Speech-to-text: Helping learners grow as writers
Writing is an essential skill for work and life. It helps us think critically, express ourselves and engage in our communities. However, it is common for students to find the task of writing laborious and challenging because of the many complex skills it requires such as analytical thinking, grammar, spelling, and comprehension.
Studies suggest difficulties with handwriting, spelling, or capitalization can get in the way of the learners’ quality and fluency in generating and writing their ideas, but it doesn’t have to. One way of helping young writers overcome these challenges is through using speech to text software.
Speech to text or voice to text software is a speech recognition assistive technology tool that transcribes a person’s speech or auditory signals to digital text. It can help struggling writers, as well as others with special educational needs and different abilities, by providing an alternative way for them to dictate, edit, and review their writing. In this digital age, anyone with a smartphone, laptop, tablet, and internet has access to it. Speech recognition software can be used as a beneficial tool for improving learners’ writing in the classroom or at home.
Why consider speech to text?
We often think faster than we can write; more so in the younger years, which is why holding all the ideas in their working memory, as they write, can be limiting. Using speech to text software can help learners write more productively without the pressure of having to keep up with their thoughts. This helps them save time and energy. Otherwise, they may forget the sentences they want to put down on paper or struggle with developing their ideas.
Watching the words come on the screen as they use their voice can be exciting and liberating for most students who have difficulty writing their thoughts down. Hence, using this assistive learning tool can help boost their motivation for writing. It does not take too long for the students to learn how to use this technology. In the process, they can gain more confidence as they are able to accomplish more and produce better work compared to when they are writing with a pencil or pen.
Learners can be more at ease and focus on the content of their writing since it lifts off the burden of the need to have automaticity and proficiency in spelling and other component skills in writing. Grammar, organization of ideas, as well as the structure of sentences and paragraphs can be dealt with after getting all their ideas down.
Besides improving self -efficacy and decreasing anxiety associated with writing, using speech recognition software can also encourage independence amongst young learners, especially those with developing motor skills or learning difficulties. They would not need to depend on an adult to transcribe their ideas. If the voice recognition program also includes text to speech features, the students can listen to their text being read aloud and edit their work themselves.
Speech recognition software has been found in studies to help kids with learning difficulties improve their core skills in reading and writing. When they dictate and see the words appear on the screen, they can make connections and gain understanding into essential aspects of phonemic awareness such as sound-symbol association.
Another advantage is the error correction process in using speech recognition software. Since no SRS system is perfect, users would still need to double check the accuracy of the words and choose the correct word from a list of comparable words when an error is found. Comparing, analyzing, and distinguishing the words that sound alike can also help students improve their reading and spelling skills.
Though the accuracy of voice recognition software has improved dramatically in recent years, it is also important to provide learners with explicit instruction in reading, phonological awareness, writing, and organizational strategies. Before fully incorporating speech to text technology in class writing activities, learners need time to learn how to use the features of the software in order to truly reap the benefits of this tool.
Three useful tips for using speech-to-text
1. Dictate in complete phrases or sentences, pausing in between phrases and not words.
Modern speech recognition software has algorithms that factor in the context of a group of words which makes it more accurate in recognizing more of the words that are part of a complete thought. Pausing in between phrases and not words would aid the software in detecting the sentence structure to produce a more precise transcription.
2. Maintain a consistent tone, speed, and volume.
Pronouncing words plainly and clearly with less inflections helps the software recognize words better. Keeping a steady pace and volume also helps with the ease of the speech to text writing process.
3. Watch the screen but try not to stop to correct mistakes.
Take note of errors or omissions while watching the software transcribe phrases but try not to pause to correct mistakes while dictating. It is important to talk at almost the same speed as the words come into your mind. When you notice a mistake, you can dictate the correct word again or work around it by paraphrasing the sentence or by saying “or rather” preceded by the correction. Keeping a steady flow of ideas leads to a more productive thought process as mistakes can be corrected when the draft is done.
The use of speech to text software as an assistive learning tool can help with the development of young writers. It’s about encouraging expression, communicating ideas through writing, and minimizing roadblocks in the way of effective written expression. When used in conjunction with other teaching strategies to improve writing, it can help learners become better writers as they continue to practice and develop their skills over time.
Northern Lights Academy Team