Gadgets for EdGeeks: Microsoft Word Speech Function

Last week EdGeeks reviewed Dragon Speaking Naturally, a speech-recognition software program, and discussed how it could be used to support writing. Today, I am featuring another possible option for supporting students at home (or in a classroom with computers/laptops). What is so great about today’s post? If you have a computer at home, chances are you probably have Microsoft Word and this post will teach you how to tap into a special function that can revolutionize working with your child!

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Tech Tool: Microsoft Word Speech Function (This function includes both speech-recognition and text-to-speech. This particular review focuses on text-to-speech capabilities since last week’s post was in regards to speech-recognition.)

Description: For those of you who are already proud owners of Microsoft Office…here is a nice tool for you! Microsoft Word has a speech function that allows any Word Document to be read aloud. This is referred to as “text-to-speech” and can be a very helpful tool for readers at any level.

Application in the Classroom: This tool can support readers at all levels by taking a challenging text and reading it aloud. If you have a splitter and headphones, you can potentially have multiple students listening to a text at once.

Concrete Examples of In-Classroom Use: This function can support students in the classroom in many ways. It can:

  • Take a challenging text that you have found online and read it aloud
  • Read aloud the news
  • Read aloud a piece of writing that a student has written
  • Support students with editing and revision by playing back the audio version so they can hear what their writing sounds like

Concrete Examples of At-Home Use: 

  • Help your child with a challenging reading assignment
  • Help improve your child’s writing by having him/her listen to the audio version while editing
  • Help your child research a topic by copying and pasting the content into a Word Document and using the speech function to read it aloud
  • Many teachers now post homework online – download a worksheet and have the instructions to an assignment read aloud
Appropriate Grade Levels: K – Forever
How it Works: Instructions below are based on Microsoft Office 2008)
Step 1: Open a Microsoft Word Document
Step 2: Type an original text or copy and paste a text from an online resource
Step 3: Click View, Toolbars, Speech (See photo below)
Step 4: Highlight the text that you would like to be read aloud
 Step 5: Go to the speech box and click on the microphone icon
Special Note: If you go into system preferences you have a lot of options for the speech function including both text-to-speech and speech-recognition functions. (See photo below)

Step 3

Special Note

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