- #1 Using speech-to-text apps to summarize and paraphrase
- #2 Using speech-to-text apps to practice pronunciation and enunciation
Why not put your students’ smartphones to work in your classroom? Free speech-to-text apps such as Dragon Dictation (iOS), Dragon Mobile Assistant (Android) or ListNote (Android) can aid your students’ ability to write summaries and paraphrases and help them practice pronunciation and enunciation. Additionally, students with iPhones can use Siri's dictation capabilities for the same purpose.
This can be used as an ongoing activity throughout the semester. It incorporates a simple technique that motivated students can practice on their own to improve their speaking by recording their words and then creating their own transcripts. Evernote is used in order to help students more easily organize their audio recordings, as opposed to students having a large collection of untitled recordings on their phones. It is also used as the recording tool itself.
A. Prepare appropriate questions for student use which will elicit a short 20-60 second response. These could be questions related to student life on topics where students can readily express their opinions.
Example questions: What is the best way to improve your speaking? What are some things you like best about the place where you live?
B. Students should be asked to download the free Evernote app onto their mobile devices before class.
Introducing Evernote to the class
There are two basic methods for recording audio in Evernote:
I. Create a note first, then add audio.
II. Record immediately, then title the note (Android only)
An example of a recording I created in the Evernote app on my Android mobile phone is here.
Ask your students to each create a folder for their class recording within the Evernote app. This is where they will keep all of their notes and recordings. For organization, the best practice would be to create a new note for each recording and title it with the date and a descriptive title.
Students are now ready to begin their tasks.
1. Put the students in pairs and distribute the questions.
2. Each student will record their audio onto their own phone. Partner A can be responsible for operating Partner B’s phone while he/she talks, and vice versa. Students should record a response that is no longer than a minute.
3. For homework, students first should transcribe their audio exactly, then go back and make any corrections in a different color. The transcript should show both the original recording and the corrections. If students have Evernote installed on their computers, it may be efficient for the student to transcribe the audio directly in the note which contains the recording. This note can be printed out for submission.
4. Additionally, students should write a brief, one paragraph reflection on what they learned from the task. This raises the students’ awareness of their speaking habits, and may also help students reflect on any personal progress.
Meet Evernote, your new best friend
This activity uses Iconosquare.com (formerly Statigram), a website which can be used to search Instagram. Students will search hashtags for emotion adjectives and discuss the results.
1. Assign a common adjective to each discussion pair.
Examples: happy, sad, excited, amazing
2. Students use Iconosquare to search Instagram. As an example, type the word "happy" and then click the tag icon. The live results should look similar to the following:
3. Using these results, have students work in pairs to discuss whether the results are what they expected to find. Is there any common thread between the photos?
4. Students present their conclusions to the class. This step is important as it gives students motivation to do the task well.
Note of caution
There is no way to block any explicit content that could come up in the search results.
In this activity, students caption digital photos of their family traditions in order to practice descriptive writing and to improve presentation skills.
1. Ask students to find a photo which can be used to show one their family or cultural traditions.
In class in pairs, have students share with one partner about their photos. This will serve as brainstorming for captions.
2. Ask students to spend some time in class writing short captions.
3. As homework, students should import their photos into PowerPoint and create captions using the drawing tools. Alternately, Mac users can use Preview’s drawing tools.
4. Students will present their work to the whole class by projecting their captioned photos and giving a brief oral presentation.
Below is an example:
Some students may lack the technological knowledge to complete this assignment. This may require extensive instructor support. Additionally, food and holiday related vocabulary is needed.
DVD movies and online video clips are great resources that students can use as models for correct pronunciation. The film needs to contain English subtitles or closed captioning. Alternately, students could have additional listening practice by transcribing their own scripts. This method would also allow students to annotate their scripts with intonation markings.
Students can use two methods:
Above is a video I created to model these methods to students.