Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Language Learners brought up to speed, App #19--vozMe and Visuwords


(Both of these applications are simple language resources that can go a long way in the classroom. vozMe is a text-to-speech translator and Visuwords is a graphic dictionary that shows concepts and connections between words.)

Synopsis: These applications are both free Web 2.0 tools that can be used to improve language apprehension. Visuwords is an online dictionary with an important twist. Rather than giving a list of definitions, it creates a graphic organizer with the word in the center and similar word clusters connected to it. In the left-hand column, there is a listing of what the different lines and clusters mean. Additionally, it is a dynamic representation of the word. You can choose to see "random" words or "enter" a word of your own. When you enter the word or choose a random word, a cluster map of the word generates. The main words is connected to other concepts via lines and bubbles. And, each bubble/line has a different meaning. The key code in the left-hand column illustrates what each bubble/line means. You can even drag the bubbles/lines in different directions to create new connections between the words. It shows more than just the definition of the word--it shows all connections to the words in a graphic representation.

vozMe is a simple text-to-speech converter. It can be installed on your browser so that when you highlight a portion of text, a voice translates it to you. You can choose to have a male or female voice deliver the text. You can also leave it as is and just type in your text into the box provided and have it convert it to speech for you. When you are done, you can elect to have an MP3 created for you. When you click on the "Create MP3" button, a new window opens with the speech translation. At the bottom of that window, you can "download" the MP3 and save it to your selected space. You have the option to add speech to your browser or Website. vozMe gives many different HTML codes and formats for adding a text-to-speech option for your Website or Blog. You can access the codes here. Or, you can download the browser plug-in. If you choose this option, you can hear any text on any Webpage you view.

Integration: Growing up in Texas and being a former English teacher, I am always on the lookout for great ESL/ELL and English resources. Both of these applications can benefit English Language Learners, special needs students, young students, and students needing a different learning approach. With vozMe, students are able to hear the words on the Webpage. Similarly, they can type in any words and hear them. This is great for students with speech impairments and students who are learning the language.

Likewise, Visuwords gives words a visual representation for students to build connections. Try out both applications! They can definitely expand language in the classroom and broaden student vocabulary. Students may even use Inspiration software to create a similar word map like what is shown in Visuwords.

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