Friday, 9 March 2012

Wordle- Learning with a Beautiful Word Cloud

What is it about?                                                                    

Wordle is originally created for amusement. People can use Wordle to create graphics from the text they upload. The words that are used more frequently are in bigger size. Common words like "the," "of," or "and" are excluded. People can change the font, color, style, and layout.
I tried to upload Dr. Martin Luther King's famous speech, "I have a dream," and got the above word cloud. The more frequently used words, like "freedom," Negro," "nation," or "dream," are visually popped up.

Why is it good to language learning?                                    

Wordle is like small-scale visual corpus. Showing the frequency of the use of words in an artistic way, Wordle shows its possibility in language learning. The colorful word cloud is an attractive element to motivate students to learn. The word cloud created from a text can show the theme, and the one created from a sentence can show a scrambled sentence. 

How can it be used?                                                              

Teachers can use Wordle to prepare teaching materilas before classes.
  • For young learners, when teaching colors, we can create a black-and-white word cloud with different words of colors.  Learners can color the word "blue" with a blue crayon. 
  • Creating a word cloud from a sentence can have a colorful sentence scramble, and we can ask students to reconstruct the sentence.
  •  We can create a word cloud and ask students to find collocation inside, like "make an appointment," "make up a story," "do homework," etc.
  • Using a word cloud created from a reading text, students can guess the theme and the details of the text.
  • We can create a word cloud with some key words and teach students metaphor. For example, we put the words "love," "war," "dream," "onion, and ask students to make sentences like "Love is like a war," "Love is like a dream," "Love is an onion," etc.
Teachers can ask students to use Wordle to find some interesting facts.
  • Students can make word clouds from different speech, and compare the frequently used words. 
  • They can upload an academic writing to see the word cloud. They can also create one from their own writing to see if they repeatedly use the same words too often.

What are the limitations?                                                     
  • Wordle is not created for educational purpose. There might some insulting words appearing in the Wordle's online gallery.
  • Students at advanced level, who might have the ability to use corpus, should not rely too much on Wordle to find the collocation or the tendency of the word usage.

More Information                                                                   

(These links are provided by Tilly in the lecture of ICT in ELT on 02/02/2012)

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