How I Use It
ClaroSpeak has been used by Chinese English learners I've worked with for 3 purposes: 1. As a combination proofreading and editing tool that allows students to "hear" their mistakes and make immediate corrections to drafts, which can then be saved from within the app to a Dropbox folder. For editing, the built-in word prediction function is especially useful. 2. As a pronunciation guide and oral reading coach. Though far from engaging, the ClaroSpeak reading voices are accurate and can help ELLs learn the correct pronunciation of academic English words they will be called upon to use correctly in an oral presentation. 3. As listening comprehension practice. The option of creating and saving an audio reading of a text enables an English learner to hone listening skills. Finally, for dyslexic learners, research has shown that text to speech programs like ClaroSpeak have two significant benefits: 1. They provide "relief" from the energy-sapping work of visual reading and 2. Research done by Ray Kurzweil, developer of the first assistive reading technology, shows that text to speech, far from becoming a crutch, actually improves phonemic awareness in struggling readers.
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.