ICT related news and ideas

Archive for January, 2007

Word Champ

Wordchamp.com is a languages website with huge potential to help out in a variety of classroom contexts at different levels – plus, it lends itself really well to the interactive whiteboard. I know that some of you are already aware of the site and its potential, but for those of you not yet in the know, here are one or two ideas about how it might help.

The really clever element of the site is the Web Reader, which you access by clicking on the bit that says Read Foreign Websites. Doing so takes you here. You are guided through what you need to do, which is to select the language of the website, the language you want to see definitions in, and to paste in the address of the page you want to analyse. You can also paste in chunks of text, but it doesn’t like more than a sentence or two, in my experience. Click on Read and …..

….. at first you think nothing has happened, as you just see the chosen web page. But ….. if you hover the cursor over a word, it highlights it and pulls up a little box with possible meanings and audio files in both languages. So the beauty of this tool is that it doesn’t attempt to translate the page for you – or, more realistically, the student – but offers help with the trickier words. A great way of allowing students to access material they might otherwise find beyond them.

But, here’s the really clever bit. If you click on the word or its definition in the box, it will then be added to a vocabulary list in another little box up in the top right hand corner, so that, after studying the page, you can do a little test on the words you’ve looked up – from or into the foreign language and with or without audio files. If you or a student has registered on the site [which is free] you can save the vocabulary lists for later use.

Absolutely brilliant. Registration also allows you as a teacher to create vocabulary lists and tests on different topics. To be honest, although I have registered, I haven’t got as far as doing that, though it looks to be a useful tool.

The other feature of the site which I’ve used successfully is the the verb charts – right at the bottom of the home page there are links to lists in French, German, Spanish and Italian. Clicking on French, for example, takes you here. Quite a choice, as you can see. Click on a specific verb and you get a page with all the tenses and moods.

There are a couple of ways you can use this. Say you are learning or revising the Imperfect tense. You can get the class to pick a letter, then a verb beginning with that letter, then a subject. Your victim gives their version, which you check by clicking on the infinitive. They delight in choosing the most obscure verbs – so zieuter, for example, might be a popular choice. A terrific way of expanding the horizons of their vocabulary! And, again, there are sound files – for the infinitives and definitions. The other way is to choose your verb by clicking on the infinitive, then at the top left of the page for that verb click on Click here to practice conjugating this verb. You can then choose a tense or mood, and hey presto it will run a little test for you.

Both the Web Reader and the verb lists can work well in the classroom at different levels of learning, and they are also useful tools for individual use by students for wider reading and for practice and reinforcement.

The site, as I’ve said, offers scope for much more than I’ve so far got out of it. So, if anyone has made more extensive use of it, please share your experience!