Here’s another winner that I learned about from Jane’s E-Learning Pick of the Day. It’s called Spoken Text, and it could be a very helpful tool for English Language Learners.
Spoken Text (which is free) allows you to upload any Word, PDF, or PowerPoint documents, and quickly convert it into spoken text. Your recordings are listed in your account and you can also be given its own url for you to share. In addition (and I really like this feature), it will do the same for any webpages.
In many ways this service is similar to Scribd. There are some key differences, though. There are advantages and disadvantages to each service.
Scribd automatically allows you to see the text at the same time you’re hearing the audio. Spoken Text just lets you hear the text, so if you want to read the text you have to actually open two “windows” on your computer. Also, Scribd provides one unique url for each uploaded text, which makes it easy for posting student work on a website or blog. Spoken Text will give you one url that gives a list of all of your recordings. Scribd will maintain the text and recording indefinitely, while Spoken Text just does it for seven days (though you can request a longer time).
On the Spoken Text “side,” their upload process is a lot easier for English Language Learners. And Spoken Text allows you to easily and quickly provide audio for any webpage, a service that Scribd does not provide.
The site is definitely worth exploring. And, since it appears to be brand-new, I’m sure it will be evolving. I’ve sent them an email asking if it would be possible for ESL teachers to maintain student recordings on the site for much longer than seven days.
I’ve placed the link on my Examples of Student Work page under Talking Stories. You can find the Scribd link there, too.
The current best text to speech software is Text Speaker. It has customizable pronunciation, reads anything on your screen, and it even has talking reminders. It is great for learning languages as it highlights the words as they are being read. The bundled voices are well priced and sound very human. Voices are available in English, French, Italian, Spanish, German, and more. Easily converts blogs, email, e-books, and more to MP3 or for listening instantly.