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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

Is there any normative that regulates the use of silver nanoparticles?
Damian Reply
what king of growth are you checking .?
What fields keep nano created devices from performing or assimulating ? Magnetic fields ? Are do they assimilate ?
Stoney Reply
why we need to study biomolecules, molecular biology in nanotechnology?
Adin Reply
yes I'm doing my masters in nanotechnology, we are being studying all these domains as well..
what school?
biomolecules are e building blocks of every organics and inorganic materials.
anyone know any internet site where one can find nanotechnology papers?
Damian Reply
sciencedirect big data base
Introduction about quantum dots in nanotechnology
Praveena Reply
what does nano mean?
Anassong Reply
nano basically means 10^(-9). nanometer is a unit to measure length.
do you think it's worthwhile in the long term to study the effects and possibilities of nanotechnology on viral treatment?
Damian Reply
absolutely yes
how to know photocatalytic properties of tio2 nanoparticles...what to do now
Akash Reply
it is a goid question and i want to know the answer as well
characteristics of micro business
for teaching engĺish at school how nano technology help us
Do somebody tell me a best nano engineering book for beginners?
s. Reply
there is no specific books for beginners but there is book called principle of nanotechnology
what is fullerene does it is used to make bukky balls
Devang Reply
are you nano engineer ?
fullerene is a bucky ball aka Carbon 60 molecule. It was name by the architect Fuller. He design the geodesic dome. it resembles a soccer ball.
what is the actual application of fullerenes nowadays?
That is a great question Damian. best way to answer that question is to Google it. there are hundreds of applications for buck minister fullerenes, from medical to aerospace. you can also find plenty of research papers that will give you great detail on the potential applications of fullerenes.
what is the Synthesis, properties,and applications of carbon nano chemistry
Abhijith Reply
Mostly, they use nano carbon for electronics and for materials to be strengthened.
is Bucky paper clear?
carbon nanotubes has various application in fuel cells membrane, current research on cancer drug,and in electronics MEMS and NEMS etc
so some one know about replacing silicon atom with phosphorous in semiconductors device?
s. Reply
Yeah, it is a pain to say the least. You basically have to heat the substarte up to around 1000 degrees celcius then pass phosphene gas over top of it, which is explosive and toxic by the way, under very low pressure.
Do you know which machine is used to that process?
how to fabricate graphene ink ?
for screen printed electrodes ?
What is lattice structure?
s. Reply
of graphene you mean?
or in general
in general
Graphene has a hexagonal structure
On having this app for quite a bit time, Haven't realised there's a chat room in it.
what is biological synthesis of nanoparticles
Sanket 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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