This free AI text-to-speech tool is a real game-changer!
Until a few weeks ago, whenever my students asked me about using text-to-speech (TTS) apps to help them improve their pronunciation, I told them, in no uncertain terms, that it was not a good idea.
That was until a few weeks ago. That was before Artificial Intelligence revolutionized our world. Have you read my previous article about the jaw-dropping Chat GPT? Have you already tried it?
As I said above, that was until a few weeks ago. But Ohhh ! I have changed my mind! I am not kidding!!! This free AI text-to-speech tool is a real game-changer! And it is really going to help students struggling with pronunciation. So if you, like me, have always been put off by text-to-speech apps because of their robotic-sounding voices, you’re going to be blown away by this software. It’s hands-down the best I’ve ever used. Full disclosure: I’m not sponsored by this text-to-speech software (although I wish I were – it’s that good!).
Just listen here
How to get started!
- People at Eleven Labs are so confident about their product, that you can try it before even signing in. Wanna try it? Go to ElevenLabs. To generate speech, copy/paste or type a small text (up to 333 characters), choose a pre-made voice, hit generate and listen. Impressive, isn’t it? You can even download it!
- But…. more is coming!!!! It is free, well, Freemium. If you decide to sign up for free, you have a quota of 10,000 characters/month, although you need to know that the maximum number of characters you can generate in a single request on the platform using the free plan is 2,500.
- More? Yes! You can also adjust the Settings for Stability and Similarity to make the voice more expressive, varied or clear. I would suggest that you play with the Settings to find the voice you are looking for.
Important:It is still in beta and each generation, with any adjustment, will lead to quota being deducted from your account.
I have also applied for a free Education account, and I am waiting to hear back from them.
One might think that after 31 years teaching, I wouldn’t need to spend time preparing for classes. After accumulating so much content over the years, it would seem logical to just retrieve what I need from my files. However, for some reason, that’s not how it works for me. As a result, I find myself once again in the process of creating content, this time on the subject of travelling.
This post revolves around the topic of Travelling and Tourism and considering what I have written above, I have come up with this brilliant 🙄 idea. Use a board from Canva and replace specific questions with numbers, making it applicable to any topic. Alongside this, we can create cards that include the relevant questions and reference their corresponding numbers. What do you think?
Hold on, Cristina! Did you read the title of the post? It says “Two decks of cards”. So, we have one deck for questions, but what about the other one? I haven’t forgotten! The other deck contains useful phrases to help students express themselves more effectively. 😆
What do we need?
- Print the board multiple times. Print as many copies as groups of students. What works best for me is groups of 3 students. Get the PDF here
board game Template de cristina.cabal
- Cards with the conversation questions. One deck per group. PDF here
travelling conversation cards de cristina.cabal
- Reusable cards with useful phrases. One deck per group. PDF here.
Ready to play?
Create groups of 3–4 students and give each group a board game, the two decks of cards, counters and a die. Students decide who starts the game. Student A throws the die and places his/her counter on the corresponding square, which contains a number. On the deck of cards with the conversation questions, he/she finds the card that matches the number of his/her square, reads it aloud and then takes a card from the Useful Language deck. These cards are placed face down on the table. The student will need to talk for at least two minutes, trying to use the expression on the card. Then, it is student B’s turn.
- Original board designed by @mrkucukyilmaz
- Useful phrases from intercambiodeidiomas
February favourite activity! I know! The month has barely started, but I already know this is going to be my favourite activity.
The truth is I’ve been meaning to write about this activity for a long time, and it has been sitting on my shelves for so long that I cannot give credit to one single person ’cause I don’t really know who first came up with this brilliant idea. Not me. This time, I am just the vessel.
So, this activity revolves around books and the question I am asking you is: Do your students need to write a book review? Do you, or do they, choose the books they have to read? In my case, I have always hated being forced to read books I didn’t like so ever since I turned into a seasoned oldish teacher and could make my own choices, I decided to give students the choice I had never had as a student. Something as simple as choosing the books you’d like to read. From the school library. Sure.
