Common Sense Review
Updated October 2013

Vocabla

Custom and ready-made word lists, but quality and accuracy are hit and miss
Common Sense Rating 2
Teacher Rating
Not Yet Rated
  • You must create an account to use Vocabla.
  • Click on "change translation" to receive a new definition.
  • Pay attention to the instructions in the blue boxes to help you get started.
  • Share your progress to help provide additional encouragement and motivation.
  • Search for ready-made word lists in the library.
Pros
Both custom and ready-made word lists include definitions and translations based on popular usage of the words.
Cons
Inappropriate content can be found in some user-generated word lists, and not all definitions are accurate.
Bottom Line
Handy tool incorporates definitions based on popular meanings and allows students to customize word lists, but quality and accuracy vary from list to list.
Stacy Zeiger
Common Sense Reviewer
Homeschooling parent/instructor
Common Sense Rating 2
Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return? 2

The simple flashcard games may not motivate most language learners, but they'll enjoy the ability to make custom word lists or access word lists related to hot topics and popular books, songs, and movies.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer? 2

Customizable word lists make language learning accessible to all levels of English language speakers; however, flashcard-style learning lacks depth.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students? 3

Step-by-step directions help users get started and track their progress, but leave out some of the important features of the app.

About our ratings and privacy evaluation.
How Can Teachers Use It?

Teachers with ELL students in their classrooms may find Vocabla useful. With these students, you can create word lists related to topics studied or books read in class. For a more informal use, you can have students regularly add to their word lists as they come across words they don't know.

In a non-ESL classroom or with students who speak English as a first language, it also works as a vocabulary builder. Students preparing for the SAT or other important exams can create lists full of higher-level words. Others may use it to help them learn unfamiliar words in books they're reading. However, you should be sure to go over definitions with your students and encourage them to double-check meanings, as the definitions the app provides may not be accurate.

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What's It Like?

Vocabla lets learners create custom word lists or access word lists based on popular topics. Using those lists, students practice matching vocabulary words with their definitions or translations through both a multiple choice and short answer game. To start, students select their native language from Spanish, Chinese, Arabic, Russian, Vietnamese, Turkish, Portuguese, or Polish. If students select "other language" during setup, the app uses English definitions or synonyms in the activities. They can then browse user-created lists or begin entering words for their own custom lists. Once they select or create a word list, students see words in their native language (or the English definition) and must choose the corresponding English word. While playing games, students earn points and reach milestones, encouraging them to keep practicing and building their English vocabulary. Students can share progress with other users or through social media.

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Is It Good For Learning?

The strength of Vocabla is as a platform for student-created vocab study lists. In addition, some of the ready-made lists will be useful for English learners. However, the app doesn't allow students to input their own definitions -- only the vocab words. And the definitions automatically generated by the app aren't always the most common usage. For example, the app's definition of "wolf" is "a man who is aggressive in making amorous advances to women." While this might be an informal definition of "wolf," it's probably not the definition the student who created the list "animals/los animales" meant to use. The app does give the option to choose an alternate definition, but judging from the user-generated word lists, that feature isn't obvious to all students. With a Pro account upgrade, students can hear pronunciations of the words, which is a helpful feature. However, the flashcard-style learning activities lack depth, and aren't likely to cement learning.

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Lesson Plans