T here’s no shortcut when it comes to learning and polishing language skills. But with increasing availability of online tools and training techniques, it is easier than ever before to hone linguis tic skills such as spelling, vocabulary, understanding and usage of words simply by spending some time regularly with these tools.
So today we are going to take a look at a few such tools here. Let’s start with FunBrain.com — a site with games and trivia for kids of all ages. Select the Classic Funbrain link from the home page or click ‘All Games’ link under this section to access word games, like Word Confusion and Spell-a-Roo. These games have levels to select based on basic proficiency and difficulty required. These games are simply to start with. Word Confusion offers a choice of two words to select from and complete the blank in given sentence according to the context.
Similarly, Spell-a Roo displays sentences with a few words highlighted in red from which only one is spelled incorrectly. Score is achieved by identifying which one is spelled incorrectly. Another spell game is named Spell Check which works the same way. An advanced game over this site is Grammar Gorillas that requires identifying correct part of speech using a brief help section. In Stay Afloat the user selects a theme from which words will have to be guessed else their boat will sink. All the alphabets from A to Z are shown as well as hints, and selecting any of them fills one of the five spaces if the selected alphabet has to come in the word to be guessed. Then there are hints that appear along the way. The goal is to identify the correct word with as few hints as possible.
The next site that has some good downloadable stuff is AbcTeach.com where Create Custom Worksheet section on the right offers 60 tools that can be used for hours of practice sessions. The Spelling section has got PDF files offering series of words where correct spelling has to be circled. These PDF documents are laid out as test papers for effective scoring when used as printed sheets.
For advanced practice, there are sheets for unscrambling words, use of homophones (hear, here), word search, use of silent letters in similar words (can, cane), rules and exception cheat sheets and subject specific vocabulary and spelling sheets such as ones containing terminology used in golf, baseball, etc.
For those interested in keeping an eye on global language trends and statistics, LanguageMonitor.com can be informative and fun both. It has recently added a list titled Top Words of the Decade and a year-wise list as well compiled through its global survey of the English language. There are some interesting findings here such as Global Warming topped the world list of the decade, while Twitter topped the 2009 word list. There are top phrases and names lists too. The site tracks usage of words and phrases in the international media. One can also checkout addition of new words and dates of their first use in English here and learn about criteria that enlist new words in the language.
Internet is a great way of learning language skills. With continued practicing over online tools, students and greatly improve their vocabulary skills in an easy and self-paced manner. ?