Using Google Docs in your Spanish class can be frustrating since you need easy access to all the accents and special characters (¿, ¡) that you don’t have readily available on a typical keyboard. Here are a few suggestions . . . best one is at the end.

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Tip #1: Change the language of your Google Doc to Spanish

Go to “File” > “Language” and select “Español”. Notice all of the languages that are available!

The first Google Doc shown below has “English (United States)” selected.The second Google Doc shown below has “Español” selected.

Notice how the spell checker recognizes the Spanish words that require accents or that are misspelled. For example, “come” should be “como”. Students can right-click on the underlined words to correct them.

Tip #2: Adding Accents and Special Characters

Students (and teachers) also need an easy way to add accents and special characters to their Spanish documents. The Google Doc add-on Easy Accents does the trick quite well.

Go to the “Add-ons” menu and select “Get add-ons…”. Search for “Easy Accents” or you can simply click on the link above.Once Easy Accents has been added, go back to the “Add-ons” menu and select it and then select “Easy Accents – Start”

Choose your language – Spanish. Notice all of the languages that are available!

You now have access to all of the accents and special characters that you will need to quickly compose a Google Doc in Spanish. Simply click on an accent or special character when you need it and it will be inserted into your document next to the cursor.

Tip #3: Practice Spanish accents with Voice Typing

I saved the best for last! Under the “Tools” menu you will find “Voice Typing”.

Click on the arrow next to the language and select “Español”. Notice all of the languages (and dialects) that are available! Am I repeating myself?

Click on the microphone to start recording. You will have to click “Allow” so that your microphone can be accessed by Google Docs.

Start speaking in Spanish and watch the words flow on to the page. The accuracy is amazing! The accents are properly placed. Only proper nouns such as someone’s name (Albert) or a place (Seattle) can result in an error that is easily corrected by typing out the noun. If you speak in English, the voice type won’t type anything. You must speak in Spanish.

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Create a Google Doc with questions or sentences in English that the students have to answer or translate into Spanish. Now, you may ask why the students don’t simply type the answers.

This is the magic! By speaking rather than typing, students get to practice their Spanish accent!

When I first facilitated a lesson with this tool, many students got frustrated when the computer wouldn’t show what they were saying. I told the students that they MUST speak with a proper Spanish accent in order for their words to appear. Once I demonstrated this by speaking into the microphone with an accent, they realized that simply pronouncing the Spanish words wasn’t good enough. So, the voice typing tool was actually providing instant feedback as it either accepted or rejected the students’ dialogue! The students learned to appreciate the importance of speaking with the proper accent and the whole room sounded more like native Spanish speakers rather than English-speaking students simply saying Spanish words. Fantastic!