Free Text to Speech Software Can Help Students Edit Papers

Posted by Erica Warren on

Text to speech software is a valuable tool that comes for free on all Mac computers, and now a number of free apps make this technology available at no cost for PC users too. Text to speech has been used as an accommodation for struggling readers, but did you know that it is also an advantageous device for writers too? In fact, I often teach my students how to use this technology to help them edit their written language.
use text to speech when editing papers

What is Text to Speech Software?

Text to Speech software is a form of speech synthesis that converts text to a spoken computerized voice. This technology was originally created to aid those with vision impairments so that they could hear the written text.

How can Text to Speech Help Students Edit Their Writing?

Many students struggle to edit their own work because when they go back to refine their text, they often glide over mishaps and read it as they meant to write it. Furthermore, there are many errors that are easy to make but difficult to see. For example, for many learners simple letter and word reversals are difficult to detect. If you type the word "from" as "form," you probably won't catch this reversal when scanning your document visually. In addition, many young learners get confused by words that look similar but are pronounced differently such as loose and lose. Text to Speech allows students to hear the mistakes that they may not see!
Teaching Writing

How Can I Access Text to Speech on a Mac Computer?

  • Select the Apple icon on the top left of your screen.
  • Select System Preferences.
  • Click Accessibility.
  • Click Speech.
  • Select "speak selected text when the key is pressed" checkbox.
  • The default for enabling Text to Speech is Option-Esc - or to select a different key, click Change Key, press one or more of the following keys (Command, Shift, Option or Control) together with another key and click OK.
  • You can select a system voice. My favorite is "Alex." You can access more voices by selecting "customize."  You can also change the speaking rate by moving the slider to the left or right. Press "Play" to hear the voice.
  • To have your Mac read text aloud, press the specified keys. To have it stop speaking, press the same keys again. If you want it to read specific text, highlight the text before you select the specified keys.

What Free Text to Speech Apps are available for PCs and Surface Computers?

There are a number of free apps, but my favorites are Voice Typing, Read and Write and Natural Readers.

Clearly, text to speech technology can be a useful resource for students when editing their papers.

Cheers, Dr. Erica Warren
Dr. Erica Warren is the author, illustrator, and publisher of multisensory educational materials at Good Sensory Learning. She is also the director of Learning to Learn and Learning Specialist Courses.

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