An essential part of improving student’s fluency in a foreign language is providing practice in speaking. However, for practice to be effective, students have to receive feedback on their pronunciation skills. This apptivity is designed to give students an opportunity to document their fluency improvement.
To complete this activity, you’ll need to download the free app Dragon Dictation. Dragon Dictation is a voice recognition program where you can speak and see your words instantly converted to text. Students will use it along with the Voice Memo app on the iPod touch or any other voice recording app on the iPad.
First, assign students a phrase or short passage to practice. Have students use the Voice Memo app to record themselves speaking the phrase and email or transfer this file to the teacher as a way to show their baseline pronunciation. You might have students say their name and class period first so you can keep track of the files as you listen.
Next, have students open the Dragon Dictation app and use the settings (icon on the bottom right of the screen) to select the language being practiced. Currently, Dragon Dictation recognizes English, German, French, Italian, Spanish, and Japanese.
Speaking clearly into the mic, students should repeat the phrase and allow Dragon Dictation to predict their words. If they’ve done well, the text should match the phrase being spoken. If not, students can see which words were incorrectly interpreted and try again.
Once students are happy with the results, they can return to Voice Memo and again record their voice as a final check. This file can again be emailed or transferred to the teacher as documentation of their progress.
It’s important to note that Dragon Dictation will begin to learn to correctly predict the pronunciation of the speaker, especially if students correct the text as it appears in the app. For this reason, if students are going to share an iPod, you’ll want to use the settings to reset the app before each student trial.
I’ve seen this apptivity done with a High School foreign language class and it’s really fun to see how students enjoy practicing when they can receive immediate feedback! I’d also think this would be good for ESL students to practice their English skills.