Can you imagine your students begging you for new vocabulary lists?
In an alternate universe utopia for English educators, maybe.
In real life? Not so much.
Traditional vocabulary lists can be useful, but they’re rarely a student or educator’s favorite part of class.
They come with challenging new pronunciations, baffling silent letters. As much as we try to contextualize, there’s always a little bit of memorization involved.
But what if we told you there’s a new and better way?
Vocabulary lists that are not only fun, but downright addictive.
Vocabulary lists that come with audio, built-in study materials and student progress tracking.
We’re talking about Spelling Classroom, a platform designed to help all kinds of educators teach English words to their students.
Seems like a pretty simple goal, right? But the number of features and customization options you can take advantage of are practically endless.
Before we jump into all that, let’s take a look at who might consider Spelling Classroom and how it can work in an ESL setting.
Who Is Spelling Classroom For?
Part of what makes Spelling Classroom exciting for educators is its adaptability to a wide range of teaching environments. Here’s who the program can work for:
- English educators in traditional classrooms: The Spelling Classroom platform can accommodate teachers with almost any size classroom—packages are available for groups of 25 students, 35 students and 50 students. You’ll be able to assign lessons, track progress and communicate with all your students all in one place.
- Homeschool educators with ELLs: There’s an affordable family package that accommodates a smaller group of students, though it has all the same functionalities as the bigger packages. Homeschoolers will also love that features (including games) can be turned on and off to help draw boundaries between school, family and play time.
- English language tutors: Spelling Classroom is perfect for tutors because it’s basically the opposite of one-size-fits-all. It’s a fully customizable platform, meaning you can tailor the lessons, activities and games to your individual students.
While Spelling Classroom is designed to accommodate many different classrooms and educators, there are benefits that English teachers in particular will enjoy, which we’ll discuss below.
How English Students Can Benefit from Spelling Classroom
With more than 900 word lists built into the Spelling Classroom platform, you’ll always have new vocabulary to teach your students. The word lists are organized by both theme and level; you also have the opportunity to add your own lists that are specific to your curriculum. There’s plenty more to say about Spelling Classroom’s word lists—we’ll discuss those more later in this post.
However, while spelling is the focus of this program, there’s a number of additional features that English students can take advantage of. These include:
- Audio recordings of words in the word lists. This is crucial for getting students familiar with English pronunciations.
- Words introduced with definitions, example sentences, synonyms and antonyms. This context will help students from beginners to advanced learners start using new words in real-world situations from the get-go.
- Ability to access the platform from home. Especially if you’re teaching intermediate and advanced students, it’s helpful if your language tools allow for some element of English immersion. You can assign Spelling Classroom modules for at-home review, so students can keep flexing those English muscles and absorbing new words long after the class bell has rung.
You can also rest assured that learning new vocabulary won’t become a chore, due to the “Rewards” built in to the system. Students earn “coins” by passing lessons, which they can then spend on fun and catchy games that look like the kind you’d find in the Android or Apple app stores. (These games can be turned on or off by the educator at any point.)
Programs that intermix authentic learning with engaging and measurable tasks are always going to engage your students. If you’re after an additional program that showcases native English forms, then look no further than the FluentU program.
With Spelling Classroom and FluentU, you’re onto a winning combination!
How Spelling Classroom Can Transform Your ESL Teaching
Now for the fun part! Here’s a preview of the Spelling Classroom features that can be put to use in the English classroom.
As mentioned above, Spelling Classroom comes pre-loaded with tons of word lists you can use to introduce new vocabulary.
There are standard lists organized by grade (you’ll have to decide what grade level of the American school system your students’ English proficiency level matches up with). There are also themed word lists (holidays, U.S. presidents) and word lists you can use in conjunction with English grammar lessons (compound words, Dolch nouns). Many of the lists are organized by rhymes and shared sounds, which will help as you teach pronunciation.
As an ESL educator, you’ll appreciate the range of words in these lists. First of all, the lists are jam-packed with Tier 1 words that your students will need to learn to become conversational. As you move through the lists you can use them to explore different parts of speech, and the words will also start to represent more abstract meanings as the levels progress.
All of the word lists come in a PDF that you can easily view and print with or without the definitions alongside.
Of course, you probably have vocabulary sets that are specific to your class and curriculum that you won’t find built in. But you can create your own custom word lists, or even import word lists that your colleagues have created by inputting their Spelling Classroom usernames.
