Use Kindle to improve your English

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What can a Kindle do for your English accent?

First things first: without getting into details, generally speaking a Kindle (from Amazon) is either an e-reader (used to read ebooks sold at Amazon.com) or a tablet (used to read the same ebooks sold at Amazon.com, but can also perform other activities such as checking your email, browsing the Internet, running thousands of applications for a series of purposes such as entertainment, business, and more).

You might be asking what is the connection between a Kindle and your goals which are to improve your English communication skills, improve your English accent while reducing your native accent? The answer is everything!

Kindle one of the most recognized e-readers in the ebooks’ market, and one of the features that out stands Kindle from other companies that also sell e-readers is that Kindle has a specific built-in feature that is not found in any other e-reader in the market: is has a text-to-speech option.

 

What is text-to-speech feature that only Kindle has?

The text-to-speech option is a feature that, once you turn it on (by default it is off), you will be able to hear the book being read to you while you can still read the book (the text remains available to your eyes), if you want to. This is what you will need to increase your vocabulary, to improve your English accent, and to reduce your native accent.

You must keep in mind that text-to-speech feature is available in most Kindle ebooks, but not in all of them. To know if this feature is available in a specific ebook, all you have to do is find the ebook of your interest at Amazon.com (Kindle Store), and check the books’ features to see if it has this option there.

In order to improve your English accent and reduce your native accent, you must first know how to pronounce the word correctly, of course. Kindle is a great approach to achieve this goal. See it not just an e-reader, but as a very important learning tool that will even save you time and money at the end of the day.

 

Benefits of text-to-speech feature to improve your English accent

While reading any book in English, many times you will come across words that either you don’t know how to pronounce it correctly and/or you don’t know what it means. This is absolutely normal, and to solve these two issues (pronunciation and meaning), you would have to have access to some electronic device that could pronounce the word, and have a dictionary in hands to look out for the meaning of that word.

Seriously, it’s a lot of work, and it become overwhelming and boring very fast. In the long run, it would be hard to keep up with these tasks, and you would feel as if you were spending more time trying to figure out the pronunciation/meaning of the words rather than actually reading the book. You will definitely loss your motivation … I mean it.

Here is where Kindle comes into play, with its’ built-in features that are extremely beneficial to you:

 

  • You will definitely increase your vocabulary (there is no better way to do so);
  • You can turn on the text-to-speech feature, so while you are actually seeing the written words, you will also be hearing it read to you so you will know how it is pronounced properly;
  • You can choose whether you want a male or female voice, whatever pleases you most;
  • You can choose the reading speed so you can take the most out of this feature. This means that if you are not yet comfortable with the English language, you can hear the book being read to you in a slow pace, and increase the speed as you improve your English skills;
  • Kindle has a built-in dictionary which gives you the meaning of the word with a very simple approach: all you have to do is put the cursor in front of the word, and it will automatically prompt a window with the words’ meaning;
  • Last but not least … you will save money since you won’t have to buy a speaking gadget or be held in front of your computer to have access to any website available over the Internet that might give you the correct words’ pronunciation, as well as it will also save you money, since you won’t need to buy a dictionary;

 

Using a Kindle is a great option not only to improve your English, but also to maintain it throughout the years. Kindle is one of the best options for those who want to keep improving their English skills. You’ll have fun doing so!

Whether you believe me or not, if you keep on with the reading you will soon realize that you’ll start reading in English as if you were reading in your own mother language.

Kindle also has several FREE word games that will help you improve your vocabulary over the time. All you have to do is download the application and start using it. It’s that simple.

 

Text-to-speech feature is not an audible book

Be aware that audible books available either on-line or in store has nothing to do with the text-to-speech feature available on Kindle devices.

Audible books are book that has ONLY the voice, and the book is actually read to you either from the author or from another person, so you have no access to the written book per se.

Don’t get me wrong, I do appreciate audio-books for several reasons, but you must have more control over the English language in order to fully appreciate these audio-books.

However, only when you have both the audio AND the written part of the book you will really be able to match the sounds to the words, which will then help you improve your English skills, and reduce the barriers imposed by your native accent, since you know how to pronounce the English words properly.

Keep in mind that ext-to-speech feature is an OPTION you have if you want to follow the reader while actually reading the written text. You have the book in your hand (meaning Kindle device) and you choose to hear it being read to you aloud. This is what you want.

Some people might complaint that it sounds of the reading is fake (it’s a digital sound), and that the text is being read without emotion. From my personal experience, it really doesn’t matter at all because the purpose here is to improve your English vocabulary (Kindle will do the job), and know the correct English pronunciation (Kindle will also do the job).

 

How to identify a Kindle eBook with a text-to-speech feature

In order to identify whether a ebook sold at Kindle store (Amazon) has the feature text-to-speech available (remember that not all Kindle ebooks has this feature), just go to Kindle store and find the ebook of your interest.

Once you found it, just click on it to actually go to the ebooks page where you can find more information related to that specific ebook. Scrolling down the page, you will find technical details of that product, and that is where you will find out if this specific ebooks has the feature text-to-speech available or not.

As an example, I did a print screen of a random Kindle ebook at Amazon.com to show you how it looks like. Below you will find the print screen and in the red rectangle, you will see the text-to-speech feature highlighted.

 

Kindle-ebook-text-to-speech feature

 

Very simple, isn’t it? So this is what you have to look for.

 

Doesn’t iPad or Nook has text-to-speech feature?

