SynPhony is a browser-based program that facilitates the rapid production of literacy materials in alphabetically written languages. Being browser-based means it can be accessed from a web server OR your personal hard drive. In both cases it will display in your browser. SynPhony allows the computer to dynamically find language material that corresponds to the reading level of any particular stage in a literacy curriculum. It is unicode aware and can handle many different writing systems, including syllabic scripts. To date SynPhony has successfully been implemented in 12 different scripts (Arabic, Bengali, Canadian Aboriginal Syllabics, Cyrillic, Devanagari, Ethiopic, Hebrew, Kannada, Latin, Tamil, Telegu, and Tibetan) and almost 2 dozen languages. SynPhony needs very modest language resources for its starting requirements. The minimum requirements are a word list in the target language and a literate native speaker or linguist who can help in identifying the digraphs (or multi-graphs) of the language. This enables high quality literacy curriculum to be quickly developed for even minority languages at low cost with few human resources. (To see some existing demos click here)
SynPhony is ideally suited for a phonics literacy method, but (in the future) it will also be able to find connected text material that corresponds to the reading level of each lesson. It can be used for teaching phonemic awareness, word attack and decoding, and fluency. It can also generate nonsense words that follow the phonology and orthographic rules of the language. Nonsense words can be used for producing reading assessments, for practice reading materials at early stages in a curriculum, or for correcting reading problems.
The human brain is the most powerful pattern detector in the universe and SynPhony finds and displays the patterns in spoken and written language to facilitate the process of literacy acquisition. SynPhony can cover all the written symbols and spelling patterns that exist in a language in a systematic, explicit, sequential and cumulative manner. By finding language material for each lesson that always builds on previously taught material the student only needs to learn one new symbol at a time.
The amount of time needed to begin producing literacy materials depends on the orthographic complexity of the language. Languages with transparent orthographies can be set up in under 1 hour. For languages with more complexity the time will vary as will the effort required to find and identify the orthographic patterns in the words of the language. Once those patterns have been discovered and applied to the words the system can begin to be used for literacy lessons. Future releases will improve SynPhony's ability to set up new projects and handle non-transparent orthographies.
SynPhony currently has the following features:
- Main activity page that produces word lists cumulatively by merely selecting the graphemes. Each word in the list contains at least one instance of the target grapheme while all other graphemes in each word come from the group of previously taught graphemes. Each list can be controlled by syllable length or sorted randomly. The user can also see the cumulative word list for each lesson at any time. Experimenting with various teaching orders is very easy.
- A page that can produce nonsense words that follow the spelling rules of the language
- A story checking tool that allows you to check a sentence, paragraph or story for suitability for a particular lesson. This page could also be used to help craft sentences or stories that fall within the reading range of a lesson.
- A page that creates word search puzzles using the same vocabalary that each lesson uses. This page also lets you create a simple letter grid that displays graphemes in a grid. Both the word search and letter grid have many options that let you control the complexity of each activity.