Review by Dana Villamagna, Common Sense Education | Updated December 2012
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ClaroSpeak US

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Give kids a voice with supportive, quality text-to-speech tool

Common Sense says
Teachers say (1 Review)
$avg_user_learning_rating
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Grades
2-12 This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
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Pros: Simple user interface makes it accessible to kids of varying ages and needs.

Cons: Voice choices are limited, unless you make in-app purchases.

Bottom Line: It's easy to use, and the multiple settings and functions make this app well worth the price.

Depending on student needs, there are a ton of ways to incorporate this app into classroom use. It could be an outstanding resource for special needs classes or helping kids with different learning styles keep up with reading concepts. Kids could also proofread writing or get a clearer understanding of what they've written by hearing their own words read back to them; great for essays, stories, or even poems.

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ClaroSpeak US is a text-to-speech app you type or paste content into, then tap the play button to hear the audio. It can save content as audio or text files, and users can send files via email, text message, or save them to Dropbox. In-app purchases are available for different voices in 27 languages.

When you open the app, a white screen appears, where you can enter words using a keypad or by pasting from another source. Across the top of the screen is a toolbar with a set of options: tap to open text, audio, or Dropbox-based files; paste, undo, or clear text; get more info; and play, save, or send content. You can also clear text by shaking the device. Set customizable settings from the tool bar, including rate of speaking voice, font, color, and a feature called "typing echo" (words are echoed after they are typed).

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ClaroSpeak US has some unique features that place it a notch above many other apps of its kind, like highligting each word on the screen as the text is spoken. While text-to-speech apps may not directly apply to many of the Common Core standards beyond 2nd Grade, they can certainly support Language Arts, Social Studies and others for kids with special needs at any grade level.  From creating audio versions of textbook chapters or worksheets for kids who have impaired vision, dyslexia, or other learning challenges (or are reading below grade level for whatever reason), to a kid copying a rough draft of a report into the app and listening to the spoken playback, this app is an incredibly useful tool. For kids with speech challenges but who can read and type, this app also provides a stand-in voice for them.

While the five voices provided are quite natural, they're far from perfect. Still, none of the five are hard on the ear and the app's pronunciation of words is almost always spot-on.

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Overall Rating
3

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?
3

Kids who need the support of this app to read or communicate will likely find it highly engaging. Fun isn't a big issue; it's designed well and serves its purpose.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?
4

A deeper quality of learning is facilitated by making it easier for kids to communicate or absorb information that may prove challenging in a different form.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?
3

The "Visit Website" option under the app's "i" tab moves users out of the app and to the developer's website, where they will find a very thorough user guide and FAQ for support. There are many customizable settings.


Common Sense Reviewer
Dana Villamagna Classroom teacher

Teacher Reviews

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Featured review by
Lucy H. , Technology coordinator
Technology coordinator
4
Text to Speech and Document Editor assists ELL and Dyslexic Learners

ClaroSpeak has four educational advantages over free Text to Speech apps that justify its modest price (2.99 for iPad): 1. highlighting options that enable the user to select word, phrase or sentence. 2. Ability to select from 5 speaking speeds 3. Word prediction to aid document editing. 4. Options for saving edited documents. ClaroSpeak could be improved by including speakers of different" Englishes" within a single app. It would also be helpful to be able to import files from Dropbox without internet access. Currently the app reads documents offline, but requires internet to fetch them.

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