I’m sorry, iPad fans (of course you know this, but just to make sure that we all understand each other, iPad (iPad 2 or the new iPad) are tables engineered by Apple with many very useful features, including for reading ebooks); I’m sorry, Nook fans (the e-reader/tablet produced by Barnes and Noble that reads ebooks as well), but despite the fact that you can read eBooks on both devices, none of them have the option text-to-speech.

But you know that you can download a Kindle free application from Apple Store in order to read ebooks sold by Amazon, right? Yes you can, but the feature text-to-speech will NOT be available. You can still read the ebooks you bought from Amazon, but you won’t have the book read to you, and this is what we want.

 

Which kind of Kindle device will help me the best?

There are many different models of Kindle e-readers/tablet available at Amazon.com and if you are looking to buy a new one, there is nowhere else to find better prices. You might find used Kindle to buy at different places, but be aware that you won’t have the warranty if anything is wrong with it since the warranty will be probably expired.

So which one will help me the most to reduce my English accent? The answer to this question is very simple … all models will do the job!! What you really need to look for is that whatever e-book you purchase from Kindle Store at Amazon.com has the feature text-to-speech available.

All Kindle devices will be useful to improve your English vocabulary, learn new words, and learn the right pronunciation of the unknown words you might come across.

The basic features you should look for when deciding which Kindle device best fits your needs are pointed below:

1. Screen size – most models have a 6″ screen size, but there is a 9″ screen model available;

2. Screen color – most models use E Ink display, resembling a paper. Since there are no lights in the back screen, these models are very energy saving, so the battery lasts for weeks without needing to be recharged. It also is anti-glare, meaning that you won’t have any problem with the screen reflecting images from the surroundings while you read your book. The model Kindle Fire is the only one colored screen and since is has light shining in the back, the batteries last much less (approximately 10 hours) of continuous usage;

3. WiFi and 3G – all models has WiFi connection, which means that whenever there is a WiFi available, it can connect to it. Not all models have 3G feature, and if you are planning to use this device abroad, go for a model with 3G because Amazon blocks purchases abroad using WiFi (I don’t understand, but that is how it works). Even though 3G might be a little slower than WiFi, you can still buy books from Kindle Store while abroad. The good thing is that Kindles’s 3G is absolutely free! You don’t have to sign up for a plan from any company at all;

4. Touch pad or keyboard – it is up to you, but be aware that the touch feature might have a slight delay, since this is not a laptop, but a reading device;

5. Prices – varies according to all the features already mentioned. The more features, the more expensive they are, but compared to other reading gadgets and tablets available in the market, Kindle is among the cheapest, and is the only device that has the text-to-speech feature we are looking for.

 

Very important for international users with Kindle devices

If you are buying a Kindle AND you don’t live in the US, despite all models having WiFi connection from the box, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND you to go for a Kindle model that has the 3G feature.

Why? Because even though you will be able to connect any Kindle to any WiFi around the world, you won’t be able to buy anything from Amazon while abroad due to trade mark policies. Whatever you downloaded to your Kindle while within the US, you’ll be able to use BUT you won’t be able to download anything else directly to your Kindle while abroad.

To overcome this limitation, you’ll can still buy books while abroad, but you’ll have to buy it on your Kindle’s account using a computer, download it to your account, and then transfer it via USB connection to your Kindle device. Keep in mind that if you have a Kindle Fire (which doesn’t have 3G installed), you’ll be able to use all its’ features but you will only be able to download books through a computer connected to the Internet. No apps nor movies you’ll be able to do so.

With this been said, I repeat that, in my personal opinion, if you live abroad the US and you are buying a Kindle also to help you improve your English skill, I definitely recommend you to go for a Kindle model with a 3G connection.

I personally have a Kindle DX with 3G (all models come with WiFi!) and I even though my payment account is linked to an international credit with a billing address abroad the US, I have no problems to buy any books what-so-ever from Amazon, whether using WiFi or 3G connection.

Be aware that while abroad, Kindle Whispernet (the approach Amazon uses to download ebooks directly to your device) charges a small fee to do so. In order to avoid the extra charge to your account, you can buy the ebook from Amazon, and have it downloaded to your Kindle account on your computer. From there, using a USB connection, you can transfer it to your Kindle device without having to pay anything else for it, even while abroad. It’s only a matter of minutes to do so, very simple, but you decide what you want to do … all I’m saying here is that there is a way around to avoid being charged to download your ebook to your Kindle.

 

Models of Kindle e-readers/tablet

Aware of the important issues we’ve previously discussed, and knowing what you actually want, here are the links to each Kindle model available at Amazon.com:

1. Kindle (6″ screen + WiFi) – Kindle, Wi-Fi, 6″ E Ink Display – includes Special Offers & Sponsored Screensavers

2. Kindle Touch (6″ screen + WiFi) - Kindle Touch, Wi-Fi, 6″ E Ink Display – includes Special Offers & Sponsored Screensavers

3. Kindle Touch (6″ screen + WiFi & 3G) - Kindle Touch 3G, Free 3G + Wi-Fi, 6″ E Ink Display – includes Special Offers & Sponsored Screensavers

4. Kindle with keyboard (6″ screen + WiFi) - Kindle Keyboard 3G, Free 3G + Wi-Fi, 6″ E Ink Display – includes Special Offers & Sponsored Screensavers

5. Kindle DX (9.7″ screen + WiFi & 3G) – Kindle DX, Free 3G, 9.7″ E Ink Display, 3G Works Globally

6. Kindle Fire (7″ screen + WiFi) - Kindle Fire, Full Color 7″ Multi-touch Display, Wi-Fi

 

Keep improving your English while having fun … get a Kindle!!!

 

 

 

 

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