Friday, 21 September 2012

Read to me in Spanish, my Android friend.

If you've been reading this blog for a while, you'll know that I started learning to speak Spanish with audio lessons, in my car, after my workplace shifted some 35 miles further up the M1.

I still listen to Spanish every day in the car, only now it's podcasts, Spanish music, recordings of me reading lists of verbs and clauses which generate the subjunctive (honest!), audio tracks ripped from YouTube videos which I have to study for homework and, most recently, recordings of my lessons in Secondlife, with Ximena.
Well, now I have something else to listen to.
Step forward, Talkadroid.

If you have an Android phone, or other device, you may have experimented with the TTS (text to speech) settings.
Well, as Spanish is a strictly phonetic language, it lends itself perfectly to TTS, and Talkadroid is an application which acts as a front end for the TTS and allows you to
  • Type a word in and have it read out loud (nothing exciting so far)
  • Have it read in a number of different 'languages' - the language packs you can install determine how the TTS deals with the pronunciation of each combination of letters
  • Speak and have your speech typed on screen
  • Speak or type in a word or phrase, have it appear on screen, then have it translated to your chosen language, typed on screen and read out loud, in that language!
  • Open a webpage in your browser, 'share' it with Talkadroid, which will then read it to you.
It's the last feature that I've found most useful, as it means I can 'read' webpages which I need to study for homework, while I'm driving, without taking my eyes off the road.
Talkadroid also allows you to vary the speed of the reading, to make it easier to follow.

The Talkadroid App is available from Google play for a very reasonable 99p.
There's also a free 'Lite' version, but I didn't bother trying it out.

To get the best out of the App, I also recommend installing SVox Classic TTS.
SVox is a Swiss company which specialises in language packs for such devices as SatNavs, and Spanish is only one of over 30 language packs available (actually more than one, as there's a choice of European or Mexican pronunciation)
The Android App is free, but you then need to buy your chosen language pack (although there is a free trial available) I'm currently trialling Mexican Angelica (so to speak) but will definitely be handing over the princely sum of £1.99 when the trail period is up.
You can buy the App here and there's a short video too, showing what the App can do.

I hope you find it as useful as I have.