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Page history last edited by weav7593@bears.unco.edu 7 years, 7 months ago



by Megan Weaver 


Wait...like this a capella?




Video: "Somebody I Used to Know" performed by Pentatonix, written by Gotye, featuring Kimbra

That was the a capella you used to know. (Although it is still great, so don't completely put a capella singing on the bench.)



Acapela is text-to-speech software that offers a wide variety of uses and opportunities in a classroom setting.  Acapela has been used significantly in world language classrooms in order to help students hear correct pronunciations and accents in the language.  In an English classroom, acapela presents many different opportunities for furthering student understanding of voice, style, dialect, and help with revision and editing.  Acapela allows teachers and students to use different languages, accents, and male and female speakers. (Ex.: Micah (US) sounds like a southern gentleman.)


Navigating Acapela’s many different options:


The Demo: The demo option allows for a simple text-to-speech interaction. Find the link below and some simple steps for using the text-to-speech functions.




1. Write out (have students write out) what you would like to hear either on paper, in a word document.

2. Type or paste your written words into the box under “TYPE YOUR TEXT HERE.” (much like an online language translator)

3. Choose your language/voice. (Think about factors such as male/female, age, accents, mood, etc..)

4. Once you’ve finished including your own text and have chosen your voice  click “SAY IT”  at the bottom of the box with the “play” button triangle next to it.

5. Listen to your text as spoken by the voice in the software, and see what you think about it. 



Acapela Box:




Acapela Box provides many of the same functions as the Acapela Demo but with a couple more seeting options such as “Speech Rate” where you can change the speed or tempo of the voice and “Voice Shaping” which changes the tone of the voice between low and high. To use these applications click “SHOW ADVANCED SETTINGS” and use the scroll bars on each voice manipulator (Rate or Shaping) to change the sound of the voice. Follow the same protocol for inserting your own text, choosing your voice, and playing the sound as with the demo. This function also allows users to download the speech in a mp3 format. 



Acapela TV/The Queen’s Speech:





These applications are similar to both Acapela Box and the demo in the format the text and speech are translated.  TV includes a video of the queen of Great Britain or other characters with your own text as their lines.  Some of these can be shared on Twitter, Facebook, or as e-cards through email. 


Languages and Voices Portfolio:




Lists the available languages and voices people can use in Acapela. 


What about in the English Classroom?

Here are some examples of how Acapela could be used in the English classroom. Colorado Department of Education English Language standards are listed first with the context of part of a writing unit where Acapela could be used. 


CDE Standards Addressed:

Grade 10: English


1. Literary or narrative genres feature a variety of stylistic devices to engage or entertain an audience

b.         Write literary and narrative texts using a range of stylistic devices (poetic techniques, figurative language, imagery, graphic elements) to support the presentation of implicit or explicit theme

c.         Use a variety of strategies to evaluate whether the writing is presented in a creative and reflective manner (e.g., reading the draft aloud, seeking feedback from a reviewer, scoring guides)

d.         Revise texts using feedback to enhance the effect on the reader and clarify the presentation of implicit or explicit theme

Lesson Rundown: (original content—classroom integration/application example)

Students have been required to write their own papers and poems and have solid drafts ready for revision. The paper is an argumentative essay about the topic they have been researching throughout the semester (topic must be approved by me, have some sort of fan base, and they must write about why it is important or if anything should be changed), and the poem is also based off of their research, but they are required to create and compare between formal and more emotional texts and structures. Acapela will be used to aid in student revision of their papers and poems.  The final part of this project would have students present their topic to the class, and they may choose between reading their poem or portions of their paper as well as providing visuals and a defense of why I and their classmates should care. Acapela will be used specifically to point out students’ grammatical errors in the paper as well as identifying fluency and use of sentence variety.  Students will also use Acapela to listen to their poems and reflect on how they would like the emotion of their poem portrayed to audiences. 


Other Possibilities in an English Classroom: 

  • Hearing differences between formal and informal language and speech. Drawing students' attention to phrases such as "like" and "you know" in their texts.
  • When using translated texts, especially poems (such as French or Spanish originals) to listen for changes in meaning, rhythm, and sound.  Try using Pablo Neruda poems in both English and the original Spanish language to hear what is lost in translation.
  • Practicing for interviews. (Have your students write the interview questions into the "YOUR TEXT HERE" box and answer them verbally.)
  •  Practicing speeches, allow students to hear their speech from another voice and decide what they can include in their own voice and what they are doing well already.
  • Listening for dialect in literature such as The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn or Toni Morrison's work and others. 
  • Editing papers and other writing. Sometimes it's easier to find the errors in our writing if it is heard out loud. Acapela allows students to listen to their writing while editing portions that may need edited. 
  • Analysis of the effect of inflection/emotion of voice in literature, poetry, plays, music, etc.. Comparing and contrasting the effect and emotion Acapela creates with the text (or lack of emotion) and the effect and emotion live human voices create for texts.   

Other Possibilities in Other Classrooms: 

·        In any class, the mp3 option in the Acapela Box allows students/teachers to add audio to presentations (as does the ‘talking widget’ function)

·        Economics Classroom: Discussion of ATM audio automation tools

·        Audio books/Audio publishing (spoken word, comedy in a theatre/speech classroom)

·        World Languages: Pronunciation and accent improvement, oral language exercises


JUST A HEADS UP: Some ads may appear on the sidebars of Acapela’s website that may be distracting for some students (thus is the case with anything on the internet).  Be aware of these possible distractions for students. The main demo and Acapela Box seemed to be the friendliest in terms of distractions from the tasks at hand.


Other Resources:

  • ·  The acapela home page: (learn more about the vision behind Acapela and navigate to the different softwares and applications it offers.)       


  • · A blog about how someone will use Acapela TV in their classroom for a lesson on vocabulary.        


  • · This link will take you to Acapela's steps for using their software on your own website via the use of a 'talking widget.'        


  • · This is part of Acapela's site that allows users to include speech in their own applications for the services they may provide.        


  • · This is a fun link to Acapela's "Kirigami Band" function which allows the text-to-speech to be translated with music in the background.        


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