Using iOS accessibility features in the MFL classroom

IMG_1341The iPad is an amazing tool however, some of the native apps and features are often overlooked as we all head to the app store to download the latest must have app.

The iOS accessibility features are incredible and they are of course designed to enable those with disabilities the chance to enjoy all the fun and function of an iPad/iPhone.  As teachers and especially as linguists we can tap into some of these features and use them to increase independence and confidence with our foreign language learners.

Speech function.

The speech function, when enabled will read out selected text for the user.  Good news for linguists – it will do this in any number of languages!

Here’s a quick video showing you how to enable the speech function

NB. if students are listening to a text from a Google doc.  The document must be in edit mode for speak selection to work.  A doc is in edit mode when you tap the blue pencil in the bottom left hand corner of your screen!

Ideas for use of speech selection in class

  • Rather than using a keynote or power point presentation students can use speak selection to introduce them to new vocabulary
  • if students are unsure how to pronounce something speak selection can be used to help them. Great for if you, the teacher, is busy or if they are working at home.
  • Students can also slow the speech rate down in order to fully comprehend how a word or sentence is pronounced.  Be warned if they slow the rate down too much it can have a detrimental effect.
  • Students can listen to a text as it is read out to them. Great for improving the link between the written and the spoken word especially in languages like French with so many silent letters!


Another great iOS accessibility function is the speech to text function.

On the keyboard you will see a microphone symbol.  When you tap on this you can simply speak into your iPad and it will convert your speech to text.  If you want the iPad to type in French please ensure that the French keyboard is enabled.



Ideas for using speech to text in class

  • Great for practicing pronunciation.  Is the text on the screen showing what the student has said into the microphone? Students can then repeat the phrase until the iPad correctly types it. Try it yourself with a really anglicised French/Spanish/German accent and you’ll see what I mean!
  • Checking for mistakes.  An iPad is a computer and is no substitute for the human brain.  Once students have spoken the word or phrases get them to check the text over and correct it if required!

These are just a few ideas. Let me know if you think of any more.