Monday, March 12, 2012


What is Wordle?

Wordle is a website for creating 'word clouds' from the texts which are inserted. This tool is more or less similar to WordSift but Wordsift only shows the 50 most frequent words appear in the texts inserted. Wordle, on the other hand, allows us to decide on the maximum number of words that appears in the word cloud.

How can teachers use Wordle?

Teachers may use this tool to in a reading lesson to students of different age, from primary school students to secondary school students, with different levels of English. I have provided here with an example of word cloud from the text called the 'The Dragon Rock' by Ellena Ashley.

The word appears in the biggest font size, which is 'Dragon', shows that the word appears the most in the text, followed by words like 'children', and 'like'. The smaller the word is, the less frequent it appears in the text. 

The font, the layout, and the colour of the clouds can also be edited. Here are some of the examples. 

For more information on how to use Wordle, you can check out Russell Stannard's website.

Teachers may use Wordle for activities like previewing text in a reading lesson in the pre-reading stage to get students get an overview of what the text is about. It may also help in generating students' interest towards the text as well as activating students' schemata. It is also important for students to be introduced to to the vocabulary in the text by allowing them to see the words that they may or may not be familiar with. 

Students may also work individually or in pairs and discuss about what the text is about by just looking at the Wordle. This may encourage speaking among students and students may then be asked to share their ideas with the rest of the class.

Other than that, teachers may also ask students to type a short story and make a Wordle using their stories. Students will the be paired up and students will be given the Wordle of the pair and guess the story that their partners have written.

What I like about Wordle...
  1. The font, the layout, and the colour of your clouds can be edited. More interesting.
  2. It can be printed out to be used in class.
  3. Can be saved into gallery, but once it is saved, it will go public.
  4. Introducing vocabulary to students.
  5. The maximum number of words can be decided.
  6. Can remove words which are not in English or any words that are not wanted.
  7. Can be used to practice multiple skills (reading, writing, and speaking)
  8. Very nice visual texts! 
What I dislike about Wordle...
  1. Your clouds will go public once you save it. Not private. 
  2. Small words are sometimes too small to be read.

National Film and Sound Archive, Australia (NFSA)

What is NFSA?

The National Film and Sound Archive (NFSA) is an audiovisual archive which stores thousands of videos and clips available for streaming and downloading. The NFSA is responsible for developing, preserving, maintaining, promoting, and providing access to a national collection of audiovisual materials and related items. Under the tab 'learning', there are lots of digital learning resources which can be used for language learning.

How can teachers use NFSA?

Teachers may use this website in teaching language by incorporating some content in the lesson. For example, teachers may use the video 'On the rails: Exploring Australia by Train'. Other than learning language, students get to know about the history of the Australian railway. For this activity, students may click and go straight to teh activity while teachers are provided with a guide by clicking on 'Are you a teacher?'. Other than that, if you are only interested in watching the videos, there is a button which brings you to all the videos.

In this activity, students are to listen to the description and the history of the rails. After that, they are required to watch a video clip and answer questions at the end of the clip. The activity goes on the same way in which students will listen to description, watch videos, and answer questions. 

Teachers may also use related videos for pre-reading activities in order to activate students' schemata and to provide background knowledge to students. In addition, it may also be suitable to introduce particular vocabulary to students before their reading activities. 

In a listening lesson, teachers may use this video for the listening activity and get students to answer some questions based on the video. 

What I like about NFSA...
  1. Teacher can print the guideline for teachers.
  2. Balance of audio and visual.
  3. It promotes content and language integrated learning (CLIL).
  4. Wide range of videos from arts, history, to biography.
  5. Allow students to practise listening, writing, and perhaps speaking.
  6. Provides variety to language teaching and learning.
  7. Easy to search for topics. 

What I dislike about NFSA...
  1. No control of the audio and video. We have to listen until it finished in order to move on to the next activity and we cannot skip it. 
  2. Most of the videos are about Australia. Therefore, may not be appropriate for students from different context. Teachers need to first give background information to students.
  3. Students may get bored watching several videos in one lesson.

Click n Learn

What is clicknlearn?

ClicknLearn is a Spanish website which is developed to support English language learners. Teachers and students can find lots of language activities to suit their age and level of English. Most of the language activities are accompanied by colourful images and very visual, and some come with sounds. There will also be a series of five to six different activities and games in each of the topics once you click it.

How can teachers use clicknlearn?

As mentioned before, this site has activities for various groups of learners. Therefore, I believe it is suitable to be used for English language learners of all levels as there are activities for learners with different levels of English. Teachers may use clicknlearn to present new sets of vocabulary to students, teaching grammar, functions, as well as to reinforce what students have learnt in the classroom. In each of the activity, mostly, the new language items which are related to the topics chosen will be presented in the beginning of the activity.

