The Science

7spell is scientifically designed, and utilizes principles based on decades of research in learning, retention, and psychology. Here is a summary of the theory and research behind 7spell's effectiveness.

Craik, F., and Tulving, E. "Depth of processing and the retention of words in episodic memory." Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, Vol 104(3) (1975): 268-294. Print and PDF.

In this seminal study performed at the University of Toronto, Canada, the authors performed a series of tests in which they gave the study participants a sequence of words to learn, with information related to each word as it appeared in order. They discovered that when the information provided stimulated the participant's brain to process the word on a more involved level (referred to as "deep encoding" or "degree of elaboration" in the study), that word was more effectively learned and remembered. With 7spell, the user is given a wide range of additional information about each spelling word, including the word's definition - one of the key factors in enhanced memory, according to this study - as well as usage examples, synonyms, and antonyms.

Gelman, B.D., Gruber, M.J., and Ranganath, C. "States of Curiosity Modulate Hippocampus-Dependent Learning via the Dopaminergic Circuit." Neuron, 22 October 2014, 84(2): 486-496. Web.

Students who are eager to learn are more likely to remember what they have learned, something that the authors of this study demonstrate. They used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to show real-time connections between a person's curiosity about a specific topic, and the production of dopamine, the neurotransmitter associated with pleasure and the brain's reward system. The authors also concluded that a higher level of interest and curiosity in a topic or question leads to better memory and enhanced learning. Including exercises that stimulate curiosity, and providing reward mechanisms as part of the study process, also increases a person's ability to absorb and retain information, as the researchers found. 7spell has a text import feature that allows each user to include and incorporate practice material that matches their interests, while learning the spelling of words in those texts. The system also uses several different reward systems to encourage users to continue working towards their defined goals.

Garcia, S.M., Tor, A., and Schiff, T.M. "The Psychology of Competition: A Social Comparison Perspective." Perspectives on Psychological Science, November 2013, 8(6):634-650. Print and web.

Each person is influenced by a unique set of factors related to their own status and progress towards goals, but is also affected to a greater or lesser degree by the achievements and perceived standards of the people around them. This analysis of past and current studies looks at the way people view and are motivated by individual goals as well as societal achievement (competition). The authors conclude that effective use of motivational strategies must take both into account. This is something that 7spell accomplishes by providing each user with the ability to set personal goals, earn reward points, and view their own progress tracking reports, and also to publish all of those results on public social media platforms.

Kivetz, R., Urminsky, O., and Zheng, Y. "The Goal-Gradient Hypothesis Resurrected: Purchase Acceleration, Illusionary Goal Progress, and Customer Retention." Journal of Marketing Research, February 2006, 43(1):39-58. Web.

In a study focusing on the influence of reward-scheme programs on behavior, the authors found that when people see visible progress towards their goals they are more likely to increase the activity required to reach those goals. The study also confirms that most people are also motivated by receiving rewards for completing specific activities, even if those rewards are not immediately transferable to actual material or monetary benefits. Status points, rewards, and real-time progress tracking are all methods used in 7spell to encourage frequent spelling practice by awarding points for the completion of exercises and activities. Because the user can access their progress charts at any time, they will always be able to see how close they are to achieving their personal spelling goals.

Buton, M., Winterbauer, N., and Todd, T. "Relapse processes after the extinction of instrumental learning: Renewal, resurgence, and reacquisition." Behavioural Processes, May 2012, 90(1): 130–141. Print and web.

Instrumental learning, also called "operant conditioning," is a method by which behaviors are learned in connection with a stimulus, a reward, or both. In this research done at the University of Vermont, the authors studied the ways in which the information connected to a specific behavior is retained when the stimulus is removed, and how subsequent repetition or reward reinforces information recall and a resumption of previously learned behaviors. They conclude that there are two primary methods of reinforcing active memory and behavior: by creating a different way to test the subject's memory, and by providing the opportunity for intensive focused repetition of that stimulus-behavior response. These two methods are widely used in the 7spell activities and games to create the link between instruction and memory that is so crucial in effective spelling learning on the student's part.

