Vol. 5. No. 1 M-1 April 2001
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The Alphabet

Protea Textware, 1996
PO Box 49
Huntsbridge Victoria 3099
Phone: 61.3.9714.8660; Fax: 61.3.9714.8644
E-mail: protea@mpx.com.au
Website: http://www.proteatextware.com.au/

Site Licences:

  1. single user license (may be used on one computer at a time)
      AUD$95 (approx US$50)
  2. 5 user license (may be used on up to 5 computers, on one physical site)
     AUD$190 (approx US$100)
  3. 10 user license (may be used on up to 10 computers, on one physical site)
     AUD$285 (approx US$150)
  4. site license (may be used on any number of computers, on one physical site)
     AUD$380 (approx US$200)

The program may be made available for the licensed number of users on standalone computers or on a network. Contact Protea for pricing estimate.

System Requirements (IBM compatible only):


Protea Textware's The Alphabet is an "interactive multimedia computer program which facilitates the learning of the alphabet" that was created for adult ESL learners by ESL and adult literacy teachers. The program is competency-based in that its objectives include helping users to attain and to demonstrate a range of alphabet-related knowledge, including sight/sound relationships, upper- and lower-case equivalency, alphabetical order, and alphabet-related skills--including matching, copying, and spelling. [-1-]

The program presents such knowledge and skills through five different learning modules (Small Letters, Capital Letters, Capital and Small Letters, Using the Keyboard, and Spelling), each of which contains a sub-menu of six units (Presentation, Consolidation, Revision, Extension and Testing [2]). The Presentation units introduce the subject matter to the user, usually through sight/sound recognition. In the Consolidation and Revision units, the same material is presented and reviewed. The Extension and Testing exercises require the user to apply what he or she has learned in exercises, including sequencing and matching exercises.


When the program starts, the user is presented with the Main Menu, which contains the various unit and learning-module buttons, the exit button, the volume control, and a progress map that visually summarizes which units and modules have been completed by the user, so that one may keep track of one's progress through the program without repeating units/modules if so desired.

The exercises included in each of the five learning modules are simple and generally serve to facilitate the learning of the alphabet.

For example, one of the skills the user is supposed to gain through using the program is the ability to recognize each letter by sight and sound and to relate the sound of each letter to the appropriate name. In each learning model, at least two units are devoted to sight/sound relationships. In Unit 1 of the "small letters" and "CAPITAL LETTERS" learning modules, the entire alphabet is displayed on the screen, and the user clicks on the letters to hear their names. In Unit 2, each letter of the alphabet is displayed one at a time in the center of the screen, and when the user clicks on it, he/she hears its name, and then it is placed at the top of the screen in alphabetical order. There are similar activities in each of the learning modules, and they all serve to aid the user in developing sight/sound relationships. The drawback to these activities is that they may be a bit too simplistic and/or repetitious for language learners who catch on quickly.

Some of the Testing units of the same learning modules are also a bit too simplistic to be true tests of knowledge gained in the modules. For instance, in the first Testing unit of each of those two modules, the letters of the alphabet are jumbled at the bottom of the screen. The user clicks on the letter of the name that he/she hears and drags the letter to a frame in the middle of the screen. The letters are then automatically placed in alphabetical order at the top of the screen. This would be a good test of the user's sight/sound recognition skills, except that the letters are presented in alphabetical order; thus, the learner could do well on the test just by having memorized the visual order of the letters in the alphabet. However, in the comparable test in the "Capital and small letters" learning module, the letters are presented in random order, thereby allowing for a true test of the user's sight/sound recognition skills.

The Using the Keyboard learning module gives the user practice in matching the letters presented on the screen with letters on the computer keyboard. The user is asked in the various activities to type the letter she sees in the screen--sometimes in random order and sometimes in alphabetical order. There is such an activity for both upper-case and lower-case letters, but the user is not required to capitalize letters with the shift key on the keyboard to match the upper-case letters on the screen. Although the focus of the module is on practicing sight recognition, which it does provide, it would seem logical for the user to be required to match upper case letters with upper-case letters, if only to practice capitalizing letters using the keyboard. [-2-]

Finally, the Spelling learning module provides exercises that give the user helpful practice in copying words, spelling and memorizing words, and matching pictures with their corresponding words.


Generally speaking, The Alphabet would be useful for an adult learning English as a second language; the simplicity of the exercises makes it appropriate for someone learning English from scratch.

Melissa S. Carr
Murray State University, Murray, Kentucky, USA

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