KidSpell: A Child-Oriented, Rule-Based, Phonetic Spellchecker

Brody Downs, Oghenemaro Anuyah, Aprajita Shukla, Jerry Alan Fails, Maria Soledad Pera, Katherine Wright, and Casey Kennington. 2020. “KidSpell: A Child-Oriented, Rule-Based, Phonetic Spellchecker”. In Proceedings of the 12th Conference on Language Resources and Evaluation (LREC 2020).


For help with their spelling errors, children often turn to spellcheckers integrated in software applications like word processors and search engines. However, existing spellcheckers are usually tuned to the needs of traditional users (i.e., adults) and generally prove unsatisfactory for children. Motivated by this issue, we introduce KidSpell, an English spellchecker oriented to the spelling needs of children. KidSpell applies (i) an encoding strategy for mapping both misspelled words and spelling suggestions to their phonetic keys and (ii) a selection process that prioritizes candidate spelling suggestions that closely align with the misspelled word based on their respective keys. To assess the effectiveness of KidSpell, we compare the model’s performance against several popular, mainstream spellcheckers in a number of offline experiments using existing and novel datasets. The results of these experiments show that KidSpell outperforms existing spellcheckers, as it accurately prioritizes relevant spelling corrections when handling misspellings generated by children in both essay writing and online search tasks. As a byproduct of our study, we create two new datasets comprised of spelling errors generated by children from hand-written essays and web search inquiries, which we make available to the research community