New digital tools for improving reading from Microsoft


Reading aloud is one of the earliest (and most important) literacy practices. It begins in the first years of life and is fundamental for people’s cognitive development. Several studies show that daily reading aloud offers multiple benefits such as:

  • Children who are exposed to this stimulus are almost a full year ahead of their peers who do not receive it. This happens regardless of your socioeconomic status or cultural background.
  • Fluency, the ability to read accurately, quickly and expressively, is a skill dictated by reading aloud.

Despite all the benefits this practice brings in training boys and girls, navigating class time limitations and at the same time managing a class full of students is no easy task for teachers. To support education and provide tools to drive improvement, Microsoft is introducing Reading progress, a free tool integrated with Teams tasks and available in Trinidad and Tobago in several languages. This was designed to help educators create personalized reading experiences for each student that build reading confidence and fluency in their students.

Reading Progress works on all platforms including Desktop, Mac, Web, iOS and Android. Educators download a single passage to read aloud, or they can differentiate it for the many levels in their class. Students read their passages aloud and create a recording that teachers can access to review them whenever they want.

What are the advantages? Traditionally, monitoring students’ fluency is uneven and time-consuming as it requires careful listening one by one, while having to manage the activities of the rest of the class. Creating records allows teachers to check on student progress more frequently while freeing up time for active instruction. By enabling students to complete reading fluency assignments regularly and independently, Reading Progress maintains a focus on practice and growth, without working under pressure.

Whether educators have used the tool’s auto-discovery feature for a quick review or prefer to manually review areas for improvement, Reading Progress collects valuable data in insights. Teams Education Insights dashboards visualize the class as a whole as well as individual progress, providing a holistic view of trends and insights including accuracy rate, correct words per minute, most difficult vocabulary, incorrect pronunciations, omissions and insertions.

Microsoft also offers another tool to improve the reading experience. This is Immersive Reader, a free interactive reading tool designed to help students improve their reading, comprehension and grammar skills. Immersive Reader makes texts more accessible to all students, works with Microsoft’s most popular programs (from Word, Power Point and Excel to Edge, Teams and Outlook) and is easy to implement in classrooms, virtual learning and in performing tasks at home.

With just one click, Immersive Reader helps improve fluency in Spanish, English, and the languages ​​you are set to. In turn, it helps build confidence in the early years of reading and for those learning a new language.

Moreover, Immersive Reader is also very useful to facilitate learning and reading for people with dyslexia or other learning difficulties. The app recognizes any text written in Word, Power Point, OneNote, among other Microsoft solutions, and lets you change font sizes; read aloud and highlight the words with different colors, for those who are color blind.

In addition, it has a drawing dictionary, through which words can be translated into images, and includes grammatical options that allow you to separate a word into syllables, distinguish nouns, verbs or adjectives, between other functions. Immersive Reader is also available to browse a large number of web pages in Edge browser, to help those who do household chores at home.

Developing strong literacy skills from an early age is one of the keys to quality education for children everywhere, and technology should be a tool to facilitate and reinforce these processes.


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