Balabolka means ‘chatterer’ in Russian and it does exactly that on your computer. It’s a free, text-to-speech (TTS) piece of software which enables students to have electronic text read out to them.
Balabolka is one of the best free TTS on the market as it has many features usually reserved for the commercial ones.
It uses a bimodal form of reading which means the students use their eyes and ears; tracking while listening. I have found some tentative research to show this may enhance students’ reading skills rather than replace them. Whether this is true or not, it certainly allows anyone who cannot access text through decoding or visual impairment to read with their ears.
Other features are that you can change the background colour, the highlighting colour and even the skin. You can turn text into audio files so students can listen to text on their iPod/MP3 etc and you can change the speed and pitch of the computerised voice.
This can be loaded onto old laptops and with a set of headphones could be transformative for a student who cannot access the text based curriculum.
A few words of warning:
* if using as a proofreading tool remember that the changes you make to essays opened in Word will need to be copy and pasted back in to Word – Balabolka is the platform you open files into but it doesn’t work in Word
*ask someone IT savvy to download it – it’s very easy to get spyware/pop ups and random search bars
See CallScotland’s Blog – callscotland.org.uk/…