English voices in ‘Text-to-speech tools’: representation of English users and their varieties from a World Englishes perspective

Ali Karakaş


English has experienced grave transformations recently in terms of socio-demographic and geographical characteristics. While such transformations have resulted in diverse types of English uses and various English users, the existing ELT materials still fail to represent the global varieties and dynamic uses and users of English. Moving from a World Englishes perspective, this paper investigates a corpus of online Text-to-Speech tools and software to discuss their suitability for teaching English according to the plurithic view of English, which throws focus on various users and uses of English. Analysed via quantitative content analysis, the data showed that TTS tools promoted the Inner circle (native-English) varieties over the Outer and External circle (non-native) varieties and non-native accents. In addition, the absolute absence of users from the Expanding circle was observed as no speakers from this circle was available in the tools analysed. The findings suggest that a satisfactory World Englishes perspective has not yet been taken into consideration in the present Text-to-Speech tools. There is, thus, a crucial need for a shift in the design of such tools to get them adjusted to represent different types of English users and uses.


World Englishes; text-to-speech technology; English language teaching; linguistic diversity; concentric circles; lingua franca; language varieties

Full Text:



Azuma, J. (2008). Applying TTS technology to foreign language teaching. In F. Zhang & B. Barber (eds.), Handbook of research on computer-enhanced language acquisition and learning, (pp. 497-506). New York: Information Science Reference.

Baker, F. S. (2014). Text-to-speech software as assistive and mainstream technology: Transitioning from a functional to a socio-constructivist approach. In B. DaCosta & S. Seok (eds.), Assistive technology research, practice, and theory, (pp. 27- 43). Hersley, PA: IGI Global.

Beal, V. (n.d.). TTS- text to speech. Retrieved from http://www.webopedia.com/TERM/T/TTS.html

Bhatt, R. M. (2001). World Englishes. Annual Review of Anthropology, 30, 527–550.

Brumfit, C. (2001). Individual freedom in language teaching. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Brutt-Griffler, J., & Samimy, K. K. (2001). Transcending the nativeness paradigm. World Englishes, 20(1), 99–106. https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-971X.00199

Chiang, H. & Liu, C. (2011). Evaluation of the benefits of assistive reading software: Perceptions of high school students with learning disabilities. Assistive Technology, 4(2), 106-118.

Cohen, L., Lawrence, M. & Keith, M. (2007). Research methods in education (6th ed.). London: Routledge/Falmer.

D’Silva, R. A. (2005). Promoting reading skills of young adult EAL learners through voice recognition software. (Unpublished master’s dissertation). University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada.

D’Souza, J. (1999). Afterword. World Englishes, 18(2), 271–274.

Dewey, M. (2012). Beyond labels and categories in English language teaching: Critical reflections on popular conceptualisations. In C. Leung & B. Street (eds.). English – A changing medium for schooling, (pp. 129-149). Bristol: Multilingual Matters.

Drezek, J. (2007). Adult ESOL reading comprehension and text-to-speech software. (Unpublished master’s dissertation). University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada.

Garrett, N. (1991). Technology in the service of language learning: Trends and issues. The Modern Language Journal, 75(1), 74-101.

Genç, Z. S. (2012). May. Learners’ perceptions of ELF: The Turkish context. Paper presented at the Fifth International Conference of English as a Lingua Franca. Boğaziçi University, Istanbul, Turkey.

Gülle, T., Kurt, Y. & Sönmez, E. (2016). Representation of English in ELT textbooks: Any room for EIL/ELF?. The 9th International Conference of English as a Lingua Franca, Book of abstracts, 40. Retrieved from http://www.elf9.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/ELF_9_Programme_and_book_of_abstracts.pdf

Higgins, J. (1988). Language, learners and computers. London: Longman.

Hirai, A. & O’ki, T. (2011). Comprehensibility and naturalness of Text-To-Speech synthetic materials for EFL listeners. JACET Journal, 53, 1-17

Holliday, A. (2006). Native-speakerism. ELT Journal, 60(4), 385–387.

Jenkins, J. (2006). Points of view and blind spots: ELF and SLA. International Journal of Applied Linguistics, 16(2), 137–162.

Jenkins, J. (2007). English as a lingua franca: Attitude and identity. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Jenkins, J. (2015). Repositioning English and multilingualism in English as a Lingua Franca. Englishes in Practice, 2(3), 49–85.

Jones, C., Berry, L. & Stevens, C. (2007). Synthesized speech intelligibility and persuasion: Speech rate and non-native listeners. Computer Speech and Language, 21(4), 641-651.

Kachru, B. B. (1986). The Alchemy of English: The spread, functions and models of non-Native Englishes. London: Pergamon.

Kachru, B. B. (1992). The Other tongue: English across cultures (2nd ed.). Urbana: University of Illinois Press.

Karakaş, A. (2016). Turkish lecturers’ and students’ perceptions of English in English-medium universities. (PhD dissertation). Southampton: Southampton University.

Kataoka, H. (2007, December). Preparation for university entrance examinations: how to learn frequently-appearing English words with the TTS audios. Paper presented at the Multimedia & Internet Seminar, Japan Association for Language Education and Technology (LET), Kansai Chapter, Osaka, Japan.

