I want to speak about an application in Windows which helps ESL students in listening and spelling.

In this paper we present a tool that is aimed to improve the sound-to-letter skill of ESL students.

In the sentence above I want to emphasize that is a computer application, can I say computer tool? what is the best word

3 Answers 3


In your sentence, "software" or "software tool" would sound better than "computer tool".

I assume that this context is the introduction to an academic paper. In this context, there are several possible meanings of "tool", including software, a paper-and-pencil evaluation tool, or even a mirror. As Will points out, "computer tool" is not idiomatic. Also, the phrase "aimed to" is not idiomatic. The word "software" means "computer program(s)", and can include anything from small pieces of a program to collections of many programs.

In your professional jargon, is "sound-to-letter skill" a singular noun that includes the skill of converting all sounds to letters? Or did you mean to use the plural "sound-to-letter skills", which treats transcriptions of different sounds as distinct skills?

I would change the sentence to something like one of these sentences:

In this paper, we present software that is designed to improve the sound-to-letter skills of ESL students.

In this paper, we present software that is intended to improve the sound-to-letter skills of ESL students.

In this paper, we present software that is aimed at improving the sound-to-letter skills of ESL students.

  • Thank you for your help, however it is a draft and now I change it to "In this paper we present software that is designed to enhance listening and spelling skills of ESL students. It achieves this goal by improving the auditory discrimination and sound-to-letter recognition skills of the students." Do you see some awkward constructions in it?
    – Ahmad
    Jul 8, 2015 at 18:43
  • Your revised text is excellent.
    – Jasper
    Jul 8, 2015 at 18:57
  • How is correct to say "software application" then? Oct 4, 2017 at 6:26
  • @SovereignSun -- You might want to ask a separate question about "software applications". Depending on the context, the word "software" can help clarify the meaning, or it might be redundant.
    – Jasper
    Oct 5, 2017 at 0:00

It depends on your audience - if they have a little bit of IT knowledge, they will definitely know that you mean a kind of computer application (especially in context), instead of a hammer or screwdriver.

Adding the word 'computer' does not make it any clearer - a screwdriver could be a 'computer tool' as well because you need one to open it up. If you're unsure, use 'computer program': everybody will know what you mean by that.


As a developer, I am constantly second guessing myself as to what to call certain kinds of programs.

I would call a language-teaching program a "tool". Tool implies a certain usefulness that is not implied by "software" or "application." Facebook or video games can be called software. A teaching software can confidently be called "tool." Note that while "computer software" is acceptable, "computer tool" sounds odd.

An opinion-based hierarchy for terms:

Software - does the most, could have dozens of uses (Like an operating system)

Application - Generally does one thing, sometimes more but generally related to the same task (clock that also is a timer and stopwatch.)

Tool - Is focused on one task (A web-browser or language-teaching tool)

These are just my opinions, hope it helps.

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