Friday, November 09, 2007


Lately I've been telling my writing students: If you have trouble reading, get the computer to read it to you. Actually I'm not sure exactly how this works, but I do know it's possible; the blind, for example, do it all the time. I believe that it is a very useful application of computers for several reasons. First, if you have good listening but poor reading, use your good listening to get used to hearing what you read; if you do them both, together, often enough, your reading will improve. Second, often we aren't testing reading alone (I as a writing teacher certainly am not), but it does make a difference, whether you just have a glancing awareness of the main points of an article, vs. whether you have a real understanding of all its main points. For one thing, you can get used to a more academic style of discourse, and you'll be more likely to be able to produce it eventually.

So, for those of you who are willing to give it a try, start here:

Gonzalez, D. (2007, September). Text-to-Speech Applications Used in EFL Contexts to Enhance Pronunciation. TESL-EJ Online Journal. Accessed 11-07.

This article is actually for teachers, specifically teachers who want to use text-to-speech with pronunciation classes, but it has a review of text-to-speech software, with links, that will surely get anyone started. Some text-to-speech applications are free, I believe, but I have not actually gotten in there to see how any of them work.

Then, if you do, please let me know, which one works, which one is good; which is most accessible for students, etc. Somebody wrote in once, and commented, I thought on this very blog, about the subject, but I have been unable to find it.

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