Home > e-languages, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, software, Spanish > Speaking dictionary/pronunciation help, Part 2 – The technology: Installation & configuration of the free Windows XP text-to-speech wizard

Speaking dictionary/pronunciation help, Part 2 – The technology: Installation & configuration of the free Windows XP text-to-speech wizard

  1. MS-Speech synthesis which comes free with Windows XP is a mature technology which gets even better if combined with free downloadable voice/language combinations and a simple interface.
  2. Since 2005, I have set up the following text-to-speech environment in language learning centers, wherever I could: The pleasant, speedy interface and convenient integration into the computing productivity environment (Clipboard, Internet Explorer) seems to lead to higher usage than online speaking dictionaries. And the price is hard to beat (all components are free on Windows XP).
  3. The Deskbot pronunciation – most of my own testing has been for German and English, but  I rely on the feedback of native speaking other teachers and tutors for other supported languages – is good on a word level . The prosody of sentence pronunciation leaves a lot to be desired, but is a start nevertheless.
  4. If you want to install the Deskbot Text-to-speech wizard for your users, or for your own testing and language learning, here are the steps and settings we recommend:
  5. Use these installers:
  6. Language TTS Engine Language Add-On
    American English tv_enua.exe already installed
    British English lhttseng.exe already installed
    Dutch lhttsdun.exe agtx0413.exe
    French lhttsfrf.exe agtx040C.exe
    German lhttsged.exe agtx0407.exe
    Italian lhttsiti.exe agtx0410.exe
    Japanese lhttsjpj.exe agtx0411.exe
    Korean lhttskok.exe agtx0412.exe
    Portuguese (Brazilian) lhttsptb.exe agtx0416.exe
    Russian lhttsrur.exe agtx0419.exe
    Spanish lhttsspe.exe agtx0C0A.exe
  7. Move the Deskbot near the lower right corner notification bar to have it not clutter the user interface.
  8. Do not automatically read clipboard when changed
  9. Do NOT play animation sound effect: effects wear out quickly and become distracting or annoying.
  10. Default set to American male: or whatever in your shared environment  is the language all learners understand .
  11. You have to click “set” to actually effect a change, and close the options dialogue.
  12. Set read random greeting at startup: in a shared computer setting, you can on startup.
  13. Have the Deskbot introduce himself with basic usage instructions: In order to have this feature self-advertise in the LRC, beyond my face-to-face-classes in the language center, I have the Deskbot read out an informational welcome message every time it starts up (you could use this feature also to have the Deskbot issue a random greeting in your target language).  
  14. Show balloon – useful since words scroll in as spoken.
  15. In the Speech control panel, you can set the speed to slow – useful for language learners.
  16. MS Agent Options: TBA
  17. You can view the Deskbot install process in sequence as a screencast:
  18. Or you can view the configuration options screens with recommended settings in this screenshot gallery: 
  1. For my own – and maybe your – reference, here is a raw screencast of the most recent installation and configuration of Deskbot multilingual text-to-speech engine for MS-Windows.
  2. time



    Base install begin


    Deskbot – including its installer – cannot handle the character encoding of some non-western languages that it speaks (Japanese, Korean, Russian). In order to have Deskbot speak these languages, you have to use the Deskbot option “Read Word document” (allowing Word to translate the character  encoding into a format Deskbot can understand enough to aurally (even if not visually) display).


    fine tuning for language learning purposes in deskbot options and speech control panel after install


    “advanced character options”: set the speaking speed


    Returning to the base installation of some more languages


    more deskbot options


    test of Spanish pronunciation with elpais.com

  3. In a computer lab environment with Faronics Deepfreeze and Symantecs Ghost imaging, you will also want to copy these settings to the Default user, and make sure that the deskbot startup items gets added to all users or HKLM registry hive (the interface does not allow for installing for all users).
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