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This will eventually be an Activity based on the 1970s toy, Speak&Spell.

The original Speak & Spell toy from the 1970s.

Initial Activity Idea

  • User opens the activity, and is presented with a skill level (1 to 4).
  • The activity speaks, using the eSpeak Speech Synthesis software
  • The activity asks the user to spell a word from the dictionary (one of four, based on the skill level).
  • As the user types each letter, the activity reads the letters out loud.
  • When the user presses Enter, the activity reads the entered letters as a word.
  • The activity compares the entered letters with the real word, and informs the user whether the word was spelt correctly or not.
  • Another random word is offered for the user, etc, etc.

Video demo

Extremely blurry demo of how the app works currently... The sound is more important than the video... <youtube>ZvYlJVfyJsg</youtube>


The code [here] isn't ready for general use yet - it doesn't use the Sugar user interface, and only uses the terminal within sugar.

  • Make sure your loudspeaker volume is turned up, using the keyboard keys.
  • Open a copy of the Terminal activity. Change to root user:
su -
  • Download the code and associated files into a directory:
git-clone git://
  • note: you might need to install git-core for this to work. To do that, type
 yum install git-core
  • Make sure the sugar-speechd and files are executable
cd talkntype 
chmod a+x
chmod a+x sugar-speechd
  • Get out of root user, and do the rest of the instructions as the OLPC user.
  • Then run the sugar-speechd speech server:
  • The terminal will appear frozen, but this is ok. It means the server is running. Go back to the desktop (Home), and open another Terminal activity.
  • Go to the directory that is stored in by typing
cd talkntype
  • run it by typing:
  • You will need to type quite slowly.
  • There is no Backspace key.
  • To exit the program, press 9 instead of entering a word.

To do

  • Sugarise the idea into something usable by normal people! I have no real programming knowledge, so all help would be greatly appreciated! Please contact me via my userpage.
  • Include collaborative elements - spelling against a friend?


The code (such as it is so far) can be found at []


The code above only uses the simplest (level 1) dictionary, and doesn't have any of the vocabulary refinements of the original toy (ie doesn't say "spell FOR, as in for me", or "spell FOUR, as in number four".

The original dictionaries are presented below, as comma separated variable sets:

Dictionary Level 1:


Dictionary Level 2:


Dictionary Level 3:


Dictionary Level 4:


Interface Words:

"a","as in","b","c","correct","d","e","eight","f","five","four","g","h","here is your score","i","i win","is","j","k","l","m","n","next spell","nine","now spell","now try","o","one","p","perfect score","q","r","s","say it","seven","six","spell","t","ten","that is correct","that is incorrect","that is right","three","try","two","u","v","w","wrong","wrong try again","x","y","you are correct","you are right","you win","z","zero"

Personal Spelling Lists

I've had a lot of fun with this activity by entering in personal spelling lists for my users. I created a custom list with abiword.

  • Open Write, then abiword. Directions for this are at
  • Open a word list by going into File then Open.
  • This will open a dialog box. On the "name" side, click on the talkntype folder.
  • Select a word list. I choose words_d.txt
  • edit the list, keeping the comma between the words
  • You will not be able to save over the original list. So do a save as in the default folder, which should be olpc. Enter "words_d" in the title box and make sure you save as a .txt file.
  • Repeat the process for the "pronounce_d.txt" file.
  • Now it's time to move the files into the right place by exiting abiword and going into terminal.
  • To do that, first I typed:
  • Then
 cd /home/olpc/talkntype
  • Make a backup file of the word list you will change. I picked word list d:
 mv words_d.txt words_d.txt.old
 mv pronounce_d.txt pronounce_d.txt.old
  • now move your word files into talkntype
 cd /home/olpc
 mv words_d.txt talkntype/words_d.txt
 mv pronouce_d.txt talkntype/pronouce_d.txt
  • close terminal
  • follow the instructions above to launch the program. Choose difficulty level 4 to activate the new words.

Other links

Activity Summary

Icon: Sugar icon::Image:Talkntype_icon_plain.svg
Genre: Activity genre::Games
Activity group: ,|x|Activity group::x}}
Short description: Short description::This will eventually be an Activity based on the 1970s toy, Speak&Spell.
Maintainers: ,|x|Contact person::x}}
Repository URL: Source code::
Available languages: ,|x|Available languages::x}}
Available languages (codes): ,|x|Language code::x}}
Pootle URL:
Related projects: Related projects,|x|Related projects::x}}
Contributors: ,|x|Team member::x}}
URL from which to download the latest .xo bundle Activity bundle::
Last tested version number:
The releases with which this version of the activity has been tested. ,|x|Software release::x}}
Development status: Devel status::2. Pre-Alpha
Ready for testing (development has progressed to the point where testers should try it out): ,|x|Ready for testing::x}}
smoke tested :
test plan available :
test plan executed :
developer response to testing :