Whalien Match

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About Whalien Match

The Fast ForWord Foundations I exercise Whalien Match focuses on the following tasks, goals, and skills.

Task. Match all the syllables and words into pairs using the fewest attempts.

Goal. Develop the following cognitive and language & reading skills:

Language & reading skills

Auditory word recognition

The ability to accurately identify spoken words by relying on sound cues alone, without the aid of visual or context cues.

Phonological accuracy

The ability to make correct distinctions based on individual phonemes (e.g., matching words that begin with the same sound) or other aspects of phonology (e.g., rhyming, number of syllables).

Phonological fluency

Understanding that words are composed of different sounds, including the ability to identify and manipulate those sounds in a quick and efficient manner. This skill facilitates both spelling words and decoding them.

Cognitive skills


The ability to use auditory and visual-spatial working memory to locate matching syllable or word pairs in a grid.


The ability to focus and sustain attention.


The ability to process auditory syllables and the visual-spatial locations associated with sounds.

About the science

Whalien Match presents words or syllables that differ by initial and/or final consonants. For example, the words bit and big differ by final consonant sound. For details see the content list.

Whalien Match includes Scientific Learning’s patented speech processing technology.

  • At first, Whalien Match presents syllables and words in which the speech sounds have been digitally altered using patented methods (including selective intensity increases and duration extensions) to provide enhanced learning opportunities. Initially, the consonant sounds in each word have been lengthened and enhanced relative to the vowel sound. For example, the word bit is initially presented with acoustically modified versions of the /b/ and /t/ sounds.
  • As the student progresses through the exercise, Whalien Match decreases this processing, and eventually presents the syllables and words using natural speech.

How students use Whalien Match

Whalien Match displays a pod of shipwrecked aliens (or whaliens) in grids of four, eight, and sixteen. Each whalien has a syllable or word associated with it. The object of Whalien Match is to match all the syllables and words into pairs using the fewest attempts (clicks or taps, depending on the device).

To work on Whalien Match, the student clicks a whalien on the screen. The exercise pronounces a syllable or word. The student must click the other whaliens on the screen to find the whalien with the matching syllable or word. If the student clicks a new whalien that matches one already clicked, the student must then go back and click the first whalien of the pair to confirm the match. The two whaliens are then rescued by the vehicle on the surface.

Click counter. The counter on the surface displays the number of attempts available to match all of the whaliens in the grid. Each time the student clicks a whalien, this number is reduced by one, and one of the tokens disappears. When the student matches all of the whaliens on the screen within the allowed number of attempts, the exercise awards the remaining tokens as bonus points. If the counter reaches zero before the student has made all the matches, the grid closes and the student starts over with a new grid.

Time. The timer at the top of the screen shows the amount of time the student needs to work on the exercise that day, which is based on the student's protocol. It fills in from left to right as time elapses. When the time requirement is met, the exercise automatically closes and returns to the remaining exercises scheduled for that day. If this is the last exercise for the day, Today’s report opens.

Menu. The student can use this menu to exit the exercise early, to check the network connection status, and to see exactly how much time is left to meet the day’s protocol for that exercise. To learn more see Exiting an exercise.

How students progress in Whalien Match


Whalien Match begins with a five-stage introductory level that includes instructions, modeling, and support to introduce the task. As the student progresses through the introduction, supports are gradually withdrawn until the student can work independently on the regular exercise task.

  • The introduction uses familiar animal sounds, instead of the more challenging stimuli, to help the student adopt an effective strategy before starting the regular exercise task.
  • Many students will progress quickly through the introduction, usually within the first few exercise sessions. For those who struggle, interventions will provide alternative instructions, additional supports, and a more gradual introduction.
  • Whalien Match includes the introduction level in the percent complete score for the exercise.

Tip: You can choose to present the introductions, instructions, and any interventions in another language, if needed. See Fast ForWord exercise intro languages.


