Text-to-Speech:Let the Computers Talk by Ozge Karaoglu

Increasing access to the internet and different Web 2.0 tools have provided different, engaging and fun alternatives to teachers. Now, we can create our own web based activities easily with free and various tools that can be easily accessed by the learners. We can create our own videos, podcasts, upload them and share them with other teachers or our students, create digital stories using animations. Furthermore, there are many other websites that will help our learners to improve four essential skills; reading, speaking, listening and writing as well as grammar and vocabulary.

Text-to-speech applications can be an alternative way to check the pronunciation of words and sentences or to create listening activities. The applications let us listen to any written text, create audio narration of the text with a human sounding voice, adjust the pitch and decide on the speed and the accent. Here are some of these applications:

Vozme lets you turn your text into speech. You can choose a male or a female voice and you create mp3 files and listen to them anywhere you are.

ReadtheWords is a service that can generate sounding audio file from almost any written material. It can read the words out loud, that you you want it to read. There are 15 different voice selection and you can hear a sample before you create it. This application can also read Spanish and French too.

iSpeech is another text-to-speech application that will convert your text (Word, Excel, Powerpoint, PDF, blogs, RSS feeds etc.) content into audio with minimal effort, no software installation and no technical expertise. You can download it, podcast it or embed it to your blog or your website.

HearWho converts your text to speech and saves it as an MP3 file so that you can listen to it on any device capable of playing MP3 files, such as ipods, PDAs, mobile phones, MP3 players.

NaturalReaders can convert your text such as MS Word, Webpage, PDF files, and Emails into spoken words. It can also convert any written text into audio files such as MP3 or WAV for your CD player.

Text2Speech is another free online text to speech converter.

Kakomessenger is a fun text to-speech application. It's a singing telegram machine that will sing your text. You choose between two singers, Gina and Humphrey, write your text and let the singers sing them for you.

TalkingPets is another fun text-to-speech application that makes the pets talk. You chose your pet, accessorize it, write your text, choose the voice and your pet is ready to talk.

ReadSpeaker is a site that gives your website or your blog a voice. There are nine languages and 18 voices to choose from. By using this service, you can attract your visitors, make it easy to read your content and enable your readers to do something else while they listen to your blog.

Voki can be an alternative to text to speech applications. You can write your text, choose the accent and let the Voki avatar says it for you. You can get the link or embed it to your blog or your website.

SayitRight is a text-to-speech software that assists you with English pronunciation of the words. You can also slow down the text and see the mouth movements for a sound or word.

Although text-to-speech applications provide human sounding listening, give us a chance to facilitate learning, they sometimes lack the right intonation and stress, but I believe with the growing technologies, text-to-speech applications will provide us with the natural speech in the near future.

Cross posted on my blog.