Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Wordle and One Way to Use It in World Languages

Figure 1



Wordle? What is it? Why care?  

I use this word frequency tool to gauge what kinds of words my students are struggling with when speaking Spanish.

Here is the process. It can be tweaked for shorter or longer assignments.

I had my juniors write reflections on a recent career day held at school, in Spanish.  They responded to seven prompts about the day, and their responses were 3-4 simple sentences.  These were arranged into a short essay.

After writing and editing,  they recorded themselves reading the essay.  Because we are a 1:1 school they did this using Garageband, but there are many ways to do this on-line.

I received an email with the recording.  For record keeping purposes, there is a naming protocol--the subject must be last name and name of project, the file name must be last name and name of project.  This helps tremendously when students look at you innocently and say, "But I sent it to you."  If I can't find it by last name, they have to re-send.

Meanwhile, using Google Docs, I made a table and emailed my students the link to this table (see Figure 2, example is the Pledge of Allegiance in Spanish).  Each student copied and pasted their essay text into the table, as well as their word count, as well as their name, date and assignment. 

Figure 2


To evaluate, I listened to each essay as read by the student in Spanish with the Google table up in front of me.  I bolded  mispronounced words in the table in Google docs and made the table private so that the students no longer had access the the link.  I made a list of bolded words by student and posted them in the table.  I printed the table and cut it up so each student received a piece of paper with typed feedback on it.  In Figure 2, students had multiple attempts to improve pronunciation, and NE means "No error".

Enter Wordle found at http://wordle.net.  This is the program I use to give feedback, anonymously share data, and give each student a chance to practice the problem words, see patters, and work on pronunciation.

I took the exact number of words mispronounced from the essay, copied and pasted the column of student errors, and used Wordle to see what words were mispronounced the most. 

Look  at Figure 1 above one more time.   What did they struggle with?

I projected the Wordle, and we discussed the errors, and we went over the largest words several times.  Not surprisingly, the fact that most of the mispronounced words were cognates was discussed.  We worked on specific techniques of pronunciation. 

That is just one way that I use Wordle!

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