Berritzegune Nagusia

Learning Vocabulary in the English Class

Visuwords™ online graphical dictionary

Question: “Who is the Messenger of Allah?”

Answer: “

A joke? Lack of attention? Sheer survival? Be it as it may, we still laugh at the answer (OMG!). Had the student thought about the importance of context or the multiple meanings of words, for sure he would have produced a different answer.

BHINEBI, Hezkuntza Marko Hirueleduna eta Eskola 2.0ren inguruan, hiztegia ingelesez ikasteko lanabesak batu eta dakartzaten alde onez eta txarrez hausnartzen du postak.

El post reune diferentes herramientas para aprender vocabulario en inglés y analiza sus pros y contras dentro del contexto dibujado por BHINEBI, el Marco de Educación Trilingüe y Eskola 2.0.

The question above is part of a peer assessment test designed by students themselves for Human Beliefs, the first of three BHINEBI units built for Secondary Fourth year which superbly suit the Hezkuntza Marko Hirueleduna.  Kurtzebarri, Allah’s electronic headquarters in the Basque Country (ahem!) and where the answer was collected by Enara Iriondo, has been consistently using this CLIL-based methodology since 2004, thus fostering “the acquisition and development of the competence in linguistic communication” [1] together with other key competences [2] in order to develop students’ digital, learning to learn, social and civic, cultural awareness and expression skills.

As a matter of fact, many of the cognitive skills and didactic strategies included in the BHINEBI units boost the above named competences and are related to vocabulary building:

  • inferring meaning
  • relating cognates
  • identifying key words
  • understanding words in context
  • grouping words by meaning
  • creating texts (audiovisual and written)
  • learning vocabulary (remembering and using it in new contexts)


  • looking up words in dictionaries

With the upcoming of Eskola 2.0, we have been testing and using some of the free dictionaries and other apps the web offers to make building vocabulary up easier. Excessive advertising and the questionable reliability of some of them are our main concerns when it comes to using them in the classroom. These risks can only be balanced by a parallel development of students’ digital competence, a critical use of the tools to avoid consumerism and inaccuracy.

However, the advantages they offer make up for the harms: they cater for different language proficiency levels and multiple intelligences, foster critical thinking, autonomy and collaboration, develop higher cognitive skills and are easily embeddable in student or class web sites.

The Pearltree below (not following any specific classification criteria) has been curated to collaboratively collect and classify free apps to develop vocabulary. So, do browse it and feel free to add comments, please. It only gathers some of the many possibilities the web offers and it needs teachers like you to team up and enrich it.

Shall we build it together?


[1] “Hizkuntzen irakaskuntzarako materialak: ikasgelarako proposamenak .” Berritzegune Nagusia. Hezkuntza Saila, n.d. Web. 26 Dec. 2011. <>
[2] “Key competences for lifelong learning.” EUROPA summaries of EU legislation . N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Dec. 2011. <>

Ibone Amorrortu

Comments are closed.