Clicknlearn is also suitable for autonomous learning in which students can use this website during their own free time at home. Students may choose activities that suit their age and level and learn the language themselves. 

For teachers or students who would like to know more on how to use clicknlearn, you can watch this video by Russell Stannard.

What I like about clicknlearn...

  1. Lots, and I mean LOTS of activities for learners. And lots of language games!
  2. Very organised in terms of the categories of activities for learners of different age and level of English.
  3. Clear topics.
  4. The activities cover multiple skills (reading, listening, spelling, writing, pronunciation).
  5. More to drilling when it comes to learning vocabulary.
  6. Some activities provide context to students.
  7. The activities or the handouts can be printed.
  8. No need to set up an account.
  9. It's FREE!
  10. It is interactive. Keep the students focus on what they are doing.

What I dislike about clicknlearn...

  1. The teacher's guide and student's guide are in Spanish, and most of the instructions are in Spanish as well.
  2. Too fancy, with the 'unneeded' sound effects at the beginning of the page.
  3. Some activities do not have a 'back' button in case students need to look at the previous slides.
  4. Some activities do not have 'next' button and students have to complete the activity on a page before moving on. Cannot skip. Therefore, lack of control.
  5. Some feedback or games are too wordy and too lengthy. Students may not read them.


What is WordSift?

WordSift is a useful website to support not only English language learners but also learners of other languages. This tool allows teachers to insert text and play with the results. It is a bit similar to Wordle which makes word clouds out of a text. WordSift, on the other hand, shows the 50 most used words of the inserted text .

How can teachers use WordSift?

Based on the 50 most used words of a text, teachers may sort the words into several options provided, which are, 'common to rare',  'rare to common', 'A to Z', and 'Z to A'.  I have provided here with an example of a text which has been sifted using Wordsift. The text is called 'The Dragon Rock' by Ellena Ashley.

The words appear in a bigger font size shows the frequency of the words appear in the text. Therefore, in 'The Dragon Rock', it shows that the word 'Dragon' appears the most frequent in the text followed by 'child', and 'water'. The smallest word font shows the less frequent the word appears in the passage. The words are also sorted from A to Z.

The image below shows the words are sorted by clicking on 'Common to Rare' in which the words are arranged based on the how common they appear in the English language. Therefore, as teachers, we may need to introduce the words which are less common if we were to use the text with our students.

Another interesting thing about this tool is that it allows students or teachers to check on the meaning of the words. Once they click the word, at the slight bottom right of the page, the Visual Thesaurus will show other words that are related to the word searched, including the synonyms and antonyms. The tool also shows students where the word is found in the texts, hence, the students may see how the word is used. Other than that, WordSift will also automatically search for related pictures of the word 'dragon' or any words which are clicked. 

For more information on how to use WordSift, you can watch the video by Russell Stannard.

I believe this tool is suitable for students of all levels of English in which teachers may choose suitable text to be sifted based on the students level and age. Teachers may use this tool for reading lesson in which long texts can be sifted for previewing text stage. Teachers may get the students to throw some ideas on what the text is about and guess the story. Students may also be asked to work in pairs and write a short synopsis of what they think the story might be.

Teachers may also use WordSift to introduce vocabulary to students in which students may be asked to discuss the relation of the words in Visual Thesaurus. Another activity that can be done in class could be asking students in pairs of in groups to decide on which pictures/images from the Google Image Search that best describe the particular words in the text.

In addition, teachers may ask students to work in groups to construct new sentences in the Workspace. Teachers can make it as a competition in which groups which write the most sentences win. It gives a variety to writing lesson. Not just the words can be dragged into the Workspace, but also the images from Google Image Search.

What I like about WordSift...

  1. Yes, it's FREE and we just love it when things are free!
  2. It makes READING texts FUN!!
  3. Useful to encourage and accommodate students' Multiple Intelligence. Some students may be good in visual rather than just words. 
  4. Introduce new vocabulary sets to students.
  5. Can cater students with different levels of English.
  6. Can also be used for teaching other languages.
  7. May help students in writing because there are examples of how to use the words which are taken from the text sifted.
  8. A variety in writing lesson (Workspace.)
  9. Encourage creativity.
  10. Shows only 50 words.
What I dislike about WordSift...
  1. The word clouds cannot be printed. You have to print the whole page.
  2. Too many parts in the webpage. Students can be distracted as too much information is cramped in the page.
  3. Facilities. Schools or students who do not have access to computers and the internet will not be able to use the tool.
  4. The images from Google search may not be filtered. Teachers have no control.
  5. Cannot control the maximum number of words appear in the clouds.
  6. The word clouds appear cannot be edited in terms of font or layout