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urVoice: Personalized Audio Visual Dictionary (Mobile App)

More Ways

iPad(s) or iPhone(s) or iPod Touch, document camera and screen for demonstration (optional)

Activity Description

Have students use this text to speech app with augmentative and alternative communication with type and talk capabilities to create personalized picture dictionaries with images and audio.


Before using this activity in class:

  1. Download the app on your device(s). Enable your school’s wi-fi on each device. Note: This may require a password. No Internet connection is required to use the app, however.
  2. Practice using the app to familiarize yourself with it.
  3. Set the volume of the devise(s) at a reasonable volume.
  4. Prepare a list of vocabulary words (such as concrete nouns or action verbs) that you would like to have students to learn and practice. For example, if you are teaching a unit on food, vocabulary words could include various fruits, vegetables, meat/poultry, grain products, drinks, and seasonings/spices. You may want to bring in realia (actual objects) or photos of objects you want students to learn.


  1. Have students open the app and model for them how to use it.
  2. Select Settings. Select a voice – there are four female voices that speak with different English accents (e.g., American, British, Australian) and one male voice. Select Test Voice to hear. Change speed and pitch as desired by moving the sliders then select “Test Voice” again to hear the new voice. Select Done.
  3. Type a word in the text box. Select Talk to listen to the word.
  4. Select Save. The word will be saved in Phrases.
  5. Select the "i" next to a word in Phrases to edit.
  6. To add a photo, select Tap Photo to Edit. Students can take a photo of realia (either in the classroom, at home, or in the community), take a photo of images you have brought to class, or select photos already saved on their devices. To take a photo with the device’s camera, select Take Photo. Allow the app to access the device’s camera, take a photo, and choose Use. Then Save. To use photos already on the devices, allow the device to access photos, select the photo, and choose Use then Save.
  7. To listen to the words, students simply select a word in Phrases, and the audio will play.
  8. To delete words, select Phrases, Edit, the red circle, and Delete.
  9. Students can practice listening to, reading, and seeing images for the target vocabulary words in the app by selecting Phrases after opening the app.

Teacher Tips

  • No Internet connection required after the initial downloading of the app. If someone as a very restrictive data plan, have them sign-in to the school's wifi to do the download. Premium upgrade $4.99 to remove ads.
  • According to the developer's site, the free version limits the number of saved Quick Phrases (words) to 3.
  • Teach your students about ads and how to avoid accidental "in-app" purchases.
  • If you do not have a document camera, you can also use a device adapter to connect your mobile device directly to the projector.

More Ways

  • Prepare a list of phrases you want students to use fluently, for example expressions for the classroom, greeting and leave-taking, meaning clarification, negotiation, or group work.
  • You could also prepare a list of tongue-twisters (see American Folklore  for examples), or sentences for students to practice specific pronunciation difficulties (e.g., word final –s endings as /s/, /z/, and /Iz/, word final –ed endings as /t/, /d/, and /Id/).


  • Beginning Literacy
  • Beginning Low
  • Beginning High
  • Intermediate Low


Basic Communication

  • (0.1) Communicate in interpersonal interactions
  • (0.2) Communicate regarding personal information

Basic Communication

  • (1.2) Use information to identify and purchase goods and services

Basic Communication

  • (2.1) Use the telephone and similar communication systems

Basic Communication

  • (7.4) Demonstrate study skills
  • (7.1) Identify or demonstrate effective skills and practices in accomplishing goals

Basic Communication

Mobile Device


  • iPhone
  • iPad

Apple Store

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OTAN activities are funded by contract CN200091-A2 from the Adult Education Office, in the Career & College Transition Division, California Department of Education, with funds provided through Federal P.L., 105-220, Section 223. However, OTAN content does not necessarily reflect the position of that department or the U.S. Department of Education.