Wordle – The Only Cloud You’ll be Happy to See

Words are the most important feature of an ESL classroom! You want your students to learn as many as possible, to be able to find the most important in a text, to be able to play with them. Wordle offers a wonderful and super easy way of presenting words yo your classroom.

Wordle is a free website that transforms any pîece of text into a word cloud. What is a word cloud? It is a graphic representation of the words in a text. The more important words, the one that are repeated the most, appear bigger than the less important ones. This provides a visual clue to your students as to what words they have to look for in a text, what words hold the most meaning, and so on. Such a thing is great to teach new vocabulary but it becomes great especially when teaching learning strategies. The words highlighted by Wordle are the ones that will help your students make sense of the text. By knowing in advance what the important words will be your students will be aware of their presence in the text and they are most likely to go and look them up in the dictionary.

languagesresources.wordpress lists a bunch of ideas to use Wordle in the classroom which are all very interesting.

  • Creative writing: use any piece of text available, run it through Wordle and ask you students to come up with a story using the words from the cloud
  • Story building: the students have to guess the scenario of the text based on the words from the clouds. It chould fun to see how far or close they get from the actual story!
  • Oral presentations: instead of little cards with point not to forget have your students come up with a cloud that they can look at. It will also help them organise their ideas by importance.
  • Poll: you ask a question or many to your students, they type their answers in a word document which you run through Wordle. Wordle will enlarge the most common answers and there you have it; an easy poll with easy to read results.

Edjudo’s review of the product is very positive, the author even says that Wordle’s best feature is its simplicity. The author, however, mentions that there are also a few bad tweeks with the program.  

  • Wordle makes it very hard, if not impossible, to modify a cloud once it is created. You must be very carefula bout what material you run through it as you may not be able to change the content that will appear on screen.
  • The resolution/format is also very strict; 768pixels x 556 pixels or a ratio of 4:3. Now it might not be a problem for users that are not too techno savvy but for the cracks out there it can prove to be a bugging element.

This being said, Wordle is full customizable; your clouds can take almost any form, colors, as you like.

Christophe 

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