Review by Amanda Bindel, Common Sense Education | Updated June 2018


Deep, data-driven vocabulary tool challenges learners

Subjects & skills
  • English Language Arts
  • English-Language Learning

  • Critical Thinking
  • College & Career Prep
Grades This grade range is based on learning appropriateness and doesn't take into account privacy. It's determined by Common Sense Education, not the product's publisher.
Common Sense says (See details)
Teachers say (4 Reviews)

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Pros: Individualized vocabulary learning meets all students where they're at.

Cons: It has an outdated design, and it's pricey, especially for classroom or campus-only subscriptions.

Bottom Line: Membean has the potential to push students and grow their vocabulary while providing teachers with data they'll love.

Assign students a weekly vocabulary practice goal and provide time in class for practice, or assign as homework. Students get a notification when they've reached their daily goal. They can continue practicing or quit early if necessary. Teachers can schedule assessments in regular intervals or push out an assessment immediately. Teachers get immediate reports of the student's accuracy, practice time, assessment results, and more. Even dubious minutes are noted -- alerting teachers if students may be multitasking (or cheating) with multiple browser tabs open or if students are answering too quickly, signaling they may not be reading the text.

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Membean is a vocabulary website that offers programs for classrooms or for personal studying and test prep (SAT and GRE). Teachers can set up classes, pre-assess students through the tool, and then set weekly practice goals. Settings can be further customized for special education students, ELLs, and students with dyslexia. The teacher dashboard provides extensive data on student performance, tracking minutes, accuracy, words missed, and more.

When training, students see a word, hear it pronounced, and read several sentences using the word as well as a plain-language explanation of the word. Some words also include video clips that demonstrate the word or visual representations of the word's origin and related words. After answering a question to assess understanding, students have to spell the word correctly before advancing to another word. The words then appear repeatedly, giving students multiple exposures to cement understanding and recall.

Membean challenges every student -- from advanced readers with a broad vocabulary to English language learners --where that student is at. The algorithms make differentiation simple for teachers and discreet for students. Students are challenged at their individual level after taking a "calibration" quiz when they create their account. Through repetition and a multisensory approach using visuals, text, and media, students learn new words efficiently. Fun bonus: Teachers can train, too, from within their teacher dashboard.

Overall Rating

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?

Movie clips demonstrating word meanings as well as interesting examples and lots of audio support engage students. Practice session ranges from five to 15 minutes are just right for student attention spans.

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

Students study appropriately challenging words in context -- with multimedia support and word origins included. Teachers can set practice requirements for each week and schedule or push out assessments. 

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

A calibration test places students at the appropriate challenge level. Settings allow for slower reading speeds, ELL and SPED supports, and fonts and layouts for dyslexic students. Teacher reports galore.

Common Sense Reviewer
Amanda Bindel Classroom teacher

Teacher Reviews

(See all 4 reviews) (4 reviews) Write a review
Featured review by
Dee Anna P. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Kentucky Country Day School
Louisville, United States
This program has helped me deliver a differentiated vocabulary list to all my students.
I really like Membean. It is a unique way to use digital technology to advance vocabulary learning. Students will tell me that they have run across their Membean words in other books or writing. For the majority of my students, when they take their time and are truly engaged with the training, they are able to master new vocabulary in their writing and speech because of this program. For those that get distracted easily and lose interest, it can become a challenge for them. It helps me because I do ...
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