Scratch your own itch

Chat Correct
Chat Correct - automatically color-code, annotate, and categorize sentence errors

“Scratch your own itch” - it’s probably one of the most overused phrases echoed amongst startups and budding entrepreneurs.

Regardless, despite its cliched status, I can’t help but tell my own scratch your itch story of one of our features in Ambiki called Chat Correct.

Years back, while teaching English to Japanese adults via Skype, I encountered a persistent hurdle with a particular student. Despite my corrective efforts, the student habitually omitted articles like “a” and “the” when speaking. No matter how I emphasized the omitted words vocally, his repetitive mistakes prevailed. (Side note: This is a common issue faced by English language learners, particularly from languages that do not use articles, such as Japanese.)

I needed a visual aid. Even when I tried typing it into Skype and having him read it back, he still omitted the words. Complicating the matter, Skype chat at that time only supported plain text so I had no way to bold or color the words I wanted him to focus on.

Motivated, I decided to build the tool that I so desperately sought. A way to take a sentence with an error, add the corrected sentence, and have the software UI automatically annotate the issues using color. Omitted words, spelling mistakes, grammar mistakes, missing or incorrect punctuation, the whole nine yards.

Thus, Chat Correct was conceived, which we later integrated into Ambiki’s teletherapy chat. Although it wasn’t completed in time to assist that particular student, it’s gratifying to witness SLPs employing it, especially with their middle and high school-aged language patients.