Google's Latest Chrome Experiment Teaches English Language Skills

By Todd R. Weiss  |  Posted 2014-05-13

Google's Latest Chrome Experiment Teaches English Language Skills

Google has again launched another Chrome Experiment—this time an online gamelike tool called "Spell Up" that can help users improve their English spelling and language skills.

Spell Up and its intriguing capabilities were unveiled May 13 by Xavier Barrade, the creative lead at Google's Creative Lab in London, in a post on The Google Chrome Blog.

"As a student growing up in France, I was always looking for ways to improve my English, often with a heavy French-to-English dictionary in tow," wrote Barrade. "Since then, technology has opened up a wide world of new educational opportunities, from simple searches to Google Translate (and our backpacks have gotten a lot lighter). But it can be hard to find time and the means to practice a new language. So when the Web Speech API made it possible to speak to our phones, tablets and computers, I got curious about whether this technology could help people learn a language more easily."

That's where Spell Up comes in, as a new word game and Chrome Experiment that helps users improve their English using their voices and a Chrome Web browser. "It's like a virtual spelling bee, with a twist," wrote Barrade.

"We worked with game designers and teachers to make Spell Up both fun and educational," he added. "The goal of the game is to correctly spell the words you hear and stack them to build the highest word tower you can—letter by letter, word by word. The higher the tower gets, the more difficult the word challenges: You'll be asked to pronounce words correctly, solve word jumbles and guess mystery words. You can earn bonuses and coins to level up faster."

Presently, Spell Up can be used with Chrome on computers or with Android phones and tablets, according to Barrade. Users of Apple iPhones and iPads can also try Spell Up, but they won't have voice functionality and will have to type in their answers.

"Whether you're just learning English or you're already a pro, check it out!" wrote Barrade. "And if you're a teacher, we encourage you to try it out in your classroom."

Spell Up is an experiment so far, so it isn't perfect and can take a bit of use to figure out properly.

Google's Latest Chrome Experiment Teaches English Language Skills

Google has been releasing Chrome Experiments often since their debut in 2009.

In March, Google unveiled a Chrome Experiment for its innovative $35 Chromecast television dongle. That project lets users wirelessly display the photos from their smartphones right onto the screen of their digital televisions. Photowall for Chromecast lets users display smartphone photos onto a TV to create custom slide shows.

In January, Google unleashed a Chrome Experiment that allows Chrome browser users to build amazing digital Lego creations on their screens as they essentially build to their heart's content.  The Build with Chrome virtual project is a collaboration between Chrome and the LEGO Group that uses the WebGL 3D graphics technology.

Chrome Experiments began in 2009, when Google unleashed the project as a showcase for creative Web experiments for its Chrome Web browser. The projects are contributed by people around the world. Most of the experiments are built with HTML5, Canvas, SVG and WebGL. The Chrome Experiments are assembled by creative developers who are using HTML5 and JavaScript as well as open Web technologies such as Canvas, WebGL and WebRTC to explore the possibilities in mobile application design, according to Google. The projects are then posted for users to try out and explore.

In November 2013, Google unveiled a Chrome Experiments project called "Journey through Middle-earth," a game-based adventure that was created to showcase Google's Chrome Experiments initiative, which combines audio, video, networking and more to show the kinds of content that are possible for mobile users. The Hobbit game was released just before the latest Hobbit film, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, was released in December 2013.

In June 2013, Google introduced a video game, Cube Slam, to demonstrate and show off WebRTC capabilities. WebRTC allows users to see, hear and communicate with each other using only a Web browser, whether they are playing a game or participating in an online video conference.

Google has been working on WebRTC projects for some time as a Google Chrome Experiments project. The technology could find its way into many other business and consumer uses in the future. The Cube Slam video game lets users play face-to-face against their friends by simply using a WebRTC-enabled browser.

In May 2013, Google unveiled two other Chrome Experiments mobile video games—Roll It and Racer—aimed at slot-car-racing and Skee-ball fans, giving them the ability to play with other people using phones, tablets and computers running Chrome. Roll It is a modern-day version of the classic boardwalk Skee-ball game that players can play using a browser on their phone, desktop or laptop computer, while Racer lets players build slot-car-style race tracks, which can then align across up to five mobile screens that are used by friends who have joined the game.

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