The app Dragon Dictation is an interesting app for students to practice their pronunciation. I give student a script to read from and they record themselves to see how well the computer can understand their accent. First, make sure you change the settings to Español (Américas) or Español (Europa) otherwise you will get some very funny sentences in English when the students are speaking in Spanish.
I could suggest the students record small chunks at a time, otherwise the app sometimes doesn’t process large chunks and students will have to re-record. Students will also have to tell the app when to place in punctuation so typing this into the script may be helpful for students. Clicking the info button on the button of the app will open up a “Tips” screen which includes common commands such as “punto”, “nueva línea”, “nuevo párrafo”, “coma” and more.
Obviously, the clearer their pronunciation is the more likely the app is to recognize the speech correctly. However, with a classroom full of students, it is difficult if there is a lot of background noise. Make sure students are spread out as far apart as possible or use the hallway if possible.
Of course, it may still have a hard time understanding a beginners accent and pronunciation as my first year students had quite difficulty with getting the app to type the correct words, while it work almost perfectly for me.
The funniest thing happened when using this in class for the first time. One particular student was having a lot of difficulty getting the app to recognize any of his speech correctly. Numerous attempts of trying to save the same phrase over and over again, with the app coming up with a new interpretation each time. As I was standing over him to see his how his latest attempt turned, the dictation that popped up on the screen made me believe that maybe the app had its own personality and maybe this device was truly a “smart” device. What showed up was nowhere close to what the student had said, which is what makes it even more amusing. The text: