What is transcription?

In the following section, we will discuss in detail what transcription is, various transcription methods, and who can benefit from using a transcription service like ours.

You can easily scroll through all the picks using the table of contents below:

What is transcription?

The act of transcribing is, at its simplest, transforming one system of characters to another. It usually covers the action of transferring speech into text as shown in the example below:


Transcription methods

There are two general methods of transcribing: manual and machine transcribing.

Manual transcription

Manual transcribing is when a person transcribes audio to text by listening to a recording and then writing down what is being said.

Manual transcribing can be a lengthy and somewhat challenging process since it requires a lot of patience and the message of communication can be influenced by the person who transcribes it.

With manual transcribing, you can normally expect to spend three to five times the length of the audio file on transcribing it.

Machine transcription

Machine transcription is when you convert speech to text via a transcription program or other software such as an app for transcription such as Focus on Listening.

Transcription in general

There may be many reasons to why you would possibly need to transcribe speech into text, but a common one is that it is easier to work with a written text than an audio file. This is true when conducting analysis but also in terms of practicality. It’s easier to search in a written text, when having to refer back, rather than a longer audio file, which can be difficult to manage. You will be able to find the specific quote or wording in a matter of seconds.

As a student, it will be easier to review a text when preparing for the exam, rather than having to go through an entire audio file. It’s much faster for the eyes to skim through written text and you can more easily search for a specific part of ​​a written lecture using the search function.

Therefore, it is often rather beneficial for students to transcribe speech into text via an app if they want to have systematic and thorough notes during exam preparations.


Challenges of transcribing

It’s important that you’re aware of the challenges that come with transcribing: it’s not always an immediate and straightforward procedure when converting oral communication into text.

When humans, such as ourselves, communicate, there are many different clues besides the language itself that the receiver must decode in order to understand the speaker’s message entirely.

Consequently, there might also be non-verbal features such as body language taking place during oral communication that can contain important clues to how the message is to be understood. An example of this is that the body language can indicate the sender’s mood and therefore also general attitude to the subject at hand. It can also be other verbal clues such as pronunciation of certain words. None of these can necessarily be transformed into writing.

The way that certain words are said, and the tone of voice as a whole, is not something that you can indicate in a written document. When it comes to body language, the written language also has its limitations in illustrating this. This is partly due to the fact that body language is also decoded based on social and cultural norms whereas transcriptions appear to be neutral.

Who can benefit from using a transcription app?

A transcription app can be a great tool for a variety of people.

Deaf and people with hearing impairment

Transcription has shown itself to be an extremely useful tool for a very special group of students who may otherwise face tough challenges, namely deaf students and students with hearing impairments.

For deaf students, transcription services can become indispensable as it helps break down the barrier that the hard of hearing might otherwise face when entering e.g. university as most lectures are usually held on-campus.

Journalists, scientists, doctors

In addition to assisting deaf students, transcription services are a method often associated with journalists, researchers, and perhaps even physicians and doctors.

For journalists, it usually pays off to record interviews and get them transcribed later so that they are easier to navigate through later. This way, they make sure that they won’t miss any important information or misquote their sources.

Researchers will typically use transcription services in much the same way as journalists. This is because most academics will tend to use qualitative measures such as interviews, study groups, surveys and more. When the interview or conversation has subsequently been transcribed, it will be easier to review and analyze, as well as referred to as a viable source in e.g. assignments or dissertations.

Doctors or other healthcare professionals will often dictate important information to reduce time spent on documentation. Later, the dictated audio can be transcribed and used in the further treatment of the patient. Dictation allows for the doctor to move faster with examinations and not stop repeatedly in the process to write down all necessary information.

Students – Academic transcription

For students, a transcription app can provide them with multiple benefits, one of which is to achieve better grades. You can read more about all the benefits of using our app as well as how to use it in the classroom right here. (link)

The Focus on Listening app is initially made for students but can also be used in other areas. An easy way to change the focus industry or area of the app is to change the categories in the app.

If you want to use the app as, let’s say, a journalist, you can edit the names of categories so they make more sense to you such as interview, press conference, source or something else, just as shown in the animation below:

Test out Focus on Listening now!
Download for Android