|Photo by eltpics|
Here you will find a list of online resources that I personally find useful when teaching lexis and I think would be a nice addition to your toolkit. While there are many tools on the web that (claim to) help learners with vocabulary, they often focus on single words. The tools listed below can help learners (and teachers) with collocations, chunks and patterns, in other words - lexis, and build up students’ phrasal lexicon – this is what this blog is about, isn’t it?
All of these tools can be also found in my Scoop.it magazine - click here
Table of contents (you'll be able to jump straight to these soon)
Online learner's dictionaries
Corpus and concordancers
Recording and practising lexis
CollocationsTeaching a new word? Don’t forget to provide a couple of its common collocations. You can find a number of online tools to look up collocations, for example http://5yiso.appspot.com or www.ozdic.com (both based on Oxford Collocations Dictionary) or For Better English http://forbetterenglish.com. Key in a word and see its common collocations with example sentences.
Oxford Collocation Dictionary
I am less impressed with this one. It works well for verb + noun collocations but, for some reason, if you want to look up an adjective you only get its verb and adverb partners but not noun collocates. When I tried searching for "rough" I get breakrough and borough but not rough (?)
Chunks and phrasesPhraseup*
Phraseup*, Fraze.it or Netspeak?
The advantage of Netspeak is that it provides most statistically likely combinations, which can not only help students with writing but also check their intuitions about the commonness of certain phrases. This advantage, however, is at the same time its limitation: it will only show statistically frequent combinations. Phraseup*, on the other hand, will yield more results. Unlike the other two, Fraze.it allows you to filter the example sentences by form (interrogative or negative sentences) or position so you can see, for example, if a particular phrase is more likely to occur at the beginning or the end of a sentence.
Which tool is better? The jury is still out…
Another tool based on BNC. However it is different from - or, as its creators claim, is much more than just - a corpus. It is an archive of multiword patterns that have been statistically derived from a corpus. Unlike the tools described above, Stringnet makes it possible to easily navigate from one pattern to other related patterns. All the words in the results are clickable allowing you to look up other words that fit the pattern, particurarly useful for semi-fixed expressions with variable slots. It may not be as user-friendly as other tools but its definite plus is the fact that it focuses on both syntagmatic and paradigmatic word relationships.
|Patterns with the word 'emphasis'|
|Other adjectives that can precede 'emphasis' in "place great emphasis on"|
Corpus and concordances
And then try these games:
Another useful thing I recently discovered about Quizlet is that you can easily print the set, cut it up and use it for matching activities in class.
Diigo is an online bookmarking tool which saves all your bookmarks online and lets you access them from anywhere, using any browser. You can also highlight any part of a webpage which makes Diigo a perfect tool for highlighting lexical chunks in online articles and texts and then sharing them with your students.
To find out more about using Diigo in class - see my post here
Research shows that 95%- 98% lexical coverage is needed for adequate comprehension of a text, i.e you need to know a minimum of 95% (Laufer 1989) and optimally 98% (Nation 2001) of all running words in a text to be able to understand a text. Vocab Profiler allows you to analyse a text by sorting all the words in it into the first and second thousand levels (K1, K2), academic words (AWL) and off-list. Copy-paste the text and click on the SUBMIT button. All the "difficult" (beyond the first two thousand most frequent words) will be highlighted in red. You can eliminate all proper names and run the Vocab Profiler again. Now you've chosen a text appropriate to your students' level. But hold on, what IS your students' level? Lextutor has a variety of tests to test your students' vocabulary knowledge - both receptive and productive. A recent addition is a Phrase test, based on Martinez's (2001) pioneering research on the most frequent lexical chunks in English.
A very comprehensive guide to VocabProfiler and other tools hosted on the Lextutor website can be found here
Concordle - not so pretty cousin of Wordle
You're familiar with Worlde, right? It's a tool (actually now there are a few of them around) that create funnily-shaped word clouds based on the words in a text. Its not so pretty cousin can also create word clouds which, though not as charming as Wordle cloud, serve more functions. Every word is clickable and clicking on a word brings up concordances (lines from the text where the word appears in context). Based on these concordances you can point out different collocations of a recurrent word or useful patterns with a word.
More to come:
Google Books Ngram Viewer, Wordcount and other tools