english language learners and voice recognition software

It’s an exciting time in our careers to have a vast amount of apps at our disposal.  Truth be known, the multitude of apps can be quite overwhelming and it takes time to sort through and find that ‘right’ app tailored to the learner’s needs.  I would say this has been a  challenge but all worth it when that effective app unleashes its power.  Oral language acquisition often arrives sooner than does reading or writing.  For this reason, I wanted to find an effective voice recognition app that could record an ELLs oral English and display their ideas in text form.   Even beyond that, one that could record an ELL’s first language, capturing their thoughts and ideas and then translate and display  in English text.

WordQ for the ipad does this nicely.  It is similar to WordQ on desktop computers in that it has word recognition as students type, but it also has the bonus feature of voice to text.  It is also much more effective than the Dragon Speaking app which can have difficulty recognizing words from students with accents from their first language.  WordQ for the ipad also has more sharing capabilities.  The Google translate app for ipad is also more powerful than the traditional online version with more languages and a powerful voice to text tool.  This Google app also orally translates a student’s first language into English text.  It’s an amazing feature that can unlock our ELL’s ideas in L1, previously blocked by a language barrier.


gamification = gratification ?

I often think so, but does the gratification come at a price?  Some of the apps we have been using are engaging and motivating for our students but the gratification may come all too easy.  With a tap of the screen students can get the right answer or change their wrong answer accordingly, moving on to the next task without a second thought.  They are looking for instant points or a bell, buzzer, song, something to let them know they are doing a good job.  This can be a great motivational and engagement tool but are our students getting rewarded far too easy, with very little effort in some cases?  Should they have to work harder without the bells and buzzers, grind it out as they say to achieve, or have our students come to expect this instant gratification?  Some might say, “no harm in immediate positive feedback”, but could this be giving them a false sense of achievement?

Just some thoughts.


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