Thursday, July 02, 2009


A couple of months ago I received an email from the proprietor of SpellQuizzer software. He sent me the software for free in hopes that I would discuss it on my blog.

It's simply a program that *says* words and asks your child to spell them. Wrong answers are pointed out and corrected - and the kids get another crack at the words they missed.

BUT, the program doesn't come with a library of words. You have to compile your own lists; read them into the computer's microphone; and record them in a sentence if you desire.

As much of a pain in the butt finding my buried microphone was and recording the words is, this is an ideal program to tailor a flexible homeschool curriculum.

Not only can I enter words at the precise cusp of Prince C-Nut's ability, I can keep the quizzes current with words from other timely subjects. For example, yesterday's list had *Maine* and *camping* on it - because that's what we did last week.

The format is pretty much as one would expect. Your child hears:

"Maine.....We went to Maine for our vacation."

So not only does the parent get to choose the words, they get to put them in a sentence. This is another opportunity, like everything else in life, for edification. For example, I put *stone* in one list thusly:

"Stone.....A diamond is the hardest stone."

So maybe my kids will learn a tad more than just spelling. I have to admit I've also inserted my colorful humor a few times!

"Body.....My Mom only married my Dad for his body."

Much to my chagrin I really just started this program with my 4.6 year old the other day. I firmly believe that spelling is an integral part of what I call reverse-reading or *composition*.

My son can read fairly well, but when I ask him to spell one of the words that he's just pronounced correctly, well, he can't do that yet.

This all begs the larger question, "How important is spelling?"

Because I've seen many smart people self-deprecate with *Well, I'm a bad speller*.

Is it possible to be *intelligent* or *educated* if one can't spell?

After all, just about all of our written communication these days has a *spellcheck* functionality.

But I submit that spelling is VERY IMPORTANT.

Words are mental tools and even weapons (of self-defense only - like karate!). The more you have in your box - the more your mind can construct, destruct, and repair. So in my book one must ideally study words with great application; this would include not only precise spelling and meanings, but also origins.

I've grown to see etymology as a profoundly important subject.

In fact, note Will Durant's last line in this excerpt from Age of Faith:

By adding French and Latin to its German base, English could triply express any one of a thousand ideas (kingly, royal, regal; twofold, double, duplex; daily, journal, diurnal,...); to this it owes its wealth of discriminating synonyms and verbal nuances. He who should know the history of words would know all history.

I'll have more to say on this SpellQuizzer as we get further along with it.

[I sure hope there are no spelling errors in this post! Google's spellcheck has been malfunctioning lately.]


Taylor Conant said...


That SpellQuizzer guy is brilliant... he made an outstanding piece of software that adds value to people's lives, and then had the foresight to let you market it for him as a satisfied "customer" who never actually bought anything from him.

"Free advertising" is the best kind of advertising! It'd be nice if my company figured that out, instead of blowing thousands of dollars per unit "incentivizing" buyers.

OSR said...

Spelling is definitely a must have, as it indicates that one reads often. However, it has become a casualty of technology. I won several spelling bees in grade school, but, today, I'm in trouble without spell check.

LeMotJuste said...

Reminds me of TI's Speak And Spell I had a kid ! I just loved it ! And this SpellQuizzer is amazing. Kudos to the guy who invented it ! More importantly, Thank You for posting this. I will need to get this for my niece. Same as I got her the TalkingGlobe, from reading one of your posts !
Talking about etymology, I follow Anu Garg's A Word A Day (AWAD) which has interesting bits on etymology.
Here's the website AWAD

Also :

CaptiousNut said...


That advertising wasn't *free*.

It cost him a potential sale to me of $30.

AND, what if I ripped the product on my blog?

Given my powerful influence...that could potentially put him out of business!!!!

Note that Greg Mankiw *gives away* his textbook to professors....who'll potentially force hundreds of kids to buy his $130 textbook.

See here.

I've since heard that he (sneakily via his publishers) actually PAYS prof's to *require* his textbook.

CaptiousNut said...


That AWAD site looks good. Thanks.

Buying your niece all these *educational* toys....are you hellbent on becoming her least favorite uncle???!!!

Taylor Conant said...


"Free advertising"

'nuff said. Thanks for the lecture anyway.

LeMotJuste said...

That's aunt, not uncle!

CaptiousNut said...


Now, how was I supposed to know that?

Put a pic of your midriff on your blog like I did to advertise your gender.

Or, check the *female* box?

Glad to know I have female readers....

What does *LeMotJuste* mean anyway?

panner said...

oh boy, i've got one for you. my in-laws are in town. they were talking about home schooling. well not even that. they were talking about teaching our kid(s) things like math, reading, writing, etc. way ahead of the "curve". "curve" behind defined as the school system.

anyway, they actually said that maybe it is not a good idea to teach him all this stuff at such a young age because he will then get bored in school and have trouble.

what am i supposed to with that?

Calgon take me away....

by the way - you should differentiate with "bad spellers" today and bad "typers" because often it's just typos. unless it is something handwritten, in which case it could just be oversight.

which is another problem - just laziness.

CaptiousNut said...

Yeah, 'old coots' in general are walking blog material....but inlaws?

They are off-the-chart.

I would advise any incipient blogger NOT TO TELL their family about the undertaking.

Put it this way, if my MIL wasn't aware of, and reading this blog....y'all wouldn't be able to keep up with my posting!

[just kidding, Mom]

I don't fault people for the inability to think outside of the *system* because Big Education/Big Media/Big Government has been more powerful than most think for a long, long time.

For example, I had never even HEARD of homeschooling until I was 32. That speaks to the power of the statists to not only co-opt entire fields (education) but of their ability to control public dialogue....and public imagination.

Returning to your walking blog material....just don't even, EVER think about the fact that you married and procreated with their daughter! This is just as sanity-saving as *not looking* at your investment accounts, IMSavvyO.

LeMotJuste said...

"Le Mot Juste" is the French for "the right word".