Do you ever mumble quietly while reading a book? Or repeat a phone number to yourself in an attempt to remember it?
In psychology, we learnt about the dual-coding theory. This theory says that we encode information in our working memory using two channels: one visual, and the other auditory. The new information is then transferred to our permanent, long-term memory.
This means that if we utilise both channels, we get twice the “bandwidth”. How can we put this to use in the real world?
I found two software programmes that will read out the text to you. You can copy the text from any application, such as emails, web sites, or e-books.
The first software is NaturalReader by NaturalSoft (confusingly, their web site is spelled “naturalreaders” with an “s”). The software is pretty basic, but it comes with a price tag of free. You can pay to upgrade to a premium version, which comes with more natural and human-sounding voices.
The second is called TextAloud by NextUp. You can download a fully-functioning 15-day trial version of the software. It comes with more features. I especially like the Internet Explorer add-on, which allows me to listen to web sites without having to copy-and-paste.
What I am experimenting with now, is to copy excerpts from e-books into TextAloud, and listen to the words as I read them. After every section, I write down a summary into Evernote.
This is a slow approach for me as I am a fast reader, and can read much more speedily than the software could pronounce. I could always alter the speed of the reading, but that just makes it sound weird.
But I believe the deeper learning I get in return increases the speed and level of my understanding. I hope you will try the above software and let me know how it works for you.
p.s. After checking out these software and listening to many voice samples, I find “Bridget” (female UK English) and “Julia” (female US English) to have the most natural-sounding voices. I prefer Bridget as Julia sounds creepily chirpy to me.