Read&Write10 GOLD is a fabulous piece of assistive software from Texthelp Systems designed to support users with their reading, writing and research skills. It is suitable for use at primary level right through to the workplace and it boasts a lot of impressive features.
When you download the software you get a floating toolbar providing all the speech and spelling tools you need to read, compose and proof read written material. It’s not obvious at first how good the help on offer really is, partly because the toolbar is so self-effacing. However, delve into the icon-rich toolbar a little deeper and you will tap into a wealth of features, expertise and development. It drips with intelligence and is ideal for a range of learners.
One of the central support features is text-tospeech, which can be used to read out text from any document, email or web page – or as you type. This is significant for children as having their work read out loud helps them to identify any errors in punctuation, spelling and meaning. There is a choice of thirty different male and female digital voices and these can be adjusted by altering the pitch, speed, and volume. The voices on offer cover different languages too and the authenticity is pretty good. It would be great if children’s voices could be included as well. Pupils would like that.
Also at your disposal is an advanced phonetic spell checker. This can analyse and correct a range of spelling mistakes as you work, or check for errors after you have completed your writing. I like the Sounds-like/Homophone Checker. This highlights homophones in the passage of text being written and then offers solutions that can be read aloud. This is ideal for differentiating between words that sound the same like ‘there’, ‘they’re’, and ‘their’. Excellent.
There is a very handy Vocabulary Tool that can be used to highlight words in Microsoft Word and in Internet Explorer/Firefox. These words can then be inserted into a new document with the dictionary definitions and picture dictionary definitions. That’s impressive and will undoubtedly grant learners considerable independence. It will almost certainly free up some of your time as a teacher. The Verb Checker feature will also prove useful. This is where you can look up a verb and check its past, present or future conjugation. These can be read by the software as well to check whether you are using the right one.
As many children find reading text particularly difficult when certain colours are used, Read&Write 10 GOLD has a Screen Masking option that can be used to apply screen tinting. For me, this is one of the best features available. It means you can highlight pieces of text using different colours, as well as underline words or block out redundant text.
You will also find that the software has a research tool to help children revise or prepare information to write reports. The Fact Folder option allows them to capture text and pictures from any application, classify it and record its source.
This software is cleverly constructed and particularly useful for proofreading, scanning, highlighting text and improving comprehension. Read&Write 10 GOLD has considerable potential to promote independent working and will certainly improve the accuracy and vocabulary of written work. It would make a lot of difference to the independent learning skills of children with dyslexia and those learning English as a second language. Highly recommended.
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