23 Ways to use Wordle in the MFL Classroom

Wordle: CV

And this is what my CV came out with in Wordle. 🙂 Click on it to enlarge.

I have spent the evening thinking quite a bit about this wonderful word cloud tool, and I want to implement it’s use in the classroom now that I will have some more planning time available as exam classes stand down. I have googled the topic of word clouds in education and came across many interesting sites and blogs. A very interesting document was this which I found after tweeting the word ‘Wordle’ – 32 interesting ways to use Wordle. Below I have written a few ideas of how we can use Wordle in the MFL classroom:

  1. Use to introduce a topic – encourage pupils to guess what they will be learning about (works for all levels).
  2. If you have an idea of what level of writing pupils want to be at by the end of a topic, you could use an example text in a word cloud as an introduction to the topic, but linking it back to the end activity or referring back to it as the lessons progress.
  3. Use to analyse the content and gist a longer written text, especially with exam or higher level groups
  4. To practise speed reading techniques for gist
  5. To introduce new vocabulary
  6. To memorise new vocabulary/vocabulary lists
  7. To encourage pupils to make sentences from the vocabulary learnt, using the word cloud as a visual prompt
  8. Revision of key topics and vocabulary – pupils can create their own or can be given them
  9. Comparing two texts at different levels (eg. Foundation & Higher) and discussing how the lower level one can be adapted to match the higher level
  10. To teach pupils how to do a presentation without reading from a sheet and just using prompts (useful for oral exams)
  11. Copy the RSS feed of a foreign news website and see what current affairs are (this idea came to me as there have been various tweets flying around regarding following FL newspapers on Twitter as a teaching tool)
  12. Encouraging creative writing from a selection of key words from a word cloud
  13. A way of noting down bullet points, but not in bullet point form eg. when commenting on pupils’ work
  14. Self-reflection on work – as Wordle makes a word larger the more frequently it is used, pupils will be able to see at a glance which words or phrases they are over-using. This would encourage variety in their work (‘range’ being a regular requirement in exams)
  15. Display posters on languages (eg most spoken) or commonly used phrases in the target language classroom or class rules/expectations
  16. Cross-curricular – literacy (words) and numeracy(frequency)
  17. See results of class survey visually
  18. Choose which words are relevant for a writing task eg. formal vs informal letter writing
  19. Prompt for word games eg. taboo, charades etc
  20. As Wordle doesn’t include many smaller words such as prepositions this could be a good way of practising them eg.input sentences that focus on prepositions, such as “the table is next to the door”. Pupils then have to construct the correct sentence as the only words the word cloud will show will be the key nouns (and any other words you wish to remove you can by clicking on them).
  21. Input target language vocabulary and English words – pupils match the vocabulary
  22. Input vocabulary and screen capture the word cloud, copy into a PowerPoint or FlipChart page. Then add images for another vocabulary game or exercise or just to add variety to text only
  23. Collate individual’s responses to questions (this could be linked to the ActivExpressions handsets that I am trialing at school)

Click on the image below to englarge it:Wordle: languages are cool

Update: 23rd November 2009

Here is a nifty trick to include phrases in your Wordle: just use ~ between each word and it will link them together when the Wordle is created. Read a blog post here on it that was passed on to my by @joedale.


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  2. I heard of another good use yesterday, by an MFL teacher in Sheffield, for y9s to show reasons for and against continuing with a language. From what I understand they put reasons for in 1 colour, against in another. You can do this using http://www.wordle.net/advanced page – you put in your phrases, then a colon, then frequency of the phrase, colon, and the colour. This is the hard part, as you need to know the hexadecimal codes for the colours. So black = 000000, white = ffffff, red = cc0000 etc (see http://www.computerhope.com/htmcolor.htm for a chart).

    Here is an example Wordle I did: http://www.wordle.net/gallery/wrdl/870625/Why_learn_a_language%3F

  3. Great post, Sam. Thanks for sharing this, lots of interesting new ideas. Earlier this year we produced Wordles on personal information topics, then mixed them up and learners had to guess which Wordles belonged to whom and why. I like the idea of using them for creative writing.

  4. Another good idea pollyglott – if you don’t mind, I will add this idea to a SoW I am working on. It is a CRAPPI activity (see other post on Web 2.0 tools and working them into a SoW for more details…..) Thanks again.


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