MAGIC SPELLER - SPEAKTEX VERSION
WHAT IT IS
A 'hear and spell' program for
children of about 6-11 years, this
version of MAGIC SPELLER uses SPEAKTEX
with very simple animations of "magic
spells". The aim is to provide an
entertaining and flexible program
which enables children to enjoy
learning spellings. (SPEAKTEX.PRG V2.0
is a PD program for the ST, written by
AD Beveridge and MN Day in 1986.
Martin Taylor did the hard work of
adapting it to use with STOS, as
SPEAKTEX.BIN. Many thanks to them
The program started as a simple Fast
Basic program using its SPEAK.PRG
module, and Animatic from Soft Bits.
Not long ago I heard from Peter
Hickman that David Thomson had
contacted the STOS Users Club
explaining how to use SPEAK.PRG from
STOS. So I joined the Club and got
Issue 4 of the Newsletter. Thanks to
David, the rest was amazingly easy. I
rewrote the program for STOS, together
with its utility program. Now, at
Peter's suggestion, the program has
been adapted to use SPEAKTEX, which is
PD, whereas SPEAK.PRG is not. (The
STOS version for use with SPEAK.PRG is
also on the disk in the SOURCE folder.
If you have Fast Basic, you can
compare the two speech programs. To
use SPEAK.PRG, put it in the AUTO
folder as first item, or just run it,
then load STOS.)
WHAT IT DOES
The program uses synthesised speech to
ask the user to spell a word. By
pressing any NUMBER key, the user may
hear the word as many times as he or
she wants. There is no 'against the
clock' element. The child uses the
keyboard to build up the spelling of
the word. Each letter is spoken as it
is typed in, and the Backspace key can
be used to correct. When RETURN is
pressed, the program checks the
If the spelling is correct, the score
increases by 1. If not, the correct
spelling is spelled out and shown.
When three points have been scored, a
'magic spell' changes one of the
objects displayed into something else,
using very simple animation. Since
there are 5 objects to be changed, a
final score of 15 or more will mean
that all the 'magic spells' have been
worked. With this in mind, I have made
data files of 20 words, so that 75%
success will achieve these rewards.
But a slightly smaller file should
work equally well.
- If the HELP key (or any of the
small central block of keys) is
pressed at letter input time, the
length of the correct spelling is
shown in a box bottom left.
- Each word has (or can have) an
explanatory phrase of up to 32 letters
which will be displayed in the bottom
box when the question is put. This
helps with words which do not sound as
clear as they should, and with words
which have homonyms, eg 'see' and
'sea', 'floor' and 'flaw', etc.
- The program remembers words
which the child got wrong, and at the
end it offers the option of trying
these again, and/or of starting a new
At letter input time, pressing '*'
will terminate the test.
ELEMENTS OF THE PROGRAM
Magic Speller exists as a STOS Basic
program or compiled as MSPELLER.PRG.
To run it, you need the following
files on disc:-
- memory banks MSPELLB.MBK,
MESSAGES.MBK, & ANIM1.MBK to ANIM4.MBK
- at least one file of spelling
data, with filename extension .SPS.
ADDING YOUR OWN FILES
If the program has a strong point, it
is perhaps that it is so easy to
provide an endless supply of
spellings. The graphics, ie the 'magic
spells', do not need to bear any
relation to the words to be spelled.
This means you are not limited either
to the data supplied or to objects
which can be illustrated. Virtually
any kind of word can be used. With
STOS of course, it is also easy to
change the sprites!
The SPELLING DATA is in very simple
sequential files where each word is
stored twice - once in its correct
spelling (up to 13 letters) and once
in a version to be spoken - along with
an explanatory phrase (see above). The
second version will often be the same
as the first but sometimes has to be
rather different. You may also find
that you do not like my ideas on how
to say some words, but don't worry -
you can alter them...
A short STOS program, MAKEFILE.BAS, is
provided which enables you to create
and edit spelling files. With these
programs you can create an ongoing
series of short spelling tests for any
child, using books they are reading or
topics they are learning about at
school. There is a separate short
document giving more details.
You can very easily create your own
SPRITE FILES for use with Magic
Speller. Each animation consists of a
simple 6 frame sequence. If you
examine one of the files supplied, you
will see what I mean. Your sprites
would use the palette of the main
When Magic Speller runs, it chooses
one of the four ANIM files at random.
If you wish to add to these files
rather than replace one of them, you
should alter the program line which
does this. It is near the start of the
program and is: GN=rnd(3)+1. The
number 3 should be increased as
Jim Flewker, 11TH March 1990.