Write in English - with TTS
Hear how letter sounds, words and sentences are pronounced by using this app to read them out to you.
This app is easy to describe. You type words and sentences and it reads them out (the TTS in its title stands for text to speech). Each word is spoken after you push space. The whole sentence is spoken after you put a sentence-ending punctuation mark.
The app is as simple to use as typing using the usual on-screen keyboard. The two questions to consider are: does it work well? What can a teacher use it for?
The text to speech engine that powers this app is surprisingly good, presumably based on Apple's own. It deals with common English words with irregular spellings or silent letters very well. 'Bough' and 'thorough', for example, both use the same letter combinations but with different pronunciations. The app says each word exactly right.
Less common words and place names are somewhat mixed. Bicester is, unexpectedly, pronounced correctly but Loughborough is not. Sadly, in a country of many quirkily spelt names, the app's guidance cannot be considered foolproof for the student of British geography. It is likely, however, that the underlying engine will continue to be improved and these mispronunciations may be dealt with in further updates.
For teachers of children who are not native English speakers, this app could be as useful as a class dictionary. Its reliability with common words means that children in a class can use it to check how to say a word that they have only recently encountered.
An option exists to have the app pronounce each letter sound as it is typed. Obviously, this cannot be perfect as, in English, the letter sound is often only made clear once the whole word is known. For assistance in learning regular commonly used words, this is a useful option to have. Young children may also enjoy learning from this function and also just typing words to see how the sounds combine.
Further options allow you to tailor the app to suit your students. Font size and the speed of the speech are both controllable.
Further assistance for students is provided in other options that can be toggled. The font used by the app compares favourably to handwriting and can be laid over guide lines to show how letters should be formed. Useful worksheets to take this further can also be printed from within the app making it easy for teachers to have them to hand when they need them. This feature isn't as fully-fledged as you might find on a dedicated handwriting app but it provides extra value here.
This app is a more useful one than you might at first think. At first, it feels something of a novelty, and children could be tempted into spending too much time extracting less than desirable entertainment from it. Teachers may have to observe for this. However, used in conjunction with a dictionary, it can offer students useful support and allow them to learn and check how to say new words independently.
From the Developer
Write in English is a simple writing program. The letters look the same on screen as letters written by hand. TTS (Text to Speech) reads the word aloud when the space bar is pressed, and reads out the complete sentence when pressing the final punctuation.
You can listen to the letter sounds.
There is also the opportunity to practice handwriting by using the worksheets.
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