody training of Japanese
(OJAD = Online Japanese Accent Dictionary)

Boston University, Saturday, June 4, 2016

Nobuaki Minematsu (Professor of The University of Tokyo, Leader of Project OJAD, Japan)
Keikichi Hirose (Professor Emeritus of The University of Tokyo, Japan)
Emi Yamanaka (Lecturer of Boston University, USA)

Supported by:
Boston University, Department of Modern Languages and Comparative Literature and the NEH Distinguished Teaching Professorship in Humanities,
Japanese Language Class, School of Engineering, the University of Tokyo,
The Japan Foundation,
National Institute for Japanese Language and Linguistics (NINJAL), and
Asia-Pacific Signal and Information Processing Association (APSIPA).

Description and call for participation:
While many learners of Japanese want to acquire good control of the lexical accent and phrase intonation to make their utterances sound more natural, satisfactory prosody training is not given in class. One of the reasons for this is the notorious complicated context-dependent accent change. Even native Japanese often have difficulty in explaining how they change the lexical accent, even though they do unconsciously when speaking. Further, to improve the comprehensibility of learners’ Japanese, adequate control of phrase intonation is important but this fact is not taught satisfactorily in class. To address this situation, Project OJAD and NINJAL (National Institute for Japanese Language and Linguistics) developed a web-based system for Japanese prosody training, called OJAD. OJAD has already been translated into 14 languages from its original Japanese version and, as of June 4, its tutorial workshop will have been given 79 times in 26 countries and the Boston workshop will be the 80-th.

The effectiveness of practicing with OJAD on the improvement of naturalness is presented at a poster session on Tuesday’s afternoon.
Project OJAD received the academic research insentive award from the Phonetic Society of Japan  (PSJ) in 2014.
Project OJAD received the best paper award from Information and System Society of the Institute of Electronics, Information and Communication Engineers (IEICE) in 2016.

1-min PV:

The one-day workshop will serve two purposes. The first is to introduce OJAD, where fundamentals of Japanese prosody are summarized as well as the four features of OJAD are explained through demonstrations and exercises. OJAD uses the Fujisaki model to visualize lexical accent and phrase intonation. After the OJAD session, a demonstration class is given from Kohji Oikawa, who is the most well-known teacher of Japanese in Beijing for his unique and intensive speech training. For six years running, his students have won the championship in the Beijing speech contest of Japanese. One of his female students is now working as a professional voice actress of Japanese animation in Japan. animation in Japan.


Session-1: tutorial workshop of the OJAD
Lecturer: Dr. Nobuaki Minematsu (The University of Tokyo)
Time: 9:00 – 12:30 (including a break)
The language to be used is mainly English and partly Japanese.
If every attendee can understand spoken Japanese, he talks in Japanese.
1) Fundamentals of lexical accent and phrase intonation of Japanese
2) How is a learner’s inadequate prosody perceived by native Japanese?
3) The four features of OJAD
4) An example of an effective use of OJAD in class of speech training

Lunch time:
12:30 – 13:30
Lunch is not provided from the organizers.

Session-2: demonstration class
Lecturer: Kohji Oikawa (JASLON)
Time: 13:30 – 14:30
The language to be used is mainly Japanese and Chinese and partly English.
Oikawa-sensei’s unique method of teaching Japanese pronunciation, especially Japanese prosody, is demonstrated and explained. The organizers are looking for Chinese learners of Japanese and in this session, he will teach them with his method. Participants can observe how the learners’ pronunciation is improved. OJAD will be used partly in his class. A Chinese flyer for his class is found here.

Room 427 or 522 at CAS (College of Arts & Science) Building, Boston University

Capacity: 35 (room 427) or 200 (room 522)


Registration for attendance is free of charge but participants are required to bring their own laptop or tablet, which should be fully charged in advance. Knowledge of Japanese is preferable but without it, one can learn at least how speech and ICT technologies can be applied to language education. For registration, please send an email to Emi Yamanaka ( with its subject being “June 4 workshop”. In the email, you have to show your name, e-mail address, affiliation, and how you are involved in Japanese language education (teacher or learner). The deadline for registration is May 28 (Sat).


Dr. Nobuaki Minematsu received his doctorate in Engineering in 1995 from the University of Tokyo. From 2002 to 2003, he was a visiting researcher at KTH, Stockholm. Currently, he is a full professor at the University of Tokyo. He has a wide range of interests in speech communication ranging from science to engineering. He has published more than 400 papers, including conference papers. They are related to speech analysis, speech perception, speech recognition, speech synthesis, dialogue systems, language learning systems, etc. He has received scientific/technical awards from RISP (2007,2013), JSAI (2007), ICIST (2014), O-COCOSDA (2014), PSJ (2014) and IEICE (2016). He has given tutorial/keynote talks on CALL (Computer-Aided Language Learning) at APSIPA2011, INTERSPEECH2012, O-COCOSDA2015, EJHIB2015, and ISAPh2016. Since 2015, he has been serving as distinguished lecturer for APSIPA.

Kohji Oikawa, born in 1970 in Saitama prefecture in Japan, was graduated with a master’s degree from Beijing Center for Japanese Studies and a degree in Japanese phonetics. Currently, he is the headmaster of JASLON (Japanese Language Salon) located in Beijing. In 2001, he started his teaching career in Peking University and Tsinghua University and has taught Japanese language in China over 10 years. More than 100 students that he trained have won nationwide speech contests. In 2011, he started “Speech Training Marathon” and has given lectures and speech training at 302 schools in China. He also gives teachers’ training courses across Europe and Southeast Asia. His pedagogical activities are widely reported by the mass media both in China and Japan. Recently, he gave seminars to teachers at the University of Tokyo, Waseda University, and Kansai University in Japan.