Speech-To-Text Tools for Kids

Speech-to-text is a magical gift for any student who struggles to write. Some might struggle with dysgraphia, dyslexia, or another learning and thinking differences that impacts writing. Some kids know exactly what they want to say, but it takes forever to translate their thoughts into written words; others think much faster than they write, resulting in skipped words and missing punctuation marks. And for all of these kids, the challenge of getting words on the page can make their final written drafts impossible to understand, even for them. That’s where the magic of speech-to-text comes in. When students can speak their writing, instead of actually writing it, the writing process becomes easier and much less frustrating.

How Speech-to-text helps kids write

  • They can see the correct spelling of words they wouldn’t have known how to spell. This encourages students to use more advanced vocabulary than they normally would if they were handwriting/typing.

  • It enables students who can’t write as fast as they think to get all their thoughts onto paper quickly.

  • Dictating helps students understand and practice story structure as they hear themselves speak sentences out loud.

  • Students can invest more mental energy into organization and content, instead of forming letters or finding keys.

  • It supports improved diction and speaking habits.

Will speech-to-text prevent my child from learning how to write?

No. Just like all assistive technology, there is a misconception that using text-to-speech to write is somehow harmful to a child’s academic development. This is only true if and when the specific goal of an assignment is to practice letter formation, spelling, or typing skills. But when a student is tasked with crafting a story, response, or other piece of writing, why not give them the tools that will let them be most successful at that task? Save the pencil and paper for when they are specifically practicing letter formation. and save the typing for when they are practicing keyboarding or spelling. For all other times, let them use dictation! They might actually start to enjoy writing.

Best speech-to-text resources

  • Built-in dictation technology: Today, most devices have built-in dictation tools. Any iPhone or iPad features the microphone icon on any screen with a keyboard. Chromebooks also feature easily accessible built-in dictation resources. Plus, you can access dictation through Google Docs on any device as well.

  • Chrome tools: A number of tools for Chromebooks and the Chrome browser also offer dictation, like Co:Writer Universal, WordQ and Read&Write for Google Chrome.

  • Dictation software programs: The arguable leader in dictation technology is Dragon. They’ve been developing dictation software for decades, and offer powerful tools for any user, but perhaps more than what most students need.

Tips for successful dictation

  1. Speak clearly and if possible, speak words with natural phrasing, as opposed to one word at a time. A computer will type out exactly what it sounds like the student is saying. So, if words are not spoken clearly, the student might face a lot of frustration when they go back and re-read.

  2. Say the names of punctuation marks. This takes many students a long time to get used to! We don’t speak the names of punctuation marks as we read, so speaking them as we dictate feels very unnatural. But it’s easier than going back in afterwards and adding all of the needed punctuation once the writing is on the page.

  3. Use dictation to write a first draft, then edit and revise with keyboard and mouse. It can be difficult to get a computer to follow verbal commands once a draft is written. Therefore, it’s often easiest to stick to the old-fashioned method of editing and revising by reading text over and making edits manually.

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