- Book the library room. That’s the best place for an activity revolving about books.
- I carefully selected books and divided them into three categories: Fiction, Short Stories, and Classics. I chose a varied and attractive collection from each category.
- I bought a pack of red and white chekered plastic tablecloths. I bought them here. (Note: it is not sponsored 🙂
- I also brought some silver paper trays I had at home to place the books. Remember, this activity is called Book Tasting, so you want all the props.
- In Canva, I designed:
– a place mat (I photocopied it in red to match the tablecloth). Download Here
-a menu (brochure) with all the instructions and space to write their options from each table. Download Here
How to go about it
- Arrange the tables as seen in the picture above. Place the tray with the books in the middle ( to be honest, you don’t need a tray but it adds a little touch)
- There are X tables with books from different genres. In my case, as explained above, I had 3 tables with fiction, short stories and classics.
- Ask students to form groups and choose a table to start.
- Ask them to choose one of the books on your table. ( there should a number of them)
- Tell them they have 10 minutes to read the blurb, or synopsis, normally found at the back of a book’s cover. They should also read a page and assess the readability of the vocabulary used.
- Ask them to present the book they have chosen to their group and explain why they think it would be a good or a bad choice.
- After listening to all the presentations in their group, they have to choose the book(s) they’d like to read from this table and write their option(s) in the space provided.
- Ask them to move to another table and repeat procedure.
- Tell them to list their top three book choices in order of preference after having visited all the tables.
- It is now time to take the book they have selected. Ask them to start with their first choice, and if it is unavailable, move on to their second option.
Follow up: if you are feeling up to it and know how to work with Flip, set up a Topic asking students to record their reviews of the books they have chosen. Download the QR Code generated by Flip and attach it to the back of the book. Now it’s time to move on to another round of reading. Encourage students to choose another book and listen to recommendations from their classmates.
A digital or analogue board game? Which do you fancy? For me, variety is key. So I tend to alternate between both types of exercises to keep things interesting. In this post, you will find both versions. Cheers to diversity! But just so that you know, I am going to focus more on the analogue version where I can use props.
Who doesn’t love props? Using props in the classroom can be an effective tool for teaching. Props can help to engage students and bring an element of fun and creativity to a lesson. And right in the middle of winter ,when days are short and dark, I feel the need to add some extra spark to my lessons. Don’t you?
Board games have been around for a long, long time but, have you tried to design one? It is not easy. I have tried and failed. They looked awful. This time I have not wasted any time, and used Genial.ly’s Monopoly board game, which I have adapted to suit my content.
First, I made an online version (reusable in case you want to change something), which turned out great, but I decided to go old–school and print out the board, get a huge foam dice, and use some coloured counters. Not surprisingly, rolling a big red foam dice and having students use little markers to claim their spots really made a difference.
Here’s the downloadable version if I have managed to persuade you to use the printed version of the board game.
TEACHER-GUIDED: HOW TO PLAY
- Arrange students into groups of 3–4 students and give each group a board.
- Each player in the group must choose a colour: blue, green, yellow, or red. They will then receive a token to mark their position and 10 coloured counters (preferably, the same colour as their token) to indicate the questions they have answered correctly throughout the game.
- Each player should take their token and place it on the starting square. Write down the starting order of the students on the board, like this: blue first, then green, then yellow, and lastly red. To start playing, the teacher rolls the huge die and Blues move their token to the corresponding square.
- If Blues can talk about the question non-stop for 2 minutes, they earn the right to place one of their blue counters on that square. That square is now officially theirs!
- If another player lands on a square that is already occupied by a coloured counter, they will have to answer the question, but they will not claim the square.
- Special squares: squares with icons contain penalties, such as “The player pays light taxes: loses 2 of his coloured counters.” (you can read the penalties in the digital version)
- The player with the most coloured counters on the board, once all squares are occupied, will win the game.
I hope you enjoy the game!