In Whalien Match, the student progresses through five speech processing levels in the exercise, as follows:

  • Within each level, the student progresses through 4 sets of words or syllables that differ by initial and/or final consonants.
    • Set 1. big, bit, dig, dip, kick, kid, kit, pick, pig, pit, tick, tip
    • Set 2. buck, bud, but, cup, cut, duck, dug, pub, pup, tub, tuck, tug
    • Set 3. back, bag, bat, cab, cap, cat, gap, pack, pat, tack, tag, tap
    • Set 4. ba, cha, da, ga, ka, la, pa, ra, sa, sha, ta, za
  • Within each set, the student progresses through 6 stages. Each stage includes a specific grid size:
    • Stages 1-2. 3x3 grids of 8 tiles (4 matches)
    • Stages 3-6. 4x4 grids of 16 tiles (8 matches)


In Whalien Match, the student must meet the following criteria to advance in the exercise:

  • To advance to the next stage within a set, the student must pass the current stage by making all of the matches within the allowed number of clicks (or touches on a touch-screen device). The student can track remaining attempts on the click counter. If the student runs out of clicks before making all of the matches, the student is demoted one stage.
    • 3x3 grids. Up to 20 clicks allowed
    • 4x4 grids. Up to 60 clicks allowed
  • To advance to the next set within a level, the student must pass the highest stage. Whalien Match adapts to the student’s performance within each set, and will transition the student to the next set if the student repeatedly fails in the early stages. The set will be revisited later in the level.
  • To advance to the next level, the student must pass all sets in the current level.


The exercises use built-in, responsive technology to detect when a student is struggling and administer targeted, inline instruction—right when the student needs it—without any external resources or assistance required. This “smart learning” design helps reduce frustration as it quickly gets students back on track, where they can continue making progress and achieving gains.

Whalien Match provides a variety of in-product interventions when needed, such as:

  • Coaching
  • Modeling
  • Motivations
  • Alternative instructions and stimuli
  • Alternative strategies with guided practice

The student can receive 1 or 2 of these interventions at a time, depending on the task and difficulty level in which the student is struggling. Each one can take anywhere from a few seconds to 2-3 minutes to complete. When appropriate, the student’s progression in the exercise stops temporarily while working through an intervention, then resumes when the student returns to the regular exercise content.

Tip: You can choose to present the introductions, instructions, and any interventions in another language, if needed. See Fast ForWord exercise intro languages.


To complete the exercise, the student must master all of the skills in the exercise and reach a percent complete score of 100%. To learn more see Completion.

How Whalien Match rewards progress

Points. The exercise awards points as follows:

  • 2 points for each correct match
  • After completing a grid, any remaining clicks becomes bonus points
  • 10 bonus points for each 4x4 grid cleared after the periscope creature has reached the ship (only after 50% completion)
  • 30 bonus points for completing a speech processing level

Feeder meter. The feeder meter tracks and celebrates every 1% of content completion. At 10% complete, the meter is full, and it “feeds” that percentage into the progress meter and resets. For more on percent complete scores see the student’s Progress report

Progress meter. The progress meter tracks and celebrates every 10% of content completion. Each marker represents 10% of the exercise. When all 10 markers light up, the exercise is complete. For more on percent complete scores see the student’s Progress report.

In addition, the sea horse indicates the 50% complete point in Whalien Match. At this point, the exercise provides more fun and frequent reward animations.

Completion status. The completion status sign shows the actual percent complete score for the exercise. The score updates each time the student completes 1%. For more on percent complete scores see the student’s Progress report.

Highest streak. At the start of each new day, the exercise tracks and shows the student’s best “winning streak” of consecutive grids passed. The score appears early in the exercise, and remains on the screen throughout the day. Any time the student surpasses his or her highest streak that day, the sign updates to show the latest number. The highest streak score resets to zero at the start of the next day.

More rewards. When the student matches all of the whaliens in a 4x4 grid within the allowed number of attempts, a periscope creature pops up through the surface. As the student continues to clear 4x4 grids in the session, the periscope creature moves closer to the ship. When the creature reaches the ship, it jumps into the ship, bonus points are awarded, and a reward animation plays.