Home > No. 39 Vocabulary learning tools

No. 39 Vocabulary learning tools (2008年10月10日)

カテゴリー: The Treasure Hunt Club
Marcel Van Amelsvoort
(Kanagawa Prefectural College of Foreign Studies)
Hello everyone and welcome back to the Treasure Hunt. Many learners,
especially in Japan, will tell you that their two biggest problems with
a new language are listening and vocabulary. This month we'll be
looking at some tools available on the Internet to help people learn
vocabulary better and faster.

That vocabulary can be any words, phrases, or even longer units of
language that learners need to remember, but for most learners,
especially at the early stages of learning a language, it is usually
just words. Teachers know that "knowing" vocabulary involves knowing
several things: the written and spoken form, the meaning, the
grammatical behavior, the frequency, the register, and collocations and
associated language. That's a lot to know! It's also too much to fit
on a small vocabulary card or a small space in a notebook, but I think
that most teachers and learners agree that just knowing the written and
spoken form and meaning are an important first step. This is why so many
learners make vocabulary cards or notebooks consisting of long lists of
vocabulary items. The rote learning that is then applied to these lists
or cards is an important part of language learning, even though it is
not much fun.

For many years, however, computer programs have been available to help
learners with the rote learning of vocabulary, usually in the form of
flashcards for rapid presentation and self-testing. Recently, many
applications have become available for learners to either download into
their own computers or make use of via the Internet. While this type of
learning should not be the only learning students do, these computer
applications can help speed up this necessary stage of language
learning. All of the applications introduced below feature flashcards,
vocabulary organization, and a printing function so you can print out
cards to take with you.

The first site is vTrain (http://www.paul-raedle.de/vtrain/home.htm). It
needs to be downloaded and a fee is required if you want to continue
using it. It can, however, be tried for free. The main pedagogical
feature is spaced repetition that allows for more successful
memorization. The program will help you to organize your vocabulary to
prioritize the vocabulary or arrange it by difficulty. You can also add
voice and share files with other learners.

TeachMaster (http://www.teachmaster.de/cms/1-1-Home.html) will help you
"chew" your vocabulary better. It is a freeware application that needs
to be downloaded. It allows users a choice of five different learning
(presentation) modes.

ProVoc (http://www.arizona-software.ch/provoc/) is a Mac-only
application that does many of the things that TeachMaster does, but also
allows users to load the vocabulary into an iPod, or share it with
others via the Internet.

And finally, Quizlet (http://quizlet.com/). Quizlet tries to combine the
rote learning by flashcards with the power of the social web. It is an
Internet-based application that allows anyone to make and share lists of
vocabulary. This can be very useful in supporting classroom learning. In
my classes, I ask different groups of students to make a quizz each week
and bring the URL to class to share with everyone. This involves all the
learners and reduces the workload of the instructor. Registration

That's all for this month. See you next month.