Teaching vocabulary is always a popular discussion topic for English teachers. What is the correct way to instruct students in vocabulary? Some teachers still provide lists before students tackle a reading assignment. Some have followed the trend of students choosing their own vocabulary based on words they encounter in real life. Regardless of your personal strategy for teaching vocabulary, the extensions Google Dictionary and Flashcards for Google Dictionary are a helpful way to bring technology into the process.
The Google Dictionary extension, created by Google, allows users to define any word included in a Chrome browser. Once added from the Chrome Web Store, all someone has to do is double-click on a word and the definition will appear in a bubble on the screen.
The bubble not only provides a dictionary definition for the word, but also includes a pronunciation guide. For those who might need to hear the pronunciation of the word, clicking on the volume icon next to the word in the bubble allows the computer to read it aloud. The “More” option transports users to a Google search of the word. For some Tier 3 vocabulary words, the definition may not register with the extension. Using the “More” option would allow a Google search to appear in a new tab for the user.
The extension has a few customizable features for users. In order to edit these options, users should right-click on the Google Dictionary icon at the top of their browser. Selecting “options” will bring users to the list of customizable features.
In the options page, users can select their native language. This feature is useful for English Language Learners. Rather than simply provide the definition of the unknown word, Google Dictionary will translate the word into the user’s chosen language, which could be extremely helpful for their comprehension. Users can also customize how their definitions appear, based on either double-clicking or hitting a particular keystroke. The feature takes into consideration user preference when providing the definition bubbles. The last feature of the options page is to track and save all defined words. If users want to check the words they have defined in the past or download this list, enabling this feature would allow them to do so.
Flashcards for Google Dictionary works with the Google Dictionary extension. When both extensions are added from the Chrome Web Store, the user would complete the same process that they would if they were only using the Dictionary extension; they would click on an unknown word. However, instead of just receiving the definition and “More” option, a small box with the word “Save” would appear. If users select the “Save” button, the Flashcard extension would automatically create a flashcard with the term and definition. Creating and saving flashcards requires users to create an account. Students and teachers can simply use their school-associated email address.
Once the flashcard is saved, it gets stored within the Flashcards extension. In order to access all of the saved flashcards, users should find their extensions on the top right corner of their browser. Clicking on the flashcards logo will bring up all of the saved cards. Users can view the term and click on the volume button to hear the word read aloud. Then, selecting “Flip” will cause the flashcard to turn over and the definition to appear. In addition to the definition of the word, the extension will also extract the sentence with the word in context. The sentence usually comes from the website where the word itself was found and saved. Users can then determine whether or not they “Remember” the word or “Forget” the word. Remembering the word banks it as a mastered term. Forgetting a word will put it back into the pile for further review.
The benefit of creating an account when adding Flashcards for Google Dictionary is that users can sign into the extension on any device, so vocabulary lists can be transported wherever you go.
For teachers using personalized vocabulary lists where students find words from their reading, the pairing of these two extensions are perfect to integrate into the classroom. Students can effortlessly create flashcards to help build their vocabulary and practice them throughout the year. In addition, the fact that the word list can be saved through both Google Dictionary and Flashcards for Google Dictionary, it makes it easier for students to recall and use these words in future assignments. Using Google Dictionary in isolation could still be beneficial for students, as it could provide immediate definitions for words, which can assist in building comprehension about a text. Both extensions are simple for students and teachers to utilize, but can make a big impact in terms of vocabulary acquisition in the classroom.
New Jersey Council of Teachers of English, the New Jersey state affiliate of NCTE, the National Council of Teachers of English