eSpindle Learning, a 501(c)3 non-profit started from parent initiative, won the 2006 Parents' Choice award for its website, www.eSpindle.org, a project providing customized vocabulary and spelling tutoring.
The Parents’ Choice Foundation (PCF) is the nation's oldest not-for-profit evaluator of children's media and toys, and their seal is universally respected.
Panels of educators, scientists, performing artists, librarians, parents and, yes, kids themselves, identify the very best products for inclusion in the selective award program of the 28 year old foundation.
"This is a spelling universe," writes the foundation about the website, built on a database of 95,000 words and offering personalized learning session for members of varying skill levels and goals.
Students age 7 and up, English language learners, spelling bee hopefuls and those looking to gain more confidence with English spelling conventions all receive tutoring based on what they know and what they need to practice.
"When our schools stepped away from rote, authoritarian learning styles," says Rosevita Warda, president and founder of eSpindle Learning, "the old ways of learning new words were abandoned without creating new, effective forms of spelling education. Spelling word lists require painstaking efforts by students, parents and teachers, yet the fact that learning how to spell was always burdensome does not mean that we can just forego the process – only that we need to advance to a smarter, more focused way of getting the necessary results."
Many studies have documented the link between a broad vocabulary and professional, financial, even interpersonal success. However, reading and writing skills – which, as research shows, both depend on a confident command of a large vocabulary – have been on a continuous decline, and the literacy gap in the nation is widening. "Literacy can be thought of as a currency in our society," states the National Assessment of Adult Literacy. Americans of low language skills are more likely to be unemployed, live in poverty, or become incarcerated. They are much less likely to vote or become actively involved in their communities. Those with remedial verbal skills often have difficulty organizing and expressing complex thoughts, and lose their voice in society.
While some lament the declining skills of the nation's students, others hope spell checkers and elaborate phonics programs will solve the problem. To say, however, that that spellcheckers have made study unnecessary is similar in its logic to stating that obesity is not a problem, since cars can transport us, even if our bodies can't - a statement not likely to be advocated.
Surveys comparing trends in the evaluation of resumes by Fortune 500 companies showed that in recent years more emphasis was placed on grammar and spelling. A candidate's spelling skills had a larger impact than even their grade average or previous work experience. Mastery in this area is more than ever taken as an indicator of a superior education, a hard-working character and intelligence, while those without such skills are stigmatized. Partly in response to this, the new SAT now includes a hand-written component.
It is estimated that 13% of the English language is irregular in nature. While teaching phonics and the spelling rules underlying our language are great ways to get started, there is always a substantial amount of memory-based learning required to make a good speller. "As a parent and someone who had to learn English as a foreign language, I was looking for a program that would effectively teach the writing, sound and meaning of words in easy, personalized sessions," says Warda. "I was surprised that I could not find anything that seemed comprehensive, effective, or sufficient by any standards."
After noticing how many parents, teachers and students shared her aggravation with the task, Warda founded eSpindle Learning in early 2004.
With the support from technology providers and a broad team of editors, teachers and writers www.eSpindle.org has grown into the largest, most versatile English vocabulary and spelling tutoring program available today.
Being a web-based program allows members to benefit from a program that would require 18 installation CDs.
True to its non-profit mission, every new membership is matched by eSpindle Learning with a scholarship for a disadvantaged student. eSpindle Learning also actively solicits partnerships with schools, non-profits and corporate partners.
Annual membership is $99.80, or $79.80 if paid via PayPal.
A monthly payment plan is offered at $7.98.
For more information, please contact
Rosevita Warda, President
POB 338, Sebastopol, CA. 95472