mySpellingGenie is much more than just a comprehensive online English dictionary. It is a flexible and entertaining way of learning and practicing your spelling. Thus, you can use this program to help you with your English exams and tests (SAT) or to prepare yourself for high-level Spelling Bee contests. Actually, mySpellingGenie comes with various word lists that include all the words you need to learn to participate in the 2012 edition of the North Sound Foundation Spelling Bee contest (both Junior and Senior categories).
The program includes three basic tools – Add New Word, Word Lists, and the Practice Tests. The Add New Word utility allows you to create your own word list or add new terms to the existing 2011 and 2012 NSF lists. When adding a new word you are required to be connected to the Internet, so that the program can connect with Dicitonary.com and download the word’s definition, pronunciation, and synonyms. You will find four NSF-related Word Lists in your copy of mySpellingGenie – a Junior and a Senior list for 2011 and two more for this year’s contest. Each list includes between 900 and 1,000 words, and they all come with their figured pronunciation, the definition (with one or more meanings), and a few synonyms, when available. Many others also include some useful usage examples.
Apparently, the pronunciation can be provided using either a human or a synthetic voice. After browsing through more than a hundred words, I could not find one with a human voice recording of its pronunciation attached to it. It does not say how many words out of the nearly 4,000 available are pronounced using a human voice, but they are certainly not “most words” as advertised on the program’s website. Therefore, I cannot say anything about the quality of the human narration, but I can say that, after listening to many synthetic voices, this is not the right voice for a language learning application. It lacks clarity, and it is so slow that sounds get distorted.
The practical side of the program is probably the one I enjoyed most (despite the limitations of the robotic voice). It shows you batches of ten words complete with their pronunciation and synonyms. You are given ten seconds per word to listen to its pronunciation as many times as needed and to try to memorize its spelling. Then you will be asked to write those ten words with or without the help of a hint which shows you some of the letters of the word (you can ask for up to five hints for each set of ten words). You will then be presented with the results, giving you full statistics of your performance.
To sum up, I would say that mySpellingGenie is a very useful utility with a terrible synthetic voice.
- Excellent choice of word lists with various levels of difficulty
- Online access to Dictionary.com
- Low number of words with human voice pronunciation
- The synthetic voice provided leaves ample room for improvement