Wednesday, November 16, 2011


VisuWords is an online web-based visual dictionary and thesaurus tool. This tool is used to look up for a word meaning and its associations with other words in visual interface. Different nodes colour and circle colours represents different meaning and there are guidelines presented.

# Age of learners - thirteen and above since at this age, learners will use more dictionary and thesaurus
# Level of learners - All levels (low, intermediate and advanced) since this tool is very easy and comprehensible to use. 

Go to this website: VisuWords WebsiteYou will be directed to this page:

Then, enter your chosen word or combination of words (common expression) in the search box and and the words with nodes and circle will appear. You may use the key at the left edge of the screen to interpret what different colours stand for. You can also view the definition for any of the terms on the web by moving the mouse over the word. In addition, you can drag the nodes and rearrange the image to concentrate on the parts that you are interested with.

Below is a caption of VisuWords that I use when I search for the word 'play'

Few examples of activities for using this tool for teaching:
  1. In pre-reading activity - Teacher provide few vocabulary items taken from the reading text. In pairs, teacher asks the students to guess the meaning. Then, using VisuWords, they need to check whether their guessing are correct or not. At the same time, they need to provide an example of sentence for each of the vocabulary item. 
  2. A very simple way of using VisuWords in pre-reading activity is by the teacher herself shows to the students the meaning of vocabulary using this tool. 
  3. Students can use this tool when they are writing an essay. For example, teacher asks the students to write and essay in the class. Then, when they want to search for a word meaning or synonym, they could use VisuWords instead of dictionary. They can also use this tool even outside the classroom. 
  4. Studants can also use VisuWords in learning vocabulary. For example, for each lesson, teacher provides newspaper for the students and they can choose any article that they like. Then, they can spend around 15 minutes to read the article. When they come across any unfamiliar words, they can use VisuWords to search the meaning/synonym. 

*Using VisuWords could be a platform towards autonomous learning. This is because in some of the activities which I have provided, the students themselves need to need to search for the meaning of the vocabulary instead of asking teacher and the teacher provide the answer*
*VisuWords also beneficial for communicative learning. For example, in activity 1, learners work in pairs and they need to discuss the meaning of the words. This shows that they need to engage in communication.*

  1. Its Free - no membership required
  2. Attractive because it is colourful
  3. Two in one - could be used as both dictionary and thesaurus
  4. Save time - do not have to look up in the dictionary/thesaurus book

  1. Has link to twitter - could be distraction for users. 
  2. The colour code is complicated to understand
  3. The colour blinders might have problem in identifying the colour code

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