Thursday, March 12, 2015

Reinforce listening and pronunciation with the Google Chrome extension Read & Write

As a Spanish teacher I am always looking for new ways that my students can practice their oral/aural proficiency. One of my new favorite tools to use with my students is the Read & Write Google Chrome extension. This tool allows for students to have text read to them in Spanish as well as the option for an accent from Spain or Mexico. This has been an incredible way for students to practice their listening as well as learn about the differences in pronunciation between a speaker from Mexico and Spain. Read & Write is an incredible tool to help out students in many languages with their reading and listening skills.

Read & Write is simple to use and can be used on any text from the web to have it read aloud to the reader. Along with English and Spanish it also can read Brazilian Portuguese, Portuguese, French, Dutch, German, Italian, Indonesian, Swedish and Polish. Any article from the internet or Google Doc assignment can work with Read & Write. Here is how Read and Write can look in a news article.
By highlighting text from an article and pressing the "play" button from Read & Write the text will be read with a voice in the chosen language. Using the settings menu you are able to select the voice that you would like the text read in. The students can also select the speed at which the text is read which is a great tool for new language learners.

For student assignments I create Google Docs with the questions the students are learning and then instruct them how to use Read & Write to practice their pronunciation while answering the questions. Here is a video of one of my students practicing their assignment with Read & Write.

How to install Read & Write:

To use Read & Write in a Google Doc the first step is to install the Google Chrome Extension from the Chrome Web Store

Once installed the extension will reside on the top right of your Chrome browser and will look like a purple puzzle piece.

The extension will now work in any webpage by simply clicking the puzzle piece and highlighting text to read. 

Change the voice from the gear icon. From here click on voice and browse the different languages and accents that the text can be read back in. 

For use in Google Docs:

To use Read & Write in a Google Doc you will click the puzzle piece and then click the additional puzzle piece which will be hanging below the web address bar. Read & Write will ask for an additional permission to run in Docs after it is clicked. 

How is your Spanish pronunciation? Try the new Google Docs Add-On, and see if it understands your accent.

I recently came across the Google Docs Add On Speech Recognition and have so far found it as an incredible tool especially for language learning. The Add On uses the same technology that Google uses on its homepage for speech recognition. This means that it is good and getting better each day.  What is most impressive to me about the Add On is the amount of languages and even accents that it has to choose from.  Go ahead and try it, I'm sure your curious about your own accent!  It has an incredible amount of accents to use, especially for Spanish.

This add-on has really helped me develop a whole new layer to my Spanish classes. My students can correctly answer questions and speak spanish. But now they can make sure they don't sound like Keanu Reeves in Point Break. (One of the great movies of all time none the less). The Add-On will not work if you don't put effort into your pronunciation, and this has really done an incredible job giving individual students valuable feedback to how they are speaking.  I have already noticed students who at first could not get a single word to work, are now after some practice doing whole sentences and really speaking with a better accent. 

The add-on also has an added bonus in that it will not spell out adult language!  This is actually a lot of fun and I recommend you give this a try with the same crowd of friends you usually play cards against humanity with. All you will see though is the first letter followed by stars like this s***  .So this Add-On will prevent foul mouth students from at least speaking any poor language on their docs.

Give it a try and let me know what you think!  The Add-On is only for Google Docs and can be found at the bottom of the Add-On list.