The Use of Web-Based Text-to-Speech Tool in Improving English Pronunciation and Changing Perception of Error Correction among Young Learners
Keywords: text-to-speech, pronunciation, error correction, young learners
AbstractText-to-speech is a web-based tool that has the potential to improve English as a Second Language (ESL) learners’ spoken production. This research explored the role of that tool in helping reluctant speakers to improve their pronunciation. It also explored its role in changing their perception of error correction. The research was conducted in a Malaysian primary school in a small village. It was targeted at 9 children who had been identified as proficient writers but reluctant speakers. In the first cycle of the research, the text-to-speech tool was used as a method of instruction. It was used to assist them in pronouncing words correctly by producing conversation scripts and converting them into spoken output through a web-based text-to-speech tool (http://www.ivona.com). In the second cycle, the same activity was carried out but a more playful approach was applied. Throughout these two cycles, the respondents’ pronunciation and perception of error correction were observed and evaluated. The data in this research were gathered through audio recording, transcription, observation, interviews, and journal entries. The findings of this research reveal that the use of a web-based text-to-speech tool can improve children’s pronunciation because it enables them to use authentic and conversational language. Secondly, the use of this tool can improve children’s perception of error correction by means of a non-threatening, self-regulated learning environment. This research also reveals that the use of a web-based text-to-speech tool can be developed if it is combined with various strategies such as gamification, positive reinforcements, and cooperative learning.