Three Vocab Review Sites


I’ve been a fan of Quizlet for a long time and often use it with my students as a way to drill and review vocabulary.  I consistently tell my students that the best way to feel comfortable in learning a new language is to master the vocab, and drilling sites like Quizlet have been very helpful.

Recently I’ve heard great things about two other sites: StudyBlue and WordChamp.  I decided to invest a chunk of my summer in setting up my vocabulary on these three sites.

Quizlet

I’ve always found Quizlet simple and fun for the students.  They love SpaceRace, a game within each set of vocabulary that lets them type the translation for our word before it runs off the edge of the page.  I have documented evidence that notes a correlation between Quizlet use and academic performance.  Most of my vocabulary was already added to Quizlet in previous years, so setting it up for this year was a breeze.

Final thoughts: Great games, user friendly, a must for a language classroom

StudyBlue

I came across some rave StudyBlue reviews last Spring and thought it sounded promising.  It’s much like Quizlet, although a little more exclusive.  Each student has an individual “backpack” and can join courses and share materials with any students also enrolled in those courses.  After about 5 minutes in StudyBlue, it’s easy to figure out that it is tailored to college students looking to share notes and materials with other classmates.  I went back and forth with some support people asking questions about how a teacher might share material with students and/or make vocabulary lists public for all students enrolled in the class.  I’m still not really sure if it’s possible, how easy it will be and how troublesome the sharing process will be.  I know I can “invite” students to view my list by individually emailing them, but I don’t want my students to have to check their email to access a vocabulary list through StudyBlue’s website.

I’m really on the fence about this program, but it has a nice flashcard program for both IOS and Andriod systems.  The flashcard programs track difficult words and gives students statistics about their studying.  That could be really useful but I’m not sure my students nor I will be able to get through the confusing setup phase.  We’ll give it a try though.

Final thoughts: Possibly confusing and too technical/not-user-friendly, great mobile app

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WordChamp

WordChamp is not a flashcard or vocabulary drill site like StudyBlue or Quizlet.  It is a site specifically designed for language teachers and language learners.  I created an account (free) and a course (I created three).  I can create vocabulary lists, similar to the other sites, but WordChamp does a really great thing when I put in my vocabulary.  As I added the words, I saw a little speaker icon next to some of the words.  WordChamp recognizes (most) words in all languages and has audio of those words being spoken.  For example, I put in “lawyer/abogado” and I have a recording of someone saying the word “lawyer” and a recording of a native speaker saying “abogado”.  If audio isn’t available for a certain word or phrase, you can record or upload your own.

Once vocabulary lists are created, a teacher can create homework assignments for different classes.  Students complete these homework assignments online.  There are dozens of different types of assignments, and I’m still trying to sort through them.  There are simple translation exercises, audio exercises, speaking/recording practice and conjugation drills.  There are some more options too but those are the ones I’ve practiced with so far.

Final thoughts: Love the audio options, customizable homework assignments and potential

WordChamp Homework Assignment Options
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Technology Training: Bernajean Porter


Right this second I’m in a seminar about technology with a presenter named Bernajean Porter. She’s discussing technology and the state of education in general. There are some very interesting thoughts in this presentation.

  • Technology accelerates something:  what is the something we want to accelerate?  What would suffer if we eliminated technology from our building?  Have the conversation with the entire staff during staff development.  (Teachers recognize the need for technology and “just use it” making computer lab access in demand and a strain on technology resources.  If we’re sharing technology we need to make sure we’re sharing the goals.)  
  • Technology amplifies everything: the technology tool does not change the quality of skills.  It is a tool and not a vehicle that takes you from point A to point B.  Great methods and instruction plus technology equals even greater methods and instruction.  Ineffective methods and instruction plus technology equals even more ineffective methods and instruction.
  • Reality is the leading cause of stress 🙂
  • Information Anxiety: awareness of the information you do not know; can be overwhelming.  All the pieces in education are just pieces; they will not magically come together by graduation.  Confusion and uncertainty are essential; “Teachers need to be comfortable with technology before using it” is so FALSE and can’t be done (new technology and new applications invented every second)
  • Technology shopping allows people to look more modern and sound more modern but is the result modern?  If you want a different result, you need to do something different.  Need to “do” something different –not just dress it up with pretty, shiny technology (decorated lesson plans).  It comes down to instructional methods.