IntoWords Pro can guess your thoughts

“In future, we want IntoWords Pro to become more adaptive, so it learns the student’s way of using language and common mistakes, and compensates for them automatically .”

IntoWords Pro can guess your thoughts

The IntoWords Pro reading and writing program goes far beyond a mere spelling checker. When you type even just one word on your screen, IntoWords Pro can predict the next probable word in your sentence. It looks like magic, but it’s actually based on statistics.

“IntoWords Pro doesn’t know you, but it should feel like it does,” Development Manager Kristina Hussak explains. “IntoWords Pro doesn’t know what your text is actually about. What it does know a lot about is how language is used in context and how frequently a word occurs,” she says. With more than 20 years of development and a database of approximately 40 million words included in sentences – and that’s just in Danish – IntoWords Pro has enough code and data to help write any text.

The statistics behind the writing tool

The student clicks on IntoWords Pro´s suggestions to get help with writing. Based on the student’s input and the program’s prior knowledge of context and frequency, IntoWords Pro shows the student a simple list of words that could meaningfully form part of the sentence the student is writing. The list can offer suggestions for finishing a word, help with spelling a word that is being typed incorrectly, or predictions of the next word in the sentence – which may help, for example, if the student has trouble selecting the correct word order.

For a word to appear as a suggestion in the list, it must of course be in the IntoWords Pro database. For that reason, some words will never be suggested, such as brand-new words. The program is therefore updated regularly, but not just with words, the Development Manager emphasises: “In our statistics it doesn’t help to enter a single word such as ‘iPhone’. It depends on the context in which the word iPhone appears.” The database is updated with collections of texts, or “corpora”, in which the words form parts of sentences.

Finding the needle in the haystack

The list’s suggestions for the student’s text could be compared to searching for a needle in a haystack. But IntoWords Pro can help you make the haystack smaller, since you can tell the program exactly which types of errors it should compensate for, Kristina Hussak explains: “IntoWords Pro is designed to identify ‘what might be a problem’ – what the underlying error types might be – and to compensate for them when you need help.

As standard feature, IntoWords Pro and other similar programs compensate for typical types of mistakes such as consonant confusions, double consonants and diphthong errors. “But if you know which types of mistakes your student doesn’t have problems with, you can delete them from the list of errors that IntoWords Pro includes in its calculations. In the example I gave earlier, if the student doesn’t make mistakes with æ and e, or doesn’t forget the silent h, then IntoWords Pro can exclude hverdag as a suggestion,” says Kristina Hussak. The fewer errors the program has to take into account, the more precise its suggestions to the student will be.

The future of IntoWords Pro

IntoWords Pro already provides more options for personalisation than standard reading and writing tools. But the aim is to make IntoWords Pro even more adaptive, so that over time it learns your language choices and common mistakes and automatically compensates for them. You already have the option to let the words you use frequently appear at the top of the lists of suggestions. And, if you want to write about a specific topic, you can add specialist terms or your own glossary lists, for example including words from the Harry Potter books. These are shown in a separate list, so will not affect the system’s general predictive text choices – even if the program becomes adaptive.

By Bente Egelund Jensen,

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