Dictutorial Help

Introduction

Dictutorial is a dictating tutor application, designed to improve your ability to read, speak and type native and foreign language texts. Here are a few skills it will help you to develop:

Adding Source Material

You can add text or html files as source material for reading and reciting. There are two ways to do this:

Once you have selected the file, its contents will appear in the book container. You will notice a Clear button appears above the container to the right of the file name. Press this to empty the container, ready to import a different file.

Recommended Book Sources

The excellent, long-standing Project Gutenberg web site has just about every book in the public domain, available in html and text formats which you can download and import into Dictutorial. Here are a few links that you can right-click to download texts for bilingual use:

Note: You may want to edit the downloaded text to strip out the start and end matter. Also, you may need to edit texts when using them bilingually, so that their sentences stay synched during reading.

Options Panel

In the top-left of the window, you will see the Options button. To display the options panel, either:

The panel closes when you move the mouse pointer beyond the panel borders or tap anywhere outside the panel.

The panel presents the following controls.

Voice 1, 2

Select the voice you want used for book 1 and, for bilingual tasks, book 2. Normally you would want to make this appropriate to the language of the text, unless you wish to train your ear to better understand your native language in foreign accents.

Mode

Select dictation if you want to be tested on your ability to type the words you hear, or reading if you just want to listen to or follow the text as it is read out aloud.

Highlight

Determines whether the section of text currently being read is highlighted in the book container.

Require accents

This option is only available in dictation mode. It determines whether properly accented characters, such as é (e-acute) must be entered for your input to be marked as correct. If you leave this check box clear, then you can enter unaccented or accented characters as you wish, so that the letter e is treated the same as e-grave or e-acute.

Hide text

This option is only available in dictation mode. It determines whether the source text is visible before you enter the words you hear. Keeping it ticked enables you to refer to the text if you have trouble understanding what's being said.

Advance by

These options specify the blocks by which text advances as it is spoken: by word, by phrase or by sentence. Selecting bilingual creates a second book container into which you can import a translation of the text shown in the first container. Bilingual texts always advance by sentence, alternating between the two books.

Taking a dictation test

A dictation exercise involves your listening to spoken text and accurately typing the words you hear. The skill of taking dictation, transcribing spoken text, is an important language skill, demonstrating not only the ability to identify and spell the words in speech, but also to remember large chunks of text for as long as it takes to convert them to written text.

To prepare a dictation test, proceed as follows.

  1. Open the Options panel as described in the Changing Options section above.
  2. Select the Dictation mode option.
  3. If you are taking dictation in a language that uses accents, but you don't want to have to enter these accents, then leave the Require accents check box clear. Otherwise, tick it and you will be required to enter characters accurately, using any method available on your device. For example, in Windows you can hold down the Alt key whilst entering the code for the character.
  4. To begin with, you may want to leave the Hide text check box clear, so that you can refer to the text if you get stuck. As you become more proficient, or if you find it distracting to have the text displayed, you can tick the check box. Then, text only appears in the book container when you have correctly typed it.
  5. For details on other options available during dictation, see General Use below.

To start the test:

  1. Press the Start button beneath the book container(s).
  2. Listen to the text as it is spoken, and start typing what you hear in the input box situated above the Start button. You don't have to capitalise letters or include punctuation. If necessary, you can make the input box larger by pressing and dragging its bottom-right corner.
  3. If you make a mistake, the text turns red and you are prevented from entering any more characters until you correct the mistake. If your second attempt is also incorrect, the word is repeated. On the third incorrect attempt, the word is spelt out.

Reading/Following Spoken Text

To read and follow spoken text, do the following:

  1. Open the Options panel as described in the Changing Options section above.
  2. Select the Reading mode option.
  3. By default, the block of text currently being read is highlighted in the book container. If you don't want this, clear the Highlight check box.

  4. For further details on options during reading, see General Use below.
  5. Press the Start button to begin the reading.

General Use

Pausing

To pause speaking, press the Pause button. The button changes to a Resume button, which you can press to restart the speaking. During a pause, you cannot access the text input box during a dictation exercise. However, you can change the start position, so speaking will resume from the new position.

Repeating

To hear the last unit of text again, press the Repeat button. If the text is currently being spoken, it is interrupted and restarted from the beginning.

Changing the Start Position

To change the start position for reading or dictation, click on the place in the text, scrolling if necessary. To start from this position with a newly-opened book, press the Start button. To start after pressing the Pause button, press the Resumebutton; pressing the Start button will cause it to start from the beginning of the text, not the clicked position. You can also change the position whilst text is being spoken: speaking will continue immediately from the clicked position. This is particularly useful with bilingual texts whose sentences don't always tally.

Changing How Text Advances

Select the appropriate Speak option for how you want the text to advance: by word, by phrase, or by sentence. Or if you want dictation that alternates between a text and its translation, select the Bilingual option.

Changing Voices

From the Voice drop down lists, choose the voice you want used for the book, and if this is a Bilingual test, for the second book. You can change a voice whilst the application is speaking, but it won't take effect until the current block has been read out.

Support

If you have any questions, criticisms or praise, then please send an e-mail to

Copyright Notice

All contents of the Dictutorial application are Copyright © 2015 Julian Wood, All Rights Reserved.

Disclaimer of Warranty and Liability

Use of Dictutorial indicates acceptance of the following, in which the Software refers to Dictutorial.

No Warranties

The author of the Software expressly disclaims any warranty for the Software. The Software and any related documentation is provided "as is" without warranty of any kind, either express or implied, including, without limitation, the implied warranties or merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, or non-infringement. The entire risk arising out of use or performance of the Software remains with you.

No Liability for Damages

In no event shall the author of the Software be liable for any damages whatsoever arising out of the use of or inability to use this product, even if the author of the Software has been advised of the possibility of such damages.