American Literacy Council

Instructor's Guide

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Sound-Write is a spelling and reading tool that offers instant audiovisual feedback for people in school, home, or workplace. No matter the age or background, anyone learning to read or write English has to patiently master the spelling of at least 1000 words. More is better. Given our inconsistent use of 26 letters in the English language English spelling (as compared to other languages with logical spelling systems) uses letters very inconsistently to represent our 42 speech sounds.

English spelling is often out of sync with the sound of words, yet it's crucial that a student link the sounds of our words and the irregular, inconsistent ways we spell. With this program, spelling irregularities will be gradually assimilated by learners as various senses such as hearing, seeing, and touching are assaulted simultaneously and immediately with correct audible pronunciation and visually corrected spelling. This product provides:

  • Instant visual correction of misspellings when they occur.
  • Immediate visual confirmation of correct spellings when they occur.
  • Private surroundings where a student learns at his or her own pace, free from pressure, embarrassment, and criticism.
  • Audio feedback – hearing…each…word – in the meaningful context of a student's sentence.
  • Optional phonic tutoring in a language experience setting.
  • Saved listing of misspellings for later review or testing.

Sound-Write provides this environment. Students can concentrate on the substance of their work while impressing correct spelling onto memory at the crucial moment when the mind is most receptive; at the moment of creating a word, phrase, or sentence.

If a word is misspelled, the program immediately corrects it, and then begins to reinforce the "correct" spelling. How? On the screen before the user's eyes, the program moves the incorrect spelling down below the correct one while altering its color so that incorrect and correct are easily compared. The comparison, presented privately and routinely without criticism, tends to fix (visually) corrected spellings in the learner's mind. Strong signals are immediately sent to memory.

One or two repeats make for a strong impression and the student is encouraged to see if a word can be typed without having the program correct it. This points to a second, equally important aspect of the software: When pupils type a word correctly, Sound-Write instantly confirms its correctness by NOT changing the word on screen, but by letting it be, as is. 'No change' becomes 'okay'. 'No change' is a personal victory, and helps anchor spellings in memory.

Additionally, the words are spoken aloud for the student to hear the pronunciation of the word, enabling further association of the spoken word with the written word.

This powerful teaching synthesis is unique to Sound-Write. No other writing software provides immediate confirmation of correct spelling and instant correction of incorrect spelling at the precise moment when help is most needed and can be most useful. As an innovative, largely self-teaching multi-sensory tool, it can give fundamental support to instructors whether in school, workplace, or home.

Specific Examples to Try:

1. While in the writing screen pretend that you are a poor speller and a slow typist. You want to type the sentence "Many young people have trouble reading and writing." You know how to spell the word 'and', but you're unsure of the other words. Rather than avoid them, watch your screen closely when you type the words incorrectly, like this:

Meny yung peeple hav trubble reeding and riting.

As you can hear and see, Sound-Write immediately says each word out loud and corrects each misspelling. It re-colors the misspelling and puts it beneath the correct white spelling so that correct and incorrect are easily compared. This instant context-based correction, intensified by audio feedback, presents powerful, multi-sensory signals to the mind and memory. Letting learners hear the words they type while they are typing reinforces the tie between written and spoken words. (Press Enter. You now see only correct spellings; even so, the 'blue' spellings are saved for later review in a file called 'Misspell', which is stored in the directory named 'Soundwri' and accessible after exiting Sound-Write.)

2. Pretend that it's the next after. Yesterday the student learned something, and now wants to type that sentence once again. Watch the screen as you spell the words like this:

Many young poeple have trouble reading and riting.

The six words with no 'red spellings' under them were typed correctly. Soon, pupils learn that the absence of a red spelling serves as a very subtle confirmation of a spelling's correctness. Instant, text-based confirmation, intensified by audio support, sends powerful, multi-sensory cues to memory. Immediate confirmation and correction are not only more memorable than delayed correction but are also more satisfying because they remove a degree of uncertainty.

3. Press Enter. Though Sound-Write is able to correct millions of misspellings, some nonsense spellings are too extreme and will then be colored purple, indicating that the program didn't manage to untangle the string of letters.

For instance, type "frubble" (for "trouble"). Such misspellings are beyond the reach of Sound-Write's automatic correction, so try this: Press the left-arrow key and change a letter or two (so the word becomes more like its right spelling). Then press the right-arrow key to move the cursor past the end of the word. If the letter or letters you changed brought the spelling in range you'll see it instantly corrected and spoken. If correcting a purple spelling interrupts the student's concentration he or she should come back to it later on. It will still be purple.

4. Some words in English (like 'steel' and 'steal') sound alike but aren't spelled alike. Type STEEL and press the space bar. You will see two meanings and two spellings in the popup box on screen. Click on the first or second spelling for the definition you have in mind. Type other sound sound-alike words: FLEE, WIND, FAIR.

Type misspellings like these: THAIR, HEER, RIET.

Homonym pop-up boxes take on the task of teaching by addressing homonyms in context, assisting users in remembering the difference between the confusing standards that the written language dictates for these words.

Summary: Features of Sound-Write

  • 51,000 words of basic English and Phonic vocabulary.
  • Corrects millions of misspellings instantly and in context.
  • Enables students to compare corrected spellings versus misspelled words.
  • Confirms correct spelling immediately and in context.
  • Gives users optional phonic help in a language experience setting.
  • Lets students hear audibly what they write and in context.
  • Prompts the writing process by providing tutor aids such as suggestions for "what should I type," and by asking open-ended questions.
  • Stores copies of most misspelled words for instructor's reference.

Benefits of Sound-Write

If you were the learner, you can imagine how Sound-Write protects against learner's frustrations and embarrassments. A learner's courage is lifted by the promise that corrections will be made privately, patiently, and without judgement. When the screen confirms the accuracy of a correct spelling that also boosts confidence and creates an ideal environment for learning.

Put yourself also in the position of teacher, parent, or friend who gains the advantage of reducing countless hours of pupil-teacher time investment by setting up Sound-Write to assist the learning process. This learning aid immediately corrects, confirms, speaks, and thus sends strong repetitions to the student's mind and memory.

American Literacy Council at (303) 440-7385 in Colorado

Due to the non-profit nature of the American Literacy Council's efforts, Sound-Write is now provided at no cost.

The Sound-Write Voice is powered by the Dec-Talk® Speech Engine.


© American Literacy Council.

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