Text-Speech Tools

Kindle text to speech
Image by Wesley Fryer (CC BY-SA 2.0)

In my last post, I mentioned that Stanza is compatible with text-speech apps. Not all of the e-reading apps currently available are text-speech compatible – but more about that later. So, what is a text-speech app?

A text-speech app allows students to have a text read to them while they follow along. This is especially helpful for slower readers and students with various learning disabilities. If a student follows along, the text-speech reader acts like a reading coach, pronouncing words correctly as they are highlighted.

Using a text-speech app is not unlike reading with a more experienced reader who gives you feedback when you get stuck on a word. What’s more, using a text-speech app can help students improve reading fluency—the ability to read accurately, quickly, with expression and with understanding—and firm up connections for words in the neural circuits of their brains—but only if students track while they listen. Just listening to the text read will not help students to improve reading fluency.

Traditionally, teachers have used expensive text-speech software on school computers to ease the reading load of students with learning disabilities. Text-speech apps now make this technology much more affordable.

Some text-speech apps are free, while others will cost you a few dollars. I’ve listed a few free apps that you can explore, as well as a paid app that I’m particularly fond of. In this post, I talk about how to make these apps work on your hand-held.

For iPods, smartphones and Androids:
Speak Pad (available for free in the iTunes store)
Speak It! (available for $1.99 in the iTunes store – our favourite)
Classic Text-Speech Engine (available for free at Google Play)
For computers:
Read Please (free)   **No longer available.

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