Online audio spelling test

Another homework-inspired application. My daughter brings home lists of words to learn for spelling tests. I help her practice by reading out the words and giving an example just in case the word alone isn’t clear or the word has homophones. We’ve been checking words at wiktionary and even uploading audio where a pronunciation file is wanted.

We thought if we made the spelling test word list interactive, it might be quite nice to share it with friends at school, so I knocked together a little add-your-own-spelling interface to create entries for spelling tests and some crude javascript to automate the presentation of a spelling test on a web page.


Once you’ve applied for a token and username, you ‘login’ to the spelling test editor by providing your email address and the token sent to you. For each spelling word, provide an example text containing the word and two files: one of the word spoken alone and one of it spoken in your example phrase.

I use audacity to record and edit my sound files. An example work flow is:

  1. Write down all words and example phrases in a text editor.
  2. Start recording
  3. Allow a few seconds of silence
  4. Speak the word
  5. Be silent for a second or so
  6. Speak the example text
  7. Be silent for a second or so
  8. Repeat from 4 for the next word
  9. Be silent for a few seconds
  10. Stop recording
  11. Select one of the longer silences
  12. (in Audacity) use Effects…Noise Removal to set the selection as the noise profile
  13. Select the whole recording
  14. (in Audacity) use Effects…Noise Removal to remove noise.
  15. If the silences in your recording are still noisy, repeat from 11 with the other long silence
  16. Select a word with at least 0.5 seconds of silence either side
  17. (in Audacity) use File…Export Selection to create a mp3 file like ‘theword.mp3’
  18. Select the example sound with at least 0.5 seconds of silence either side
  19. (in Audacity) use File…Export Selection to create an mp3 file like ‘theword-example.mp3’
  20. Repeat from 16 for all the words you’ve recorded

Once you have your audio file, uploading them is a simple matter of copy-pasting from the text file and selecting the audio files from where you saved them. When you ‘Update a word’ you’ll get a link like Sean:sequence which you can use to check the audio files uploaded OK and the word occurs in the example text.

Embedding in a web page.

My javascripting isn’t the best, so see the page source of Emily’s blog for the way I did it. I create a JSON object containing the username/spelling pairs for the spelling object, use some javascript/jQuery to create the rows in the spelling test table and SoundManager2 to handle the playback of the audio when the links are clicked.

To create each spelling test, all I have to do is copy a small amount of HTML and change the JSON object to include the new spellings. There’s a search facility for existing spellings – feel free to add your own and use the spellings already uploaded.

Here’s a sample in this WordPress blog:

Spelling Example Spell it! Check Result

2 thoughts on “Online audio spelling test

    1. Sean Post author

      Sorry, my articles are always so long. At the bottom of the article you should see some links which should play sound files and some boxes to write your spelling in. The page will tell you whether you’re right or not. If it doesn’t work for you, let me know which device you’re using in case it’s something fancy which I haven’t checked the page works on. It works on my PC and my Android phone!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *