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Technology tips – writing

Technology tips – writing

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There are many ways you can use your mobile phone, tablet and laptop to help you improve your English.

Spelling

Are you unsure about your spelling? Dictation programs or apps will let you talk to your device and it will type what you say. This can be a good way to check that you are spelling words correctly. It will also help you check if you are pronouncing words correctly. 

The good news is the iPhone already comes with an app that does this - notes-app-icon Notes.

  1. Open the Notes app.
  2. Open a new note.
  3. Click on the microphone picture button. For the first use, it will ask you: Enable? Click on this.
  4. Dictate (talk) to your phone. It will type what you say. 
  5. Compare the word or sentence to your writing and check your spelling. 

how-to-dictate-notes-app-iphone

Writing websites and programs

There are many websites and programs that can help improve your written English. However, the programs are only as good as the person using them.  

It is important that you understand and agree with any suggestions the program makes, rather than just accepting all of them. If you are not sure, then you should check the suggestion yourself. Go to one of the grammar websites recommended below to learn more, or use a dictionary to check the meaning of the word. Read the previous blog post Technology tips – vocabulary to find out which dictionaries we recommend.  

Microsoft Word

This program includes a spelling and grammar check program. When you have finished writing something, click on the Spelling & Grammar button and check your whole document. 

Have you seen a red or green wavy line? This is the program making a suggestion about the word or sentence. If you want to check the suggestion while you are typing, right click on the red wavy line. It will present one or more suggestions for correct spelling options. If one of them is correct, click on it and it will automatically change the word on your document. If you are happy with the original spelling (e.g. you typed a name) then you can choose Ignore once. The wavy line will disappear. 

microsoft-word-spellcheckmicrosoft-word-spelling-and-grammar-button 

Google

Google has become really good at spell-checking questions. If you type a word in a Google search, it will ask you Did you mean: correct spelling of the word.

If that doesn’t work, you can add define: before the word. This tells Google to give you a dictionary definition of that word.  

google-search-result-screenshot

Grammarly

The free version of the Grammarly app provides a basic grammar check. This app works better on laptops or computers. You can download the plugin and add it to your Google Chrome account, Windows and Microsoft Office. We recommend using the Windows and Microsoft Office versions. Grammarly works on Google Chrome, but the free version has some limited functions. 

Grammarly will also send you an email every week with advice and links to the Grammarly Blog which has information to help you learn more about your most common mistake. 

GrammarCheck

The GrammarCheck website is a simple version of Grammarly. You do not need you to download anything. You can use this website to copy and paste text from another document to check your grammar.

There is also advice on grammar topics in the sections called: Blog and Infographics.

Write and Improve

The write and improve website is a free service for learners of English to practise their written English. It gives feedback on spelling, vocabulary, grammar and general style. It is good for all levels.

This is how it works:

  1. Choose a level and a topic.
  2. Write.
  3. Submit your written work and receive feedback.  

Centre for Independent Language Learning (CILL) 

The CILL website will let you practice: writing, reading, listening, speaking, vocabulary and grammar. 

In the writing menu, there are six links to programs that will focus on different writing issues.

  1. The Common Error Detector – copy and paste your essay into the box and the Error Detector finds some common problems in academic essay writing and gives you tips how to solve them.
  2. Organisation Tool – helps you to re-organise lists; e.g. lists of topics to put in essays.
  3. Pros and Cons Calculator – helps you decide which side of an argument is stronger.
  4. Scanner – a program that highlights the words in a text that are easy for a reader to find. Use it to improve the organisation and reader-friendliness of your writing.
  5. Advanced Dictionary Skills – this site will teach you how to find the meaning of words faster, and teach you how to improve your vocabulary and pronunciation.
  6. How to Use Words and Phrases Correctly (Use the Concordancer in the middle of the page)

Use the Common Error Detector to identify errors, obtain an explanation of the problem and find a solution.

Hemingway

Do you have problems with writing really long sentences that your teacher says are hard to understand? Then Hemingway is for you.  

The Hemingway website has a free, simple and easy to use option. Either type or copy your writing onto the web page. The program will then give you information about how to make your writing easier to read. 

If there are any websites and apps you recommend, come and tell a Study Support Teacher or comment on this post. 

Look for the next Blog Post for more Technology ideas.

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