Friday, October 28, 2011

Three Vocabulary Apps for Android That I'm Testing

This morning I had the opportunity to run a couple of short workshops at my own school. Other than the initial oddness of being "the consultant" in the place where I've worked for almost nine years, it went well. The workshops I ran were based around our new school agenda of helping students improve their vocabularies and in turn improving the SAT scores on which we're judged as a school. (For the record, I don't agree with teaching to a test, particularly one as flawed as the SAT. That said, I was asked to present some tools that teachers and students could use to practice SAT vocabulary so that's what I did this morning).

One of the things that came up in the course of a conversation in the workshop was the idea of having students use their cell phones to study. And since in my district Android phones outnumber iPhones by at least 10 to 1, I thought I'd test out some Android apps for studying vocabulary. Here are the three that I am testing on my own phone right now.

Vocab Builder, built by Gordon Hempton, was the first app that I installed. I chose it, in part, because it has the most 5 star ratings of any of the apps I browsed through. Vocab Builder also offers more words than most of the other free apps that I looked at. You can use the app to quiz yourself in a flashcard style of matching words to definitions or matching definitions to words. A good companion to Vocab Builder, from the same developer, is Beworded which is a "Boggle-style" word game.

Wordalation, developed by Appulearn, is the second app that I installed on my phone. I chose Wordalation because it offers a text to voice feature for hearing your vocabulary words and definitions pronounced. I also like that Wordalation presents the vocabulary words in groups of ten. Study a group of ten until you think you know them all before moving onto another set of ten words.

Vocopedia is the third app that I installed on my phone. Vocopedia offers a very large selection of vocabulary words that commonly appear on the SAT. To study the words you can use the standard flashcard method of reading a word and guessing the definition. You can also use the Vocopedia hangman game to practice identifying and spelling the words in your vocabulary lists. I have to admit that I'm not as keen on Vocopedia as I am the other two apps, but that could change depending upon the feedback I get when my students try these apps.