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SynPhony Features

Check out these pages for details on additional features.

  1. System-wide features
  2. Word Lists
  3. Readable Texts
  4. Check a Story
  5. Literacy Activities
  6. Nonsense words
  7. Reports
  8. Scope and Sequence
  9. My Library
  10. Track a student
  11. Assessments
  12. Settings

Nonsense words

Some students can benefit from reading nonsense words for specific reasons. Some students learn to read by memorizing words instead of understanding that letters represent sounds. This is important because if a student learns that letters represent sounds they are empowered to read any word, even those that don't appear in their textbooks and that haven't been taught in school. They can even leverage that knowledge to begin transitioning to reading and learning another language. Teachers can also use nonsense words for assessing whether a student has really made the connection between letters and the sounds they represent. Nonsense words will almost certainly never have been seen by a young student. So when we present a nonsense word to a student we eliminate the student's memory as a resource for recalling the word. If the student can successfully sound out a few nonsense words we can be sure that the student is decoding the letters into sounds instead of relying on memory to recall the words. This is a crucial step in becoming literate. Memorizing words as whole words can seem faster in the beginning but it is slower in the end.

Some people are philosophically opposed to using nonsense words when teaching children how to read. To them we can say: "Fine, you don't have to use them." For the others, this page is a tool to help you produce nonsense words that follow the phonological rules of the language. That means, SynPhony knows which sounds (and letters) can occur at the beginning, middle or end of a word and creates nonsense words that follow these rules. However, because languages can have very large vocabularies and SynPhony only knows a fraction of those words it is very possible that this page can actually generate real words that SynPhony doesn't know exist for a particular language. SynPhony only generates single syllable nonsense words.

Nonsense words controls

The controls for producing nonsense words include the ability to change the font size, change the number of columns, sort by a variety of different ways and limit the maximum number of words to generate. You can also copy the words to the clipboard to use in another program such as a word processor or spreadsheet. You can also store the page to SynPhony's library. You can also play a flash cards game with the nonsense words.

Nonsense words control options

To properly use this page requires some additional options to be selected in the Control Panel at the left side of the screen. The option “Show only words that have the focus letter” is for ensuring that the last letter you clicked will be used in every nonsense word that is generated. This allows you to create a lot of examples with 1 particular letter. If it is not selected you generate a lot more words and you should then sort the list randomly.

Next, you need to select the option “Show nonsense words” and leave the other option “Show real words” unselected to display only nonsense words only. If you select both the program will mix both real and nonsense words together.

You also need to select some letters which will be used to create the nonsense words. This page has grouped the letters by Vowels and Consonants separately and they appear below the Syllable Shapes section.

Finally, you need to select which syllable shape the words should have by selecting the appropriate option from those provided. These options reflect the kinds of syllable shapes that exist in the language. When you have selected the type of syllable shape you will see those kinds of nonsense words appear.

Nonsense words Flash Cards

The Flash Cards game lets you present a number of words to a student for them to read in a given amount of time. You can control how many words and how long each word is displayed.