Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Vocabulary in Word Clouds

Vocabulary in Word Clouds (mp3)

Introducing Wordsift.

What is Wordsift and the purpose of the website?

Wordsift is a website that allows teachers to insert text and play with the results. When Wordle makes colourful word clouds, Wordsift takes the most used 50 words of the passage that the user inserted and brings up Google images that use the Visual Thesaurus word-cloud web on the page. This is a quotation from the creator of Wordsift:

"Wordsift was created to help teachers manage the demands of vocabulary and academic langauge in their text materials. We especially hope that this tool is helpful in supporting English Langauge Learners. We want Wordsift to be a useful tool, but we also want it to be fun and visually pleasing. We would be happy if you think of it playfully- as a toy in a linguistics playground that is available to instantly capture and display the vocabulary structure of the texts, and to help create an opportunity to talk and explore the richness and wonders of language. " (Wordsift, 2010)

By looking at what the statement made by programmer in Wordsift, there is no doubt now that Worsift is a tool for education. By what is the usefulness of this website? Below is the link to the Wordsift and steps that can be done in the website

After inserting the text, Press Sift.

On the lower right corner of the picture above is the previous page before proceeding into the current page showed. Users are allowed to copy and paste a text into a blank space provided. After pasting the text, press Sift and Wordsift will take the most used 50 words of the passage that the user inserted.

A cloud of vocabulary will appear after pressing the Sift button.

After hitting the Sift button, a word cloud of the most used 50 words of the passage will appear. There are different sizes of the words appear in the cloud. The words are clickable, and by doing so, pictures from Google will appear under the tag of the word. Besides that, there will be a visual thesaurus at the bottom of the word cloud. The website will show parts of text that uses the vocabulary below the visual thesaurus, enabling the students to understand more on how that particular vocabulary can be used in an actual sentence.

Here are some pictures of the Google images, visual thesaurus and the parts of texts:

What can be done using this tool?

There is a lot of activities that can be done by using this tool. One of the basic activity is by using the text and images to create worksheets of important vocabulary words. Students too can sort words by subject area to create vocabulary cards with synonyms. Wordsift will aid the students in finding important vocabulary words from the text, and acquire those words for their future use. Besides that, teachers or the students can make use of the vocabulary words and images to be presented through PowerPoint or Word to be share among everyone.

What i like about Wordsift.

There are a few advantages that makes me prefer this website to teach vocabulary. These advantages are:
  • Free
  • Allows copy and paste of text
  • Sort out the 50 most used words
  • Visual thesaurus provides synonyms for the word
  • Google images provides pictures linking to the word
  • Provide the example of texts using the particular word


However there are a few weakness as well:
  • Words that are useless, but is frequently used in the text, such as pronouns (name of a country, etc) is in the word cloud as well
  • The words can confusing and overwhelming, as the students need to look at 50 words in a go.


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