Sunday, June 28, 2009

I have a hunch

Hunch.com is a new site that has nothing to do with teaching English at first sight. Come to think of it, not even at second sight. But if you're an English teacher, you look at websites from a different angle - you tend to somewhat disregard their original purpose and try to come up with ways of using them in your teaching. With Hunch.com, this is fairly easy, since it is a typical Web 2.0 site and so it is about you, the user - just like a good language learning activity should be about the learner. Hunch.com helps with decisions the social web way, using the collective knowledge of their user base. After establishing your preferences, you can get answers to questions like "What's the best dog breed for me?", "Which URL shortening service should I use?", or "Which cheese would I enjoy?" Your students will be eager to compare their results and will most probably suggest questions to each other - a truly communicative activity; the format you set for this is up to you. Of course, site users can also add their own questions and start new topics - an excellent way to improve writing skills, needless to say.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Measuring the difficulty of vocabulary in a text

The Oxford 3000 Text Checker will tell you which words in a text are not part of the "Oxford 3000", the 3000 most frequently used words. You can type or paste your text and you will get a percentage as a result. The only minor inconvenience is that you have to manually add proper names that you want to ignore. Of course there are other factors that influence the difficulty of a text, but this tool should help you assess the vocabulary level, which is a main factor.

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