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5 Awesome Vocabulary Websites

The more I teach and study language, the more I believe in the power of words. It doesn’t matter how much grammar or syntax you may know, if you don’t have the words for a particular topic, you’re going to have a really tough time expressing your ideas. Intentional vocabulary development should be a priority in any class. There are many great websites that can help you when creating vocabulary activities for your class. Here are some of my favorites.

1. Example Sentences:  Yourdictionary.com has a great feature that lets you look up example sentences for words. It can save you a ton of time if you need to write example sentences for the words you plan to work on in class. This is also a great website to share with learners, so they can read through many examples for a particular word and start to form an understanding of the ways it is used.

Ideas for use:

  1. Use this website when making a cloze with specific vocabulary words.
  2. Send learners here to find several context sentences for a particular word. Then have them analyze the different ways the word is used and in groups search for the correct definitions for the different uses.

Visual of vocabulary website

2. Word Families: The Word Families Framework by the British Council is a great resource for finding the different forms of a particular word. You can type in a word and then get a visual chart of the different grammatical forms the word can take. This can really come in handy, especially if you have a long list of words you want to make a related activity with.

Ideas for use:

  1. You can use this if you’re making a word chart to show the different forms a word can take. Of course, you could run through all of the possibilities in your head and come up with an answer, but this can save you the time.
  2. Create an assignment asking learners to investigate a word (perhaps assign a vocabulary word to each student) and have them come back and share what they learned with the class.

Word Families in English

3. Lextutor: Although the website itself is packed and difficult to navigate, this website contains a lot of invaluable resources to help you with your work. I haven’t even scratched the surface on its functions, but one particular feature that I’m fond of is its academic word list creator. You can paste in a chunk of text, and the website will color-code the test to show you which belong to the following categories: “(1) The list of the most frequent 1000 word families, (2) the second 1000, (3) the Academic Word List, (4) words that do not appear on the other lists.” It will then give you stats on the words used in the text such as percent of words from each list. It can save you tons of time when you’re trying to pull key vocabulary from a reading. Similarly, another feature of the website lets you paste in a text to identify the keywords from that text. It will then give you a list of the most frequent words.

Ideas for use:

  1. Before using a reading in class, paste it in here to help you determine which words you may want to use for pre-reading activities.
  2. You can check to see the difficulty of a reading by looking at the percentage of words from the different list in a reading.

Lextutor Vocabulary

Lextutor example

4. Vocab.com: I recently heard about this website while at a conference. I always keep my ears open for mentions of websites that I may not know about yet, and I’ve learned about some of my favorite websites this way. This website is similar to Newsela in a lot of ways, but for vocabulary instead of reading. You can create classes and then invite students to join your class on vocab.com. You can then assign them lists of words to study, and the great thing is the website already has activities and ways for students to study the words on the list. It can also create a list of keywords from a chunk of text. It also has a live feature similar to Quizlet that lets you do group competition practice in class using students’ smartphones.

Ideas for use:

  1. Use as an alternative or in companion with Lextutor.com to find key vocabulary from a text.
  2. Assign students vocabulary lists related to what you’re working on in class.
  3. Use this for classroom vocabulary competitions.

vocab.com

5. GraphWords: Providing visuals can be a great way to engage those of us who need to see things. Graph Words is a visual thesaurus that creates a word web as a way to learn new vocabulary. You can type in a word and see associated words. The words are color coded by part of speech. You can even hover to learn more about some strands of synonyms. There is also a feature for downloading a picture. There are other sites that do this as well, such as Lexipedia, but I personally like the layout and functions of GraphWords.

Ideas for use:

  1. Print a word web for a vocabulary word you want students to understand. Have them look at the word web and then in groups have them create their own for another vocabulary word.
  2. Have students go “Down the Rabbit Hole” so to speak. Ask them to look up a word, then click on one of the associations, then click on another associated word from the new word web, etc. for say a number of 10 words. Have them write each of the words down and turn it in. Before they turn it in, you could have them share their list of words and how each word connects to the previous one on the list.

 

thesaurus

 

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