Archive for September, 2010
Speech synthesis is a technique to deliver a written text by computerized voice. This technique is used particularly by and for the visually impaired, in industry (think of automated interactive messaging, for example) as well as in the multimedia field.
In our opinion, speech synthesis is also of considerable interest in a second or a foreign language learning. It makes it indeed possible to hear the exact pronunciation of a word or a text chosen by the learner himself. Therefore, we have selected three websites that let you type a word or a short text to hear its correct French pronunciation.
Acapela-group.com : You will find on this website a multilingual demo to convert written words and sentences into spoken speech. Simply enter a text up to a maximum of 200 characters, including spaces, and then choose a male or female voice, French or Canadian to listen to an audio rendition of this text.
Wizzard Software.com : This site also offers a speech synthesis multilingual demo to convert written text into a high-quality audio reading. Enter a text of your choice up to a maximum of 255 characters, choose a male or female voice with a French or a Canadian accent and listen to the reading. http://wizzardsoftware.com/att_NV_demo.php
Oddcast.com : This last site offers a Text-to-Speech multilingual demo allowing to hear what you write. Enter a word or a short text up to 150 characters, then choose a male or female voice, French or Canadian and see an avatar read it without an accent. It is even possible for you to create your own avatar on the site!
Three Virtual French Keyboards to Learn to Write With Accents
To write correctly in French, you necessarily have to use accent marks. Basically, the accents – acute accent (´), grave accent (`), circumflex accent (ˆ) – the umlaut (¨) and the cedilla (ç) – play two roles in French: they change the pronunciation of the letter they mark and indicate a difference between words which would otherwise be identical, for example: pêcheur (one that fishes) and pécheur (one who commits a sin).
This week we offer you three links to virtual keyboards that allow you to write correctly in French.
Les-Claviers.com: Here is a site that offers virtual keyboards for many languages, allowing access to special characters, accents, and symbols specific to each. You’ll find also on this page a currency symbols keyboard, a mathematics keyboard, and a typographical keyboard including signs such as the ampersand (&) and the at symbol (@). Useful! http://www.les-claviers.com/
Gate2home.com : The French keyboard which is on this site is an excellent emulator that will allow you to type in French from anywhere in the world. This site also contains tabs to write and send an email directly in French, to search the French versions of Google and Wikipedia, as well as to access the multilingual translator Babylon. http://www.gate2home.com/?language=fr&lay=4&sec=2
Incks.com : This site offers virtual keyboards in multiple languages and several different alphabets. The French virtual keyboard has typographical signs such as currencies, mathematical operations and exponents. The site also allows the registration of a document as a text file and viewing, editing and printing your text. http://www.incks.com/en/french.html
Idiomatic expressions are sometimes difficult to understand for a learner of a second language but they are always interesting and often entertaining. Here are three sites that will allow you to become familiar with many of them.
LanguageRealm.com is a multilingual website that offers free translation resources. The page we suggest is about French expressions. They are classified by alphabetical order and the English translation is shown under each one. http://www.languagerealm.com/french/frenchidioms.php
Les-expressions.com offers a dictionary of French expressions including their meaning and origin. You can enter a specific expression in the research box to get information about it or to pick among the meanings or origins available to get all the expressions relating to a chosen theme. The site is in French only. http://www.les-expressions.com/
Finally, we offer you a quiz from FunTrivia.com in which you’ll have to find the French equivalent to some English idiomatic expressions. For an example, did you know that « to take French leave » is translated into French as… filer à l’anglaise (to run away the English way) ? The answer key includes some details about the expressions and the translation of some their words. http://www.funtrivia.com/playquiz/quiz159841124e280.html
Vocabulary and sentences related to school will never be more useful than at the start of the new school year, especially when they come with audio files allowing you to understand, repeat and in the end to pronounce so that everybody can understand you.
The first site presents a list of basic school vocabulary. This list is divided into four different sections : school subjects, school life, the school (and its staff), and finally the supplies. At the bottom of the page, a link will take you to a list of sentences designed to allow you to talk about the subjects you study.http://www.smartphrase.com/French/fr_school_voc.shtml
On this site you’ll find about thirty illustrations of the standard school supplies. You can listen to the pronunciation of every one of the items shown by gliding the mouse pointer on them. Each word comes with the right article (feminine, masculine or plural). http://www.languageguide.org/french/vocabulary/school/
This page presents a list of very useful phrases for the classroom. They will allow you to ask questions of the teacher, to ask permissions and to express your needs, in brief, to use as much French as possible in the classroom. All you have to do is to click on the underlined words to listen to their correct pronunciation and to repeat them as much as necessary. http://french.about.com/od/vocabulary/a/classroomphrase.htm