American Literacy Council

General Help

Sound-Write is a tool that helps people begin to write and read. It can be used it at school, home, or workplace. Sound-Write will automatically correct misspellings most of the time. It also pronounces each word aloud as you type.

1. Getting Started

If you're not sure how to spell a word, spell it like it sounds. If you happen to spell it correctly, it will stay the same color. But when you misspell a word the program will show the wrong spelling in red until you go to a new line, thus letting you compare your spelling with the corrected spelling. You will also hear your words spoken in normal English style.

If one of your words turns red, it only means you typed a spelling that the program couldn't identify.

You can correct gibberish words (like Bds!!#dfs) later by clicking back to any word and trying other spellings.

Learners are expected to press some keys and type some words even if they only know a few words; just let them use the letters the way they think they might be used. There are no penalties for making a mistake. If students can't think of anything to write let them press the F2 key to see some practice sentences they can type to get in the swing of things. 

The F12 key lets teachers or students SEE each word written in simplified phonic standard. The phonics standards used in the early grades as a bridge to reading has been extended to the 51,000 words stored in this program. This feature may be confusing to some learners so only use it when it might be helpful. It can be used as a safety net, showing simplified spelling when learners are not sure how to spell a word. Spelling it as it sounds is better than avoiding the word, which is a typical (if unspoken) remedy for uncertainty.

2. Model Sentences to Type

Sound-Write utilizes the F1 – F12 keys (at the top of the keyboard) as tutorial keys. The functions are listed on the right side of the screen. Notice that you have to physically press the F keys – you cannot click on the menu list to get any results.

F2 brings sample sentences or questions to the screen.

F4 asks questions expecting that you can try to type in your own creative answers. 

F5, F6, and F7 provide exercises on vowels or consonants.

F9 is for teachers of instructors. Type in wrong spellings to see how they are corrected.

To get another sentence or question, click the mouse on NEXT SENTENCE at the top right of the screen.

To make the sample sentences disappear, click the mouse on BACK TO MENU at the top right.

3. Regarding Keyboard and Mouse

The Back Space Key: Memorize where it is. When you type wrong letters the backspace key will make them disappear.

The Mouse Left Button: After you type a couple of lines, roll the mouse around and click the left button to position on a prior point. You can re-type or erase any of your previous words. 

The Mouse Right Button: Roll the mouse indicator back into any previous word. Then click the right mouse button within a word and the computer will speak that word aloud as often as you want to click and hear it. This helps you to associate the visible letters with the sound of the word.

4. Box Buttons on the Left Side of the Screen

NEW: At any time you can start typing a new letter or document. Click on the NEW box (top left on the screen) using the left mouse button.

OPEN: At any time you can bring back a note or document that you worked on at a previous session. Use the mouse and left-click on the OPEN box (top left on the screen).

SAVE: When you like the sentences or words that you typed in, you can save them by clicking on the SAVE box (top left on the screen). You will then have to provide a name for the document, such as TRY1, or JULY18, or NoteToHarry, or DiaryPage1, or any other name.

PRINT: The computer will print your sentences on paper for your collection. Get a folder and make a copy of each document so that your progress will be visible. Soon you will have a booklet.

Move the mouse indicator to the PRINT box and click the left button.

READ SENTENCES: To avoid the appearance of only working with individual letters or isolated words (boring), you should listen to whole sentences being read. Do this often. The box marked "VERY SLOW" means that each word will be spoken separately to make it easier for you to hear each word. The boxes above that will read the sentences as rapidly as you wish.

SPELL WORDS: Move the mouse indicator back into any previous word and left-click to stick it there. Then move the mouse to the SPELL WORDS box and click. The computer will spell the word. It will speak aloud each letter so that you can hear the spelling while watching the word.

Click in to some other word and it will spell it also.

SAY A WORD OVER AND OVER: Move the mouse over any word, then right click and that word will be spoken. Right click repeatedly and it will be spoken repeatedly. This assists ESL learners who may need to hear a single word pronounced over and over, while trying to say it themselves.

5. Box Buttons on the Top of the Screen

BOLD, ITALIC, UNDERLINE: Click on these box-buttons to make the letters fat or skinny, vertical or slanted. (Underlining isn't implemented on all computers.)

LOUDER and SOFTER: The two boxes that show a loudspeaker let you make the voice louder or softer. Click them with the left mouse button to adjust them to your liking. If you can't hear any voice or sound, try clicking it louder and louder. If there is still no voice, ask some other person to make sure the sound is not muted (Mouse to bottom screen on the right; left click to open the master volume control to set the sound levels.)

SEARCH: This box-button is helpful if you have more than a screen full of sentences. Click on it and you can search for every occurrence of any word, such as HOPE, or AIRPLANE, etc.

PHONIC KEYS: Click here and you will be shown a list of letters and the sounds they represent.

The Phonic standard uses letters consistently to represent sounds.

PHONIC SENTENCES: This option can be used to show you how words can be spelled in simplified Phonic form. The Phonic standard is used in the lower grades to clarify the process of decoding letters to represent sounds. The Phonic standard uses the letters consistently to assist beginners in making sense of how each letter represents a sound (or ought to).

HELP TOPICS: Click on it to view this information.

6. Disabling Spell-Correction – especially for undesired correction of people's names

Click on the CORRECTION OFF/ON button at the top of the Sound-Write screen to stop the program from trying to change a user's spelling. For example, if your pupil's last name is Nabors and he or she wants to type it, Sound-Write will try to correct it to neighbors, but if he or she clicks CORRECTION OFF/ON before typing in Nabors the program will keep it from being wrongly corrected to Neighbors. Similarly, do the same to keep a name like JIM from being changed to GYM, but be sure to click CORRECTION OFF/ON again afterward to turn the Spell-Correction back on.

If the student forgets to reactivate it, Spell-Correction resumes automatically when he or she goes to the next line. Or, again, the student can click on CORRECTION ON/OFF to turn it back on.

7. Seeing the student's list of incorrect, invented, and 'name' spellings

Click on the words Help And Instructor's Guide at the top of the Sound-Write screen. A menu will appear. Click on the View Misspelled Words option. A text file called Misspell.txt will appear. In it you will see all words typed by the user that turned blue (=unknown) or purple (=corrected). Altho it is up to the teacher, tutor or parent as to whether this file is shown to the user we suggest that it be printed out and presented to the student in a neutral setting so that the student isn't tempted to go see what has been collected there every minute or so. If you want to erase Misspell.txt so as start from scratch with a clean slate–maybe with a new student or new session–just use Windows Explorer to access and erase the "Misspell.txt" in the "Soundwri" directory. Sound-Write will start a brand new Misspell.txt file automatically during the next use of the program.

8. How to Exit the Program

At the far top left of the screen you can see the word FILE. Move the mouse to that word and left-click on it. A new list appears and at the bottom you will see the word EXIT. Click on that word. If you have not saved your latest work, the computer will remind you to save it if you want to. Otherwise, you will be signed off and someone else can use your workstation.


© American Literacy Council.

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