What it’s all about….

What it's all about....

Here’s the word game. Click on the word cloud and see how many sentences and phrases you can make that apply to your teaching. You’ll need to add in grammar words, but you may not add any lexical words. (This, by the way, is an activity I do a lot with students – not using my blog as the text source, of course. I often copy some of their written pieces into wordle – so they are the text source. See below.)

Wordles and dogme elt

You often hear (read) the questions levelled at dogme eltYes, but how do you review the language? How do you ensure it gets recycled?”; word clouds can go a long way towards providing answers. Typically the teacher in a dogme lesson takes copious notes (on paper or as an audio recording), and the board may be covered in vocabulary items by the end. What’s more, for a dogme class to stand solid, the final stage of the lesson should see some kind of written consolidation: students writing their own summarising notes outlining the salient language points that have emerged, or (far more effective, especially with teens) actually writing a summary of the conversation, incorporating the new language they have used. This summary writing reworks language, but also gives more introverted or passive students – the type who listen but don’t speak much – time to use the language. You can also ask students to add their own opinions to their summary, as they may not have expressed them in front of their peers. Particularly with teens, opinions are often part of The Twilight Zone.

Taking the language on the board (use a camera – much quicker than copying it all down), your own notes and students’ summaries, you have plenty of text to feed into wordle (the summaries are particularly useful as student-generated texts are highly motivating as a source for language activities – it somehow says ‘your work is as valid as the stuff in coursebooks’). You can then use the resulting word cloud at the start of the next class, putting students in pairs or threes (or working individually – you know your class) and asking them to come up with as many sentences as possible using words from the cloud, much as you did above. (You didn’t? Well go on then! What are you waiting for? 😉 ). They may add ‘grammar words’ but no lexical items. Discussion will often develop at the feedback stage – go with it :).



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16 responses to “What it’s all about….

  1. Oh, why didn’t I think of that! Even if it isn’t a dogme lesson, this is a much better way of using wordle than just “pretty”!
    Thank you!

  2. Leo

    Thank you, Fiona. I will surely add this vocab review activity to my repertoire.
    As a lexical teacher (i.e. teacher applying the principles of the Lexical approach) I also end up with copious amount of vocab on the board. However I could not find much use for Wordle since it’s .. well a Word cloud and not a Collocation cloud. That was until I stumbled upon Hanna Kryszewska’s article on adapting Worlde for lexical chunks:
    It’s very simple – simply add ” ~ ” sign between the words (parts of a collocation) and you get a Phrase/Chunk cloud. Don’t miss her webinar on the TeachingEnglish website on 15 March.

  3. Rob

    Thanks for sharing this, Fiona. I like to have students write a story using as many lexical items (words, chunks, etc.) as they can. This can be done solo, in pairs or groups, as feels right. It taps into the imagination more deeply than single sentences but might not be suitable in class if there are time constraints. Thanks again.

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  9. Wordles are great. They remind me of something else…

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  11. What a great way to use wordle. I am so using this.

    Thank you thank you.


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  13. Great article Fiona, I also really like wordle for ESP: you feed a text dealing with their need to it, and see the most common words for it.

    The Scottish corpus also has a fantastic wordle type collocation cloud that is free, (insert cheap stereotype joke here) at:


    Greetings down south, am slowly getting my head above water up here with the new baby! (although since changing corpuses, now she is my wee bairn.)

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