How to Use a Text-Speech App

As mentioned in a previous post, a text-speech tool, when used properly, can act as a reading coach for students who need to improve their reading skills. In this post, I’ll talk about how to use a text-speech app.

First, it’s important to know that the only e-reader that currently has built-in text-speech capability is a later version of the Kindle and the Kindle Touch. You can learn more about the text-speech feature in the Kindle e-reader here.

Most students won’t be seen walking around with a Kindle. Their preferred e-reading tool will likely be some sort of smartphone. I wish I could say that current e-reading apps for smartphones (like Stanza, Kindle and Kobo) have in-app text-speech capabilities, but at this point in time they do not. I’m hoping that this will be remedied in future versions of these apps. Until then, you can get around this limitation by

  • choosing an e-reading app, like Stanza, that has a copy and paste feature; and
  • choosing a text-speech app to copy and paste your text into.

Not all e-reading apps will allow you to copy and paste sections of an ebook that you’re reading, so if you want to use a text-speech app, be sure to choose an e-reading app that has this copy and paste capability. After you’ve selected and copied a section of text, simply open your text-speech app and paste it in. You can then listen to the text read as is it highlighted for you.

Don’t be afraid to play around with the features in your text-speech app. Often, an app will come with one or more reading voices, so choose one that appeals to you. Some apps will also allow you to adjust the reading speed so you can follow along comfortably. If you’re reading on a computer and using free text-speech software like ReadPlease, the process is similar: select, copy and paste.

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