Free Materials For Teachers
Image©2014 ABS Boy working at computer and listening to feedback.
Feedback Is Important

It’s important to give students feedback as they work on tests or practice activities, so you can never have too many feedback sounds. This resource includes seven sets of feedback sounds in child, female, and male voices.

You can pick all the phrases from the same set to have a consistent voice, for example a male bass voice, speak the feedback for the entire activity. Alternately, you might prefer to mix up the voices, and have several different men, women, and children speak the feedback. That’s also easy, because the same phrases are recorded in each sound set at approximately the same volume.

I’ve made separate folders for each of the voices I used. You can download one zip file, expand it, and have folders for three male voices (bass, baritone, tenor), two female voices (alto, soprano), and two different child voices. I used only the best computer voices I had and adjusted their pitch, speaking rate, and modulation, so these feedback sounds are close in quality to real voices, and took much less time to produce.

To be sure they will work in any application, each folder has the set of sounds for that voice in both .mp3 and .wav formats. The spoken phrases are:

  • That’s correct!
  • Good job!
  • Perfect!
  • That’s right!
  • Yes!
  • You’re right!
  • No, sorry!
  • Correct!
  • Wrong!
  • Try again!
  • That’s not right.
  • Sorry.
  • All done!

Do It Yourself

You may need additional or different phrases, so here is how I created each of the sound sets. It takes time to do one full set, though I think it’s faster than trying to speak and edit each one yourself. It’s worth the labor, because you can use each sound multiple times.

I worked on a Mac computer in an excellent text editing shareware application, Tex-Edit Plus® (That’s not a typo; the author is a Texan :). I like to use that app instead of Text Edit® because it lets you change the pitch and modulation of voices as well as the speech rate. It only runs on Mac, but you can use any application such as NotePad® or Adobe Reader® that has an option to speak the text aloud.

You also can use a free online application, Natural Reader®, which has a demo area where you can paste your text and have it read by any of a long list of voices. My favorites are Julia, Crystal, Ryan, and Ray of the American voices, and Graham and Lucy of the British voices. All these voices are very high quality. However, I felt the need to slow down all of them!

Whichever application you use, here is an overview of the process of making a set of feedback sounds. For detailed instructions on all the settings and steps, download the PDF tutorial from the link at the foot of this page.

  1. Type each phrase and then hit return between phrases, so that the computer voices will read each one separately. If the computer voice still tends to run all the phrases together, put a period or even an exclamation point between phrases.
  2. Next, select the text and turn on speech. For each voice, record the entire set all at one time in Audacity®, and save an Audacity Project file for each voice. That way, all the feedback phrases from a given voice are the same volume and speed.
  3. The final step for each feedback set is to export the individual phrases. This is the only tedious part! Select each phrase, then choose Export Selection from the File menu. Do this twice for each phrase, changing from .mp3 to .wav file format. Be sure to manually add the extension, and check that the extension matches the file format chosen.
  • Note: If you aren’t familiar with Audacity, it’s an excellent FREE sound editor for both Mac and Windows. You can read about it here, then download a short tutorial and click a link to go to the download page for Audacity.
  • Recorded With Audacity

    To record feedback using each voice, I began by starting a New document in Audacity. I used the default Stereo and 44100 Hz settings. You might want to record in Mono and at a lower rate, but for these short phrases, I decided to use high quality settings. I did a little preliminary testing to see what volume setting I needed to get a good recording.

    Then I clicked the Record button, and saw the cursor zipping along generating recorded silence. Don’t worry, you can easily delete that silent leader from the soundtrack. I went into Tex-Edit Plus and turned on Read Entire Document. Depending on what app you use, you might have to select all the text first or do some other action, but it should be similar. As soon as the voice finished reading, I went back into Audacity and clicked the Stop button.

    The result was a soundtrack for each voice with spaces between individual phrases, making it easy to find the edges of each one. I deleted the leading and trailing silent sections, did a bit of fine-tuning on the volume of individual words, and saved each master soundtrack.

    In choosing computer voices to use, I selected only the highest quality voices that happened to be installed on my computer. If you don’t have ANY high quality voices installed, you should go to the online application. It’s not worth the labor to try to make feedback sounds with robot-y voices!

    More Voices Produced In Audacity

    In my case, there were only two male voices, one female voice, and one child voice that were of good enough quality to sound human. In spite of that, I ended up with more than four feedback sets. I was able to create variations by adjusting those default voices in Audacity.

    Audacity has a bewildering array of choices under the Filters menu, but there are only three you need to understand to make these feedback sounds. One is Amplify, to raise or lower the volume of individual phrases or an entire soundtrack. Another is Change Tempo, which changes the speed and therefore the duration in seconds of the recording without affecting the pitch. You might need that if the text application or system you are using has no way to change the speech rate.

    The filter you need in order to produce more different voices is Change Pitch, which raises or lowers the pitch of a voice without affecting the speed of the speech. Simply Select All of a soundtrack, and you can then use Change Pitch with no fear of producing chipmunk or zombie voices. I was able to raise one of my male voices from baritone to tenor, and the female voice to a soprano and a child’s voice. The second child voice is from one that comes on the Mac. With the help of Audacity, I was able to create a total of seven sets of feedback phrases!

    Image©2014 ABS Screenshot from Audacity showing part of waveform display selected, and menu with Export Selection
    Export Selection

    Groups Of Individual Phrases

    Once I had all the master soundtracks saved, I began exporting individual phrases. With a soundtrack open in Audacity, I could easily see the limits of each phrase on the waveform diagram. I was able to select a phrase, choose Export Selection, and save each phrase in both .mp3 and .wave format, and then move on to the next.

    In choosing which format to use, .mp3 is a smaller file size and works in most applications including IntelliTools Classroom Suite®, but .wav works in more web browsers and in all Windows® applications. That’s why I have included each sound in both formats.

    You will download the entire set of feedback sounds as a single zip file. Decompress it, and you’ll have a main folder inside which the phrases for each voice are grouped into individual subfolders

    Enjoy using these sounds in any of your activities. And try your hand at making a set of custom sounds for yourself! Step by step instructions are included in the PDF tutorial.

    Applications needed:Acrobat Reader, Audacity.
    Subject area: Science, Life Skills, Holidays, Social Studies, Language Arts.
    Level: Author, All Levels.

    Online Links-Resources

    More Audacity Click Here. Description of the features of Audacity, a short tutorial to download, and a link to the Audacity download page.

    Trans-Tex Software Click Here. Site from which you can download Tex-Edit Plus, a free text editing application for Mac.

    Natural Reader Click Here. Site from which you can download a free text reading application and try out voices online.

    Tutorial Online Version CLICK HERE to preview the Feedback Sounds tutorial online.

    Downloads-Resources (15.4 MB) Complete sets of ready to use feedback phrases in bass, baritone, tenor, alto, soprano, and two child voices. Each sound is in both .mp3 and .wav formats.

    FeedbackSoundsComputerVoices.pdf (1.4 MB) Tutorial about constructing feedback sounds to print. Acrobat Reader.

    September 30th, 2014 at 8:09 pm


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