You’re likely already aware that when students are interested and engaged in the material, they’re more motivated to learn. That’s why it’s important to supplement your traditional textbooks, worksheets and discussion prompts with out-of-the-box, attention-grabbing materials.
Whether you’re hoping to tailor a tutoring session to an individual student, or differentiating instruction within a full classroom, Spelling Classroom’s wide variety of activity modules can help you engage any type of learner.
Visual learners may gravitate toward the flashcards and definition matching activities, while analytical thinkers will likely get the most out of the crossword puzzles and word ladders. There are spelling contests for students who need a little friendly competition to get motivated.
Here’s a peek at the type of activity module that’s available:
Each module comes with a PDF summary, so you don’t have to spend hours playing through each activity to see what your students will be learning—as fun as that would be!
We don’t want our students to simply learn how to spell and say new English vocabulary. Ultimately, we want them to be comfortable using these words to frame their own ideas in English.
That’s where Spelling Classroom’s writing modules come in. Each lesson comes with opportunities for students to use new words in complete (but isolated) sentences as well as full paragraphs.
These are flexible modules that you could easily assign as homework, in-class free writing or pair/group work. If you use them continuously throughout the semester or year (which won’t be difficult as they’re included in every lesson) you’ll enjoy watching how your students develop not only their vocabularies but also their writing skills in general.
Novel Study Guides
One of the coolest and most unique features of Spelling Classroom is its integration of English children’s literature.
There are activities and study guides for dozens of classics and best selling books—including Roald Dahl’s “The BFG,” Jacqueline Woodson’s “Brown Girl Dreaming” and editor Ellen Oh’s “Flying Lessons and Other Stories”—built right into the Spelling Classroom platform.
What does this mean for your ELLs?
For one thing, they’ll get exposure to English books that are both accessible and engaging. Children’s literature typically isn’t written with obscure vocabulary or lots of multi-clause sentences, so the language level should be appropriate for many students. However, that doesn’t mean the themes, ideas and emotions covered by the books are simplistic.
By reading along with the chapter notes and other worksheets that Spelling Classroom provides, students will also get important practice reading and drawing conclusions in English without using their native language as a mediator. If you’re teaching older students, you may not find the book list itself as relevant, but the worksheets provide an awesome template that you can use to teach the more advanced novels and books on your curriculum.
From your perspective, you’ll appreciate how the worksheets and quizzes accompanying the books help you cut down on lesson prep time.
Fully Customizable Platform
What are the qualities of the best English language resources? They’re challenging but engaging, relevant to your curriculum and have clear expected outcomes. It can take lots of searching, editing and planning to find materials that align perfectly with your students’ competencies and your teaching goals. What if all it took were a few clicks of the mouse?
The Spelling Classroom platform is designed for maximum customization by teachers with a simple series of “on/off” buttons. Every word list, module, lesson or game can be turned on or off by you, so that your students only see the topics, activities and difficulty level you’ve chosen.
You can also segment your word lists to cater to classrooms with mixed goals, interests or proficiency levels.
Meanwhile, on the student side, your ELLs get to design their own avatars to add a fun twist and personalize the platform!
Student Progress Tracking
All these word lists and features wouldn’t do much good if you couldn’t tell how much your students were learning from them. Fortunately, Spelling Classroom comes with a simple but robust student progress tracking system.
Here’s the type of data you’ll have access to:
- Spelling and vocabulary test results
- Lesson results
- Misspelled words report
- Tracking of students’ status for work on individual modules and lessons
All this information is displayed for you in an easy-to-read online spreadsheet. The reports are sharable and printable, which is useful if you’d like to keep parents in the loop on their children’s progress.
The detailed reporting will help you home in on the challenges your students face and the areas they’re excelling at. With a teacher/student messaging system built in, you can take the opportunity to congratulate your class on good quiz results, suggest additional reading after a novel study module or open individual messages with students to address specific challenges.
Plus, instant progress reporting right at your fingertips means fewer late nights with a red pen grading quizzes and papers. Who could say no to that?
If you’re excited about the stockpile of awesome features we just covered, you can go ahead and check it all out for yourself with a free 14-day trial of the program. Take a look at what modules might work best for your students and how Spelling Classroom can