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The Treasure Hunt Club No. 91 (2013年03月11日)

カテゴリー: The Treasure Hunt Club
■ The Treasure Hunt Club No. 91
March 2013 Treasure Hunt
Vocabulary and Culture
Marcel Van Amelsvoort
Kanagawa Prefectural Institute of Language and
Culture Studies

It's March already, and the new school year is just around the
corner. This month for some reason, a large number of vocabulary and
culture sites have been brought to my attention.

First up is Test Your Vocab, a very simple and flexible adaptive
vocabulary level testing site that works for EFL students and
college professors. It's all done by self-evaluation―you simply
click on the words you say you ‘know.' But it can give you a rough
idea of your vocabulary level. On the last page, you input or select
options to describe your experience with English and English
learning. It's easy and fun to use and is a good way to get learners
to think about vocabulary needs. http://testyourvocab.com/

Next is a different type of dictionary, a reverse dictionary called
OneLook. You input the definition to find the word you are looking
for. It is a brilliant tool but will probably take learners a little
time to get used to. It typically returns a list of 40 plus items
that are related, so it's probably best for intermediate and
advanced learners. You can also use it just to find definitions of
single words. http://www.onelook.com/

Professor Word is a browser tool that you can use to find the
meanings of difficult (SAT) vocabulary from any web page. Just drag
the tool into your toolbar and it works automatically. Very nice,
but unfortunately only for certain advanced vocabulary. http://www.professorword.com/

If you have an iPad, there are two nice little apps you may be
interested in. Cambridge University Press is offering the Phrasal
Verb Machine for free. It is a combination visual dictionary and
learning game for phrasal verbs. Find it at: https://itunes.apple.
And if you would like something a little more game-like, there is
Words Mine, a Tetris-like word search game that's ddictive for all
levels. Free and available at https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/words-mine/id436953814?mt=8

Next, on to culture. Looking at global problems and comparing
countries is a common topic in textbooks. The web has a few
resources that can work well with such units.

If It Were My Home is a brilliant site that lets learners compare
any country in the world to the USA. It returns statistics about the
difference in quality of life that can be very eye-opening. Just
select the country you want to compare with the US. There is also
nice (but still-limited) section looking at the impact of disasters
on quality of life.

Hans Rosling is one of my heroes. His TED talks are brilliant and
his insights into the world are fascinating. Go to his site called
Gapminder to compare the development of any countries in the world
over the last century.

For something more visual, Time magazine recently featured a nice
pictorial essay. They asked families from around the world to be
photographed with the food they had in their homes. Called What the
World Eats, Part 1, it also lists how much the family spends on food
per week and what their favorite foods are.

Lastly, an important announcement: if anyone is interested in taking
a writing course, Coursera, in conjunction with Duke University is
offering English Composition 1: Achieving Expertise, beginning on
March 18. If you haven't tried a MOOC before, this could be a great
time to do so. This course should make you a better writer and a
better writing teacher. And it's free!

For more sites more sites more often, follow me on Twitter
(@Marcelva). See you next month.