Kataoka, H. (2009). The use of Text-To-Speech (TTS) synthesis technology for English education: Speech recognition of Japanese EFL learners [Text-To-Speech (TTS) synthesis technology o katsuyoushita eigo kyouikukyouzai no kaihatsu to nihonjin no onseininshiki]. Journal of Kansai University Graduate School of Foreign Language Education and Research, 7, 1-33.

Kılıçkaya, F. (2006). Text-To-Speech Technology: What Does It Offer To Foreign Language Learners?. CALL-EJ Online, 7(2). [Online]

Kılıçkaya, F. (2008). Improving pronunciation via accent reduction and text-to-speech software. In T. Koyama, J. Noguchi, Y. Yoshinari & A. Iwasaki (eds.). Proceedings of the WorldCALL 2008 Conference, Japan, 1, 135–137.

Kılıçkaya, F. (2011). Improving pronunciation via accent reduction and text-to-speech software. In M. Levy, F. Blin, C. B. Siskin & O. Takeuchi (eds.), WorldCALL: International perspectives on computer-assisted language learning, (pp. 85-96). New York, NY: Routledge.

Lee, H. (2012). An investigation of Taiwanese university students’ attitudes towards ELF. (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). Southampton University, Southampton, UK.

Lippi-Green, R. (2012). English with an Accent: Language, Ideology, and Discrimination (2nd ed.) London: Routledge.

Matsuda, A. & Friedrich, P. (2012). Selecting an Instructional Variety for an EIL 56 Curriculum. In A. Matsuda. (ed.). Principles and practices of teaching English as an international language, (pp. 17-26). Bristol: Multilingual Matters.

Matsuda, A. (2002a). “International understanding” through teaching world Englishes. World Englishes, 21(3), 436–440. http://doi.org/10.1111/1467-971X.00262

Matsuda, A. (2002b). Representation of users and uses of English in beginning Japanese EFL textbooks. JALT Journal, 24(2), 49-62.

McArthur T. (1993). The English language or the English languages? In W. F. Bolton & D. Crystal (eds.), The English Language (pp. 323– 341). London: Penguin Books.

Mckay, L. M. (2012b). Principles of teaching English as an international language. In L. Alsagoff, G. Hu, S. L. Mckay & W. A. Renandya (eds.), Principles and Practices for Teaching English as an International Language, (pp. 28–46). New York, NY: Routledge.

McKay, S. L. (2012a). Teaching materials for English as an international language. In A. Matsuda (ed.), Principles and practices of teaching English as an international language, (pp. 70–83). Bristol: Multilingual Matters.

Moon, D. (2012). Web-Based Text-to-Speech Technologies in Foreign Language Learning: Opportunities and Challenges. In T. Kim, J. Ma & W. Fang (eds), Computer Applications for Database, Education, and Ubiquitous Computing, (pp. 120-125). Springer Berlin Heidelberg.

Neuendorf, K. A. (2002). The content analysis guidebook. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Parr, M. (2013). Text-to-speech technology as inclusive reading practice: Changing perspectives, overcoming barriers. LEARNing spaces, 6(2), 303-322.

Pim, C. (2013). Emerging technologies, emerging minds: digital innovations within the primary sector. In G. Motteram (ed), Innovations in learning technologies for English language teaching, (pp. 17-42). UK: Spring Gardens

Rogerson-Revell, P. (2007). Using English for international business: A European case study. English for specific purposes, 26(1), 103-120.

Sha, G. (2009). Using TTS voices to develop audio materials for listening comprehension: A digital approach. British Journal of Educational Technology, 41(4), 632-641.

Suviniitty, J. (2009, July). What you have to understand is... – Interactional features in lectures. Paper presented at the SEFI the Société Européenne pour la Formation des Ingénieurs – European Society for Engineering Education. Rotterdam.

Syrbe, M. & Rose, H. (2016). An evaluation of the global orientation of English textbooks in Germany. Innovation in Language Learning and Teaching, 1-12.

Tollefson, J. W. (2000). Policy and ideology in the spread of English. In J. K. Hall & W. Eggington (eds), The sociopolitics of English language teaching, (pp. 7-21). Buffalo: Multilingual Matters Ltd.

Vettorel, P & Lopriore, L. (2013). Is there ELF in ELT coursebooks?. Studies in Second Language Learning and Teaching, 3(4), 483-504.

Vettorel, P. & Bayyurt, Y. (2016). ELF-aware teaching materials: the case of Turkey and Italy. The 9th International Conference of English as a Lingua Franca, Book of abstracts, 68.

Yılmaz-Öztürk, S. (2016). Gender representation in EFL textbooks used at secondary schools in Turkey. The 9th International Conference of English as a Lingua Franca, Book of abstracts, 70.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.7575/aiac.alls.v.8n.5p.108


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

2010-2023 (CC-BY) Australian International Academic Centre PTY.LTD.

Advances in Language and Literary Studies

You may require to add the 'aiac.org.au' domain to your e-mail 'safe list’ If you do not receive e-mail in your 'inbox'. Otherwise, you may check your 'Spam mail' or 'junk mail' folders.