Dictation rules!

I found a great application for my phone, and if I didn’t know this, I would be really upset if no one shared it. If you know it already, apologies!

By picking other keyboards (on my system 5 iPhone), I can dictate in other languages. When I hit the microphone in the Russian keyboard, whether I speak Russian or English, the phone does its best to type out real words in Russian. (I found out that I’d been mispronouncing the word “car” all these years because the text that came up every time meant “wrinkle.” Who knew? My Russian friends, evidently, since they’ve all smiled about this.)

When I choose the Spanish keyboard, my phone searches for words in Spanish. When I chose Swiss French and German, I got what it thought was closest to words in those languages.

Here’s what I said, after having chosen Swiss French and some form of German: “I have to finish several lesson plans, and yet I am procrastinating.”

Here’s what I got in Swiss French: “Réaffecterait Fenèche c’est blanc Basse-Pointe indien Hyams pas Castellet.”

And in German: “Ein Hälfte finnisch Säbelrasseln transplantiert EyeEm Packers.”

Spanish: “Ay gastes en el sincero doesn’t fans en tierra siempre con este negrito.”

I know it’s nonsense, and only speakers of those languages know for sure whether the words my phone spewed match what I said in any way, but it’s really amusing. And it’s a huge time saver, if you actually know the language whose keyboard you’re using. (I was able to email myself those and copy/paste them here in seconds.) Bryce Hedstrom posted a lovely story on his free resources page that I was able to dictate in half the time I would have taken to type it out in Russian.

The only problem I had for a while, other than the “car” issue, was that my pronunciation of punctuation marks wasn’t working. Now those work, but it takes the phone a while to think about what I must mean, starting each time by printing out the words, then whirling for a moment, and then finally putting in the mark. I’m going to have to practice with a Russian.

When I was telling my (English class) students that they needed to learn to touch type, one told me that technology is improving fast enough that none of them do. They can dictate into their devices. He had a point.

I wonder how long it will take for standardized testing systems to catch up with this particular piece of the new world.


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