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Original Keyboard
Later Keyboard
Keyboard layout.

Rote method of learning

Obviously the Speak N Spell would teach spelling using the rote method. Our expert was emphatic that students were no longer taught using this method but used more modern techniques – learning the rules of spelling (let’s see, “i” before “e” except after “c”, etc.). After a lot of discussion back and forth on the merits of not creating such a product, that taught students how to spell improperly, Dr. Kottmeyer made an interesting comment. He suggested that there was a set of words which he called “immoral words” as they didn’t follow rules that might be applicable to such a product. He noted that these words were the ones that needed to be memorized and only rote methods would work to learn them. He also suggested that these are the words that were used on IQ tests and by knowing them a student's score would increase. This fact never showed up on the box that the Speak N Spell was sold in, nor was it used in any of the advertising literature for the product. We weren't prepared to do the required testing to prove the point. We also weren't interested in alerting the end user to the fact the product was educationally sound. We would let the parents and teachers determine the value and use that information appropriately to motivate the student to play with Speak N Spell.

Vocabulary list

In a conversation I had with Alecia Helton, she explained several of the issues that she faced in creating a proper vocabulary for the Speak N spell. In normal conversation we do not pronounce words correctly as we tend to run them together as we speak. Her example, that best shows this issue, is the way we pronounce the number "11". Here are some ways people pronounce it:

  • With an initial long "e" sound: ee-leven
  • With an initial short "a" sound: ah-leven
  • With an initial short "e" sound: eh-leven
  • With an initial short "i" sound: ih-leven

Of the four choices, the last one is the only one that is correct. To resolve the issue of correct pronunciation of words, she chose the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language as the final authority. She than arranged with the Callier Center for communication disorders, in Dallas, Texas, for all of us who would be dealing with correct pronunciation to have our hearing tested to verify we could hear the subtle differences in speech sounds. Fortunately all of us passed. In a later chapter I'll talk about similar issues we faced on the production line and how we resolved them.

A second issue that would affect the vocabulary list was the nature of many of the words the list would include. That is many of the words would be made up of a single syllable. In many cases there wasn't enough information in the spoken word to differentiate it from similar words. Our choice of the synthesis method didn't help. For example, we chose to use an 8kHz sample rate which made the cut off frequency of the speech 4kHz. This choice, unfortunately cut off a good portion of the high frequencies needed to separate consonant sounds from each other. Some examples include (please excuse some of the words in the examples):

  • Teach became Peach
  • Ditch became Bitch
  • Whose became Booze
  • Four became Whore

There were obviously many more of which I will not include. One of Alecia's jobs was to develop the vocabulary for the Speak N Spell that did not include this issue, but still was educationally sound. I'll add a quick note that similar issues to the substitution of initial consonants as shown above also occurred with final consonants and some times with the vowel sound between the consonants.

One of the system design considerations, made to help the issue with the consonants sounds, was to not design an anti-aliasing filter on the output of the synthesizer which drove the speaker. The speaker we chose was a cheap 2 1/2 inch one. Although it had a natural roll-off at about 3,300 Hz it did allow frequencies up to about 6,000 Hz. The thought was that this would allow some of the missed higher frequencies to be heard and minimize the substitution issue. At least it was a good thought.

The final issue in created the vocabulary list was our request of having four levels of difficulty covering preschool through the third grade. It seemed that the state of the art in education was that a student learned to read in the first grade, to write in the second grade and therefore was ready to learn to spell in the third grade. The "aha" moment on the Speak N Spell was that technology could make it possible to learn to spell before learning to read or write. Fortunately, it was easy to split the vocabulary list into the four levels of difficulty we needed for the product.

Questions & Answers

how can chip be made from sand
Eke Reply
are nano particles real
Missy Reply
Hello, if I study Physics teacher in bachelor, can I study Nanotechnology in master?
Lale Reply
no can't
where we get a research paper on Nano chemistry....?
Maira Reply
nanopartical of organic/inorganic / physical chemistry , pdf / thesis / review
what are the products of Nano chemistry?
Maira Reply
There are lots of products of nano chemistry... Like nano coatings.....carbon fiber.. And lots of others..
Even nanotechnology is pretty much all about chemistry... Its the chemistry on quantum or atomic level
no nanotechnology is also a part of physics and maths it requires angle formulas and some pressure regarding concepts
Preparation and Applications of Nanomaterial for Drug Delivery
Hafiz Reply
Application of nanotechnology in medicine
has a lot of application modern world
what is variations in raman spectra for nanomaterials
Jyoti Reply
ya I also want to know the raman spectra
I only see partial conversation and what's the question here!
Crow Reply
what about nanotechnology for water purification
RAW Reply
please someone correct me if I'm wrong but I think one can use nanoparticles, specially silver nanoparticles for water treatment.
yes that's correct
I think
Nasa has use it in the 60's, copper as water purification in the moon travel.
nanocopper obvius
what is the stm
Brian Reply
is there industrial application of fullrenes. What is the method to prepare fullrene on large scale.?
industrial application...? mmm I think on the medical side as drug carrier, but you should go deeper on your research, I may be wrong
How we are making nano material?
what is a peer
What is meant by 'nano scale'?
What is STMs full form?
scanning tunneling microscope
how nano science is used for hydrophobicity
Do u think that Graphene and Fullrene fiber can be used to make Air Plane body structure the lightest and strongest. Rafiq
what is differents between GO and RGO?
what is simplest way to understand the applications of nano robots used to detect the cancer affected cell of human body.? How this robot is carried to required site of body cell.? what will be the carrier material and how can be detected that correct delivery of drug is done Rafiq
analytical skills graphene is prepared to kill any type viruses .
Any one who tell me about Preparation and application of Nanomaterial for drug Delivery
what is Nano technology ?
Bob Reply
write examples of Nano molecule?
The nanotechnology is as new science, to scale nanometric
nanotechnology is the study, desing, synthesis, manipulation and application of materials and functional systems through control of matter at nanoscale
how did you get the value of 2000N.What calculations are needed to arrive at it
Smarajit Reply
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Source:  OpenStax, The speak n spell. OpenStax CNX. Jan 31, 2014 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11501/1.5
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