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What Is Microsoft Immersive Reader and How Does it Work? Best Tips and Tricks for Educators

Microsoft Education
(Image credit: Microsoft Education)

Microsoft Immersive Reader is a free interactive reading tool designed to help students improve their reading, comprehension, and grammar skills. 

It also makes texts more accessible to learners at any level. Since it works with other popular Microsoft programs, it’s easy to implement in your class. 

Read on to find out everything you need to know about Microsoft Immersive Reader.

What is Microsoft Immersive Reader?  

At its core, Microsoft Immersive Reader reads texts aloud to students while simultaneously highlighting the word being read. This allows the text to become accessible to students of different ages and abilities, and also helps emerging readers learn to recognize new words.

But that’s just the beginning of this tool’s functionality. 

You can choose different narration speeds and voices. Users can also adjust the spacing between words and font size and highlight specific parts of speech, such as nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs. You can also break apart the text of words into syllables, hear audio recordings of words spoken in different languages, translate text, and see words represented as pictures. 

Which Microsoft Programs Does Microsoft Immersive Reader Work With?  

Microsoft Immersive Reader is available on the following platforms: 

  • OneNote Online 
  • OneNote Universal App
  • OneNote for Mac and iPad 
  • OneNote Desktop (as a free add-in)
  • Word Online 
  • Word Desktop 
  • Word for Mac, iPad, and iPhone 
  • Outlook Online 
  • Outlook Desktop 
  • Office Lens for iPhone and iPad (iOS)
  • Microsoft Edge browser
  • Microsoft Teams 

How Can Teachers and Students Use Microsoft Immersive Reader?  

The program works seamlessly with Microsoft programs many students and teachers are already familiar with. For instance, to access Immersive Reader from Word, select View then select Immersive Reader. At the bottom of your screen there will be a ‘play’ button. Next to that is a gear to select what voice is speaking and at what speed. 

In the upper right-hand corner of the screen are menu options for text preferences, grammar options, and reading preferences. 

- Text preferences let you adjust font size and increase spacing between words, which may help some readers better see the text. 

- Grammar options allow you to highlight various parts of speech. 

- Reading preferences will allow you to choose the text’s language and has an option to focus on only a few lines of text at a time, which can cut down on distractions for certain students. 

Immersive Reader Tips and Tricks 

Use it For Math 

While Immersive Reader is primarily a reading tool, it has the capability to read numbered math problems. This can be helpful for visually impaired students who require accommodations as well as those who tend to learn better through audio. 

Use it To Help Students Learn Pronunciation 

Have your students use the tool to figure out how to pronounce words they are unfamiliar with, expanding their vocabulary and their ability to enunciate at the same time. 

Use it To Have Students Quiz Themselves on Parts of Speech 

Immersive Reader’s ability to highlight specific parts of speech is a great way to teach students to recognize these. In addition, there are many classroom applications; for example, you might have your students read a short paragraph and bold every verb in the paragraph. Then set the Immersive Reader to highlight the verbs as it reads. Students can self-assess how many verbs they missed and why. 

Use it To Make Reading Accessible to All Students 

Immersive Reader is designed to help students of various reading levels. Its translation abilities are perfect for students learning a new or second language. Its features can also help those who require vision accommodations or who struggle to decode written language. 

Erik Ofgang

Erik Ofgang is a journalist, author and educator. His work has appeared in the Washington Post, The Atlantic and Associated Press. He currently teaches at Western Connecticut State University’s MFA program. While a staff writer at Connecticut Magazine he won a Society of Professional Journalism Award for his education reporting. He is interested in how humans learn and how technology can make that more effective.