Review: Hone your spelling skills with some help from Speak N Spell

Practice hearing words and spelling them correctly using Speak N Spell for Mac.

While it contains an extensive word dictionary and increasing difficulty levels, Speak N Spell for Mac's audio playback makes it difficult to use effectively on certain occasions. Its basic interface is useable, but actually practicing with it by hearing words might be challenging.

Speak N Spell for Mac starts up immediately after download. The program offers basic instructions available by clicking on the Help link in the application menu. While the program's interface is rather basic with no graphical menus, figuring it out is quite easy. Clicking a New Word button initiates a spoken word. The user must then type in the spelling of the spoken word and click "Enter," which then tells the user if their entry was correct. If they were correct, the user will hear applause. Buttons are also present for playing the word again, or displaying it if the answer is wrong. There are difficulty options available at the bottom, which are extensive and good for almost all users. The word length will depend on the difficulty option the user selects. The speaking voice is the most problematic, though, since some of the words are difficult to hear, or sound just like others with different spelling. The app uses the AI voice the user selected in their Mac's System Preferences--Dictation & Speech. The developer of this app advises users to choose either Vicki or Alex, and to set the Speaking Rate to Slow. We tried using both and found Vicki to be a slightly better option. While the application already includes a rather extensive dictionary of 47,555 words, users can add their own words, too, which is a welcome option.

While functional, Speak N Spell for Mac's features, namely the computer voice, make accurately entering spelling difficult as the spoken words sound highly digitized and are often difficult to decipher.

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