Microsoft’s Office Lens / Immersive Reader for EAL Learners

Image result for microsoft office lens

Have you tried Microsoft’s Office Lens and Immersive reader app for your EAL learners? I have and I highly recommend it!

Below are the steps you need to take to open Immersive Reader and then an explanation of some of the things that you can use it for in mainstream classrooms.

You need to have signed into an Office 365 / Microsoft account to use the app.

  • Through Office Lens you can take photos of any document or whiteboard presentation.
  • Next, click ‘done’ in the bottom right hand corner as you can see in the photo above.
  • You will come to a screen that says ‘Export to’ then click on Immersive Reader (one of the last options) and which you can see in the image below.
Microsoft’s Immersive Reader

Immersive Reader is a really great app to use with EAL Learners for a number of reasons:

  • Text can be read out loud (by clicking on the green arrow like button in the photo above), allowing your EAL learners to also listen to what they are reading. This is really good for beginner EAL learners because they hear the text and can read along at the same time.
  • Amongst other things, you can change the text size (photo above) to suit the needs of your learners. This can be helpful to SEND, EAL learners as well as other learners in your classrooms.
  • Different parts of speech can be highlighted (photo above) allowing learners to focus on different words throughout the text.
  • When you click on the book icon in the top right hand corner (photo above), you are given more options. For instance you can select to focus on different parts of the text. The images below show how you can focus on: single lines, 3 lines and whole paragraphs. This is a particularly helpful function for beginner EAL learners who may be at the early stages of learning to read. By focusing on specific lines as they read, learners do not get distracted.
focus line by line
focus on 3 lines
focus on whole paragraphs
  • Text can be translated into the first language (L1) of the learner. The example below shows the original text translated into Hindi. With some languages the learner’s L1 can be read out loud as well! This is a really powerful tool and I have found it to be fairly reliable. I use it with my beginner EAL learners especially because it allows them to comprehend texts that are used in the classroom. It can also be good for more proficient EAL Learners and can help to explain abstract, complex texts.
Translated Document
  • The picture dictionary (image below) allows learners to highlight words in a text (not all words can use this function though!), see a picture of the word, see a translation of the word in the learner’s L1, and have the word read out loud to them. Again really helpful for making texts used in the classroom more comprehensible.
Picture Dictionary

Using Office Lens can be really beneficial to EAL learners in your classrooms. I have used it on a number of occasions for example in a Year 11 (15 – 16 year olds) English class. The class were reading Jekyll and Hyde and through using the translation tool an Urdu speaking learner was able to comprehend the text and answer questions that were being asked to the whole class. After using Immersive Reader, the learner wrote GCSE style responses in Urdu and then translated these into English. Through her translations I could see how she had been able to comprehend a quite complex text that in the past might have been too difficult to access. Colleagues have used Office Lens in Science classrooms, Geography lessons and Religious Studies classes.

Office Lens allows learners to access texts that might have been a problem in the past without appropriate scaffolding or resources. It saves time for teachers because using of all the functions that can be performed. If you have access to IPad or other devices it is well worth trying in your classroom.

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