Xue, G., Mei, L., Chen, C., Lu, Z-L., Poldrack, R., Dong, Q. "Spaced Learning Enhances Subsequent Recognition Memory by Reducing Neural Repetition Suppression." Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience 2011;23(7):1624-1633. Print and web. http://doi:10.1162/jocn.2010.21532

In this study comparing long-term and short-term memory, the study authors tested the neural activity of participants as they memorized a set of images. Half of the study participants used massed learning techniques, in which each new image was presented multiple times in a row; the other half were given the images in a spaced repetition mode, where the images were shown in alternating order. Although each participant saw each image the same number of times, the people in the spaced-repetition exercise were able to accurately remember more images, and for a longer period of time. Repetition is a key technique in learning spelling, and 7spell incorporates spaced repetition in two ways. First, the system uses randomized selection of spelling words from the user's current list to populate the activities and exercises, ensuring an interval between word reviews. Second, the system's Word Discover feature provides pop-up instant review of the words on that list, again in random order. By providing users with multiple opportunities throughout the day to read and review their words, 7spell provides all of the benefits of the spaced repetition methodology in its spelling instruction.

Blocki, J., Cranor, L., Datta, A., and Komanduri, S. "Spaced Repetition and Mnemonics Enable Recall of Multiple Strong Passwords." Cornell University Library, January 3, 2015. PDF.

Spaced repetition is a memory training tool that relies on frequent and consistent review of information; mnemonics is a memory technique that involves multiple ways of looking at that information, such as the incorporation of images or story lines. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University focused on the combination of spaced repetition and mnemonics in evaluating how best to train people to remember specific pieces of information: computer passwords. They found that by combining the two methodologies, the results in both ease of learning and retention were increased. 7spell uses each method separately and together to help users learn and remember new spelling words by using the same words in multiple exercises, presenting spelling words in a variety of formats, and encouraging users to add information related to each word to make a personal connection that helps them to remember that word and its correct spelling.


Learn To Spell In Over 60 Languages At Craig Gibson’s Website

Categories: Spelling Resources |

Now you can learn vocabulary, grammar, and spelling in languages from Afrikaans to Zazaki (a language spoken in eastern Turkey – we had to look it up, too) thanks to e-learning specialist Craig Gibson. He’s put together an amazing set of resources that provide the basic tools you need to learn to read, speak, and write in these languages, from useful vocabulary words to explanations of verb conjugation to phrases that will help you communicate if you plan on traveling to another country. Because these lessons are set up in the form of online games, learning a new language is a fun process for children and adults alike.

SP: You’ve done all the work to create these games to help other people learn new languages. In the process of researching and designing your website, did you end up learning these languages, too?

CG: Ive inputted numerous languages over several years, so little of the content remains in my memory. I did recently surprise a Finnish man (and myself) with a few words of Finnish. Whenever I make game prototypes I begin with Japanese, which I’ve been learning over the last couple of years. This helps me remember some Japanese words, which are always slipping out of my memory.

SP: A lot of the resources and games have audio files, so that people can hear how words and phrases are pronounced correctly. That’s an invaluable addition to your site. How did you find the native speakers to help you make these recordings?

CG: When I started the site I hired various language teachers and tutors to provide the audio. Some audio was recorded on location – for example I recorded Tibetan and Hindi in India. Several people have volunteered on Digital Dialects as well. At this moment I’m working with a Pacific languages institution, and they are voluntarily providing me with the vocabulary and audio for Tongan, Samoan and Niuean sections (forthcoming).

SP: You include Esperanto in your language learning list, even though it’s not the official language of any country. Who speaks Esperanto, and why should we learn it?

CG: The vision of Esperanto was to create a (semi-)universal international language, which of course hasn’t happened. Still there seems to be many thousands of speakers, perhaps due to Esperanto’s humanist and internationalist ethic. There are certainly some real language fanatics out there, and it seems to me that Esperanto is something of a social thing amongst these types of people. Esperanto is designed to be easy to learn and it’s apparently a good base for learning other languages.

SP: How can people best use your site to improve their spelling skills in the language they’ve chosen?

CG: Some sections on the website have games specifically for spelling the vocabulary provided in other games. A lot of the materials on Digital Dialects provide both native scripts and transliterations so that students can compare the two.

SP: Most of the site is set up for English speakers who want to learn another language, but there is a Japanese version of the site, and several languages also have instructions in French. What are your next plans for the website?

CG: I will surely get the site translated into Spanish sometime soon. At the moment my focus is on working with language tutors to create more grammar materials for Spanish and Japanese. I’m also currently working on new sections for indigenous South American languages (Quechua, Aymara, Guarani), and will be recording for these shortly.

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