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ABCs - Alphabet Resources or Ideas?

Started by NEWS NOW in Teaching and Methodology. Last reply by ddeubel Sep 19. 76 Replies

I guess the alphabet is our bread…Continue

Tags: children, abc, kids, phonics, reading

Top 5 Game

Started by susie silver in Teaching and Methodology. Last reply by ddeubel Sep 17. 14 Replies

Hi David Maybe its obvious to some but I'm not sure how to play and I also want to create a top 5 game as well. What is the point of it. There are always 5 answers. Do the students guess according to…Continue

Tags: 5, top

Use of L1 in the ESL classroom

Started by Evanthia Pogiatzi in Teaching and Methodology. Last reply by ddeubel Sep 10. 4 Replies

Hi people, i'm doing a research on whether is good for English language teachers to use the L1 of the students or the target language (English) when teaching in the classroom. So i would really…Continue

Tags: teaching, methodology, language, l1

Stories to inspire and teach. Share yours.

Started by ddeubel in Teaching and Methodology. Last reply by ddeubel Jun 16. 80 Replies

 I'd like to share in this forum and would like others to share, short stories that might apply to education / teaching and that will inspire. I believe stories and a narrative are powerful, whether…Continue

Tags: hodja, tao, zen, professional_development, storytelling




35 Ways of Using Word Clouds in Language Teaching

I posted this originally on my own blog here:


There are many possibilities for using word clouds in language courses. I've listed around 35 of them here with a few hints on what to do.

- preview a presentation or a text

- preview the current day’s lesson plan 

- predict the content of a text e.g. topics, style, purpose, intended audience

- predict the content of a novel e.g. plot lines, characters, genre or themes as group work

- complete reading comprehension questions just from a word cloud, then comparing answers after reading the actual text

- summarise a presentation 

- turn a text into a picture (essay, report, paragraph, article, etc.)

- identify the key words in a text based on their size in the word cloud

- expanding vocabulary (definitions, synonyms, antonyms, or brainstorm words associated with a new one, match parts of collocations)

- student-created flashcards of essential words (review, circle unknown, learn)

- discussion starter (student chooses one word from cloud to speak about)

- add to printed or online course materials

- use as a background for slides or online materials

- compare student responses (make one cloud, or separate ones to compare)

- explore a topic (students add own ideas to a question stimulus & build a cloud)

- take a quick class poll or track a poll over time (multiple clouds side-by-side)

- introduce new course, syllabus or module (provides an overview of content)

- introduce course objectives

- student ice-breaker e.g. all input hobbies, interests, future aspirations, family, pets, favourite films or books, country of origin, etc. 

- highlight the main areas to focus on from rubrics to gain the best grades

- highlight examples of misspelled or overused words in student writing by inputting their own work

- illustrate contrasting ideas (show two clouds side-by-side), such as opposing arguments in essays or articles

- research texts from multiple sources then combine them into a cloud

- ‘find the words’ game (e.g. mix academic & non-academic in a cloud & identify)

- ‘guess the topic’ game, or combine two topics in one cloud and students separate them out

- ‘grammar game’ e.g. students classify words from a cloud into different parts of speech or different tenses 

- ‘sentence structure’ game e.g. input a complex sentence or short series of sentences into a word cloud, and have students reconstruct them in the correct word order

- ‘memory game’ e.g. show a word cloud, take it off the screen, students write as many words as they can recall

- identify parts of speech (students highlight or underline in different colours)

- visual analysis of qualitative data (e.g. convert a table to a picture)

- curriculum mapping across multiple subjects

- checking the balance between course content and course objectives

Here is a multiple-lesson design thanks to http://tborash.posterous.com/designing-lessons-using-wordle:

While not a flawless design, these six steps seemed paramount in increasing students' desire to learn:

  • Students pre-assessing their own knowledge and understanding - "What does _insert topic here_ mean to me?"
  • Students using Wordle to analyze the pre-assessment responses
  • Students "doing stuff" to experience _insert topic here_ in real life - "What happens when I do this?" (this is the learning phase)
  • Students responding to what they now know and understand - "What does _insert topic here_ mean to me today?"
  • Students comparing the Wordle of their current thinking to that of their pre-assessment responses
  • Students asking the question, "Given what I first thought, and what I now think, what do I think of next?"

Without the use of Wordle, we lose out on a central piece of this lesson design puzzle.

An excellent article by Simon Thomas on using word clouds in language activities can be found at: http://efl-resource.com/language-activities-with-wordle-and-word-cl.... This includes links to several other resources as well.


- assists with motivation

- assists with thinking skills

- enlivens course content in all macro-skills

- appeals to visual learners

Places to Try:

http://abcya.com/word_clouds.htm (for young learners)

http://www.literature-map.com/ (more for readers of English lit.)

http://www.imagechef.com/ic/word_mosaic/ (has iOS & Android apps.)

http://quintura.com/ (has iOS app.)



http://tagul.com/ (each tag is linkable with a URL for navigation)


http://www.visualthesaurus.com/vocabgrabber/ (also has visual thesaurus!)


http://www.wordle.net/ (very easy to use, MOST favoured by teachers)

http://wordsift.com/ (from Stanford University ELL)

The word cloud illustrated below was prepared by myself using Wordle. Can you guess what the topic is?

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