Saturday, August 25, 2012

Spell Checking: It's all about Context

Have you ever been in a situation where you recognize the person you are talking with but just can't place how you know them? It happened to me recently, walking my dog at the park. I encountered someone but just couldn't place him. Fortunately, he recognized my memory failure and explained we were members of a town committee. Out of context, I didn't recognize him.

Context is important. Not only in face to face encounters.

It's also important when spell checking our written work.

Google Docs offers a feature which relies on context; it's a feature which makes the use of Google Docs especially helpful for our students who struggle with spelling. They call it "Intelligent Spelling," where spell checking looks at the words in context in the sentence and offers suggestions. Many people rely on the spell checker built into Microsoft Word, but it does not have contextual spell checking capabilities.

Want to see this in action? Here's a video which demonstrates how it works and compares the spell checking features built into Word with Google Docs.

Google's Blog states:

  1. Suggestions are contextual. For example, the spell checker is now smart enough to know what you mean if you type “Icland is an icland.”

  2. Contextual suggestions are made even if the misspelled word is in the dictionary. If you write “Let’s meat tomorrow morning for coffee” you’ll see a suggestion to change “meat” to “meet."
  3. Suggestions are constantly evolving. As Google crawls the web, we see new words, and if those new words become popular enough they’ll automatically be included in our spell checker—even pop culture terms, like Skrillex. 

Time to add Google Docs/Presentations to your students' Toolbelt (Toolbelt Theory by Ira Socol)

You may also be interested in:

1. Ginger Software - a free download which offers contextual spell checking

2. Ghotit 


Rags_K said...

I completely agree that spell check for any spreadsheet tool is an added advantage, N with Google search, spell check is like icing on the cake.I have been using Google docs for sharing documents but while sharing spreadsheet data I find Google docs is lagging behind by not allowing to share just some parts of data.
Well honestly speaking this thought came in after reading about this tool called CollateBox. Have a look at this one..

Robert said...

Hi Karen,
It's a very good article. Most of the educators are not really aware about the power of context spelling.
Since I'm affiliated with Ghotit, there's some
knowledge that I'd like to share.
Google docs as well as other Google applications are not the best in context spelling. Huge knowledge-base is not a substitute for good algorithms, e.g. see the the below:
Word-2010 with context spelling and grammar option running with 4GB and more is about the same
if not better than Google Docs.
Some other links with fair comparison studies could be of your interest:
By the way, could you please correct from
"Ghot it: -> "Ghotit"?
Kind regards,

Karen Janowski said...

Hi Roger,

Thank you for giving us more accurate information and for sharing about your excellent option and the links comparing products. (I corrected the spelling of Ghotit, ironic isn't it?)


Maricar Gomez said...

Thanks a lot for a great ideas and information.. It do helps me a lot..

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