Saturday, April 14, 2012

Dictation App Makes Learning Fun

Recently the English as a Second or Other Language (ESOL) teacher and I collaborated on a lesson that incorporated the use of iPads to help her students practice their English skills in a new way.

For individual practice, we used Dragon Dictation , an app that makes use of voice recognition to help you see your text after speaking it. Students were able to speak a phrase or sentence then watch as the app wrote the words on the iPad screen.

 At first we weren't sure how quickly the 1st and 2nd grade students would take to this activity but five minutes into it, we were pleasantly surprised. We heard lots of giggles when the app interpreted words differently than expected at times. Students quickly figured out that in order for the app to get it right they had to speak as clearly as possible and slow down, a task that would require intentional and careful pronunciation of words.

Overall we found the simple design of the app to be user friendly. While the voice recognition does have it's limitations, after seeing the extra attention and energy it brought to the ESOL lesson, I began to think of other uses for a dictation app in the classroom:

  • Students who are still learning to write and spell could use a dictation app like Dragon Dictation to dictate short stories. It would help them get their ideas down before getting bogged down in the mechanics of writing.
  • Students with special needs that find writing challenging could dictate stories or sentences using the app
  • Students could take turns dictating a sentence one at a time to build a story together.
  • Students could practice letter writing by dictating a letter then emailing it to their teacher or parent (the app has the option to send dictated text as text message or email).
  • Students could practice reading fluency and reading with expression with the dictation app then go back into the text on the screen to edit for punctuation marks as needed.

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