As someone who grew up overseas, spelling bees are done in written form. You are not made to stand behind the microphone and ask for the word’s definition and language of origin, which I think would have made our local spelling bee exciting and fun to watch.
While I am too old to join the national spelling bee, I finally gotten to experience how it feels to utter letters as I spell “verdure” with Google’s latest experiment on the Chrome browser. “Spell Up with Google” not only helps people improve on their spelling skills, it is also great for ESL (English as a Second Language) students wanting to sharpen their T’s and softening their D’s, as well as adults who just like a good word game.
The inspiration behind Spell Up with Google came from Xavier Barrade, the creative lead at Google’s London-based Creative Lab. Growing up in France, he spent a lot of time improving his English and thought there has to be a way for technology to help people learn the language as well as improve on their spelling skills.
The game involves building a tower of words as you spell them correctly using your computer’s microphone. Utter a single wrong letter and the whole tower collapses. Not only it asks you to spell a certain word, but also unjumble letters, fill in missing letters, and even pronounce the whole word.
At first, it takes some learning curve. The game mistook my T as a D, and it interpreted my pronounciation of “ulna” as “owner.” Others who have tried the game claimed the system eventually recognizes your speech, so hopefully the game would not mistake my R as an I (weird, I know).