Thursday, 13 May 2010

Snaptic and Wordbook

In a previous post I mentioned how students could create their own personalised vocabulary lists by combining online note-taking apps and web dictionaries. Well, I've actually now started this with my students and have encouraged as many of them as possible to add and edit the entries as often and as much as they like. I did a few to begin with, but it's now encouraging to see that some of my students are starting to take initiative and add some of their own. Very pleased to see that. For ease of editing, I set up an account with snaptic, simply because it's very quick and easy to use, and you can use hashtags to create labels. Basically, I set up an account and then gave the username/password to all my students and now they are free to edit as they wish.

You can see from the screenshot that it's also possible to upload pictures, particularly good for clarifying exactly what certain objects, animals or types of food are. I've also helped several of them find and download the accompanying mobile phone app. On Android and iPhone it's called 3Banana, and students can sync their phone notes with their online ones and vice versa. On the phone it's also possible to directly upload a photo as a note, which is great if they see something new and interesting and want to share it with their classmates.

At the moment, I've told three of my classes about this and a smattering of other students, but I would love to get more involved. I find the idea of a huge, shared, student-created dictionary/vocab list a wonderful one. Anyhow, I'll update in a few weeks time and tell you whether this took off or not.

Connected to this, the British Council have just released an app for the iPhone and iPod Touch called My Wordbook, which is very much aiming at exactly the thing I mentioned above - a personalized student-generated vocab list. It's a very polished app, and there's a lot to like about it. For each word you can attach a picture, definition, additional notes; you can also record the pronunciation as well as have the program create random quizzes based on your word list. It's all very well organised, user-friendly and a good all-in-one place for students to record vocabulary.

A few things that would be useful to add to later versions - firstly the ability to share your words with friends, classmates and other learners. Secondly, it would be great if these apps could draw on corpus data (like the British National Corpus) or import definitions from online dictionaries to generate example sentences. Also, I hope that this will become available on other platforms as well so that more students can have access to it. Overall though, I think it's a great app that encourages learner autonomy but also takes a lot of the pain out of recording vocabulary.


  1. Thanks for the review on MyWordBook. The things you mention are all in the onward plan for the app. The development is staggered over a few stages and the version available now is very much a first step. The next release will include spaced repetition and better practise activities. Then we will be focusing on adding downloadable word packs and the social networking side - with sharing capabilities.

    The preloaded words used in this version were all taken from the top 1000 words in the corpus list.

    Neil Ballantyne (British Council, lead for MyWordBook)

  2. thanks Neil, those updates sound great, look forward to trying out the newer versions.