Dragon Dictation


Dragon Dictation is a free app which students can download to practice their speaking and pronunciation skills.  It is a speech recognition application which is only available on the Apple iOS platform.

When I tried the transcription of my speech was 99% accurate.  The only error was the absence of the definite article before Apple iOS due to the fact that structural words, such as auxiliary verbs and prepositions, are often pronounced in their weak form and so often go unheard (by electronic devices and students themselves!).

Learners can practice reading short extracts and compare their recorded transcription with that of the written text that they have chosen.


Tsunesaburo Makiguchi

Educational Innovators


This quote from Tsunesaburo Makiguchi, a forward-thinking educational theorist from Japan, was one that particularly struck a chord.   By educating our learners on how to use the technology available to them we can help them become more autonomous learners.  I liked the idea of a key unlocking the vault of knowledge.  Often when I find a really good website it does feel like a very valuable treasure trove has been unearthed, and when you find something like that, it is best sharing it with friends, colleagues and students.

‘The aim of education is not to transfer knowledge; it is to guide the learning process, to equip the learner with the methods of research. It is not the piecemeal merchandizing of information; it is to enable the acquisition of the methods for learning on one’s own; it is the provision of keys to unlock the vault of knowledge. Rather than encouraging students to appropriate the intellectual treasures uncovered by others, we should enable them to undertake on their own the process of discovery and invention.’

Voice Thread

I’ve been experimenting with VoiceThread to offer students the opportunity to develop their speaking ability from home.  I previously used Vocaroo to get students to record themselves speaking for 1 to 2 minutes.  Vocaroo is also useful and more suited to simple voice recordings.

VoiceThread however offers the option of supporting multimedia with pictures and videos.  Students can upload a picture then record themselves speaking about it.

Once shared, on a forum or blog space, other students can then leave their own comments in response to the original speaker’s recording.  It is a good way of generating discussions, finding out about your students and getting them to speak English outside of class.

I have made a short tutorial showing you how to make a VoiceThread:

I’d like to get my adult students to share their VoiceThread on our wikispaces page.  It is also a great idea for IELTS preparation courses.

Here’s one I prepared:


If you try it out, do let me know how you get on!


Vocaroo is a great voice recording service which I often use with my students.  They can use it to prepare for in-class presentations or send me their final spoken presentations from home.  It can also contribute towards any speaking assessment grades which many schools often require term by term.

Students are set the task of sending their recordings via email, or if they aren’t too shy they can post it to the class wiki for other students to hear.

Here’s a video explaining how to use Vocaroo:

It is much easier to give back feedback on a short recording than trying to listen to one student in a class of 16!  I set a time limit on the recordings to make sure that students don’t get carried away and send super long recordings!  I generally don’t assess anything over this time limit.

It is ideal for exam preparation topics such as Cambridge First or IELTS Speaking Test part 2.