We have our smartphones with us all the time, so what better to learn new words than with vocabulary apps. When we learn new words, it’s important to be active and to review them regularly. Apps are perfect for practising for short periods of time wherever you are – and having fun at the same time! Some apps have sets of vocabulary to learn; others let you add your own. There are so many out there, it can be hard to choose one. I’ve made a list of my favourite apps for learning new vocabulary on the go. (I don’t have links to these apps; they’re just my preferences.)
I love using this app with my students. You can create your own sets of vocabulary or use sets made by other people. I would recommend organising the sets by theme, such as restaurants or shopping, and writing a description for each new word in English instead of translating the word into your native language. This will help you to think in English. You can also add pictures from the Quizlet library to help.
Once you’ve created sets of vocabulary, you can test yourself by looking at the ‘cards’, playing games or testing yourself with a quiz. It’s possible to share sets of vocabulary too – perfect for learning with friends and classmates.
Johnny Grammar’s Word Challenge (British Council)
This app is excellent for reviewing vocabulary for certain situations. There are three modes: grammar, words and spelling. In the words section, you can choose from different categories, such as restaurants, hobbies, shopping, idioms, etc. There are three levels for each category (but ‘easy’ is not suitable for beginners). You then play multiple-choice quizzes against the clock. When time is up, you can review the vocabulary from that round.
The spelling mode is also a good way to check you know how to write words. Here, there are no categories; you are given a random selection of words. You choose the correct word from two options.
In addition, the grammar mode provides multiple-choice questions on grammar topics such as prepositions, irregular verbs, modal verbs, and many more.
English Essential Vocabulary Builder
The Essential Vocabulary Builder helps lower level learners practise the most important words needed to communicate in English. First, you work through a selection of words and mark which ones you know and which ones are new. You can then complete multiple-choice activities to check you know the meaning and spelling of new words. The apps gives simple definitions and examples in context, and it’s easy to track progress over time.
When you start using WordUp, you take a test to check your level. You can then decide how many words you would like to learn each day and whether you would like to see translations of words you’re learning (I would recommend English definitions).
The app then suggests words to learn. You can learn by reading the definition and example sentences. What I really like about the app is that it shows famous quotations and lines from films and songs that include this word. This is great for remembering new vocabulary!
When you think you know a word, you can test yourself with multiple-choice question or simply say you already know the word. The app will then show the word a few days later so you can review it.
What are your favourite apps for learning vocabulary? I’d love to hear about your experiences with these or other apps!