Vocabulary Tutor

by Melinda Green

The Vocabulary Tutor program is a simple dialog-based Win32 program which can teach any vocabulary by association. It was meant mostly as a test bed for the underlying algorithm that I developed and also to simply help me learn German. My initial results have convinced me that it is a powerful learning tool even with its simple presentation. My intent is to integrate this technology into existing commercial educational software, though I'd also be open to developing such a product around it if an appropriate publisher comes forward. To show that that can easily be done, I've collaborated with ByHeart Educational Software and successfully integrated the engine into their full-featured shareware product.

Tutor is free for all non-commercial use. For the complete terms of use along with a detailed description of the product and how to use it, please see the documentation which also comes with the package.

I believe my algorithms may provide an optimal method of learning almost any vocabulary. The underlying intelligence is in the way that flash words and decoy choices are selected over time. Through some simple underlying ideas, intelligent behavior emerges which I believe mimic and even surpass the skill of an attentive human tutor. The best way to understand this is to simply run the program for even a few minutes.

Regardless of the size of the vocabulary to be learned, the user is never overwhelmed since it gives the feeling that there is always a small working set of words which are seen often enough to be familiar. This is where the idea of superliminosity comes in. This shifting set of words moves like a searchlight of consciousness over the concept landscape. With repeated passes the entire landscape eventually becomes known. Note that there does not really exist something as rigid as a working set within the program. It is much more fluid than that and therefore much closer to the way people really learn large sets of new concepts.

Getting started

There are several useful vocabularies which you can download from this site. You can also easily create your own vocabularies. To use one of the published vocabularies below, simply click on its name. If your browser asks what you what you want to do with it, you should select "Save to disk". You should then save it in the same folder as the tutor program. If your browser simply loads the vocabulary text, you should select the "File->SaveAs" menu option instead. You may use these vocabularies freely for all noncommercial purposes.


Russian Turkish Greek-Russian Verbs Geography GRE Prep
GRE.csv is a high quality vocabulary for teaching nearly 800 of the most common words required for the GRE tests required for acceptance into many university graduate programs. 500 of the words come courtesy of Timewise Test Prepwhich offers a suite of software to assist in GRE preparation. I've added many more words and carefully prepared the vocabulary to work well with Tutor.
ESL Miscellaneous
Tutor Fonts
The "From Font" button allows you to select a font for the words displayed for you to translate, and "To Font" selects a font to use with the multiple choice translations. This is a critical feature when displaying characters in a non-Western character set. For example, the Russian vocabulary above uses the Cyrillic character set. When properly set up to display Russian script, the display will look something like this:

To select an installed Cyrillic font in Tutor, first click the "From Font" button which will bring up a font selection dialog:

Not all fonts have Cyrillic scripts. Arial is a good choice since it supports all the character sets. You can also adjust the relative size of the displayed words. The important thing to do is to select Cyrillic from the "scripts" drop-down box as shown by the arrow above. The drop-down box may only have room for two or three entries even though there are several more than than that. This can be very confusing. You need to scroll down to the bottom of that list by clicking several times on the down arrow as shown below:

If you have Cyrillic fonts installed, you will see it listed at the very end like this:

Just highlight that entry as shown and hit "OK".

If you don't see the script listed which you need to use, then you don't have multi-language support installed. This is easy to do, and you will only need to do this once for all programs and fonts you may want to use which are capable of using that script. To do that, use Start->Control Panel->Add/Remove Programs and select the "Windows Setup" tab. Next, scroll down and select "Multilanguage Support". You can then click the "details" button to check off and add the particular languages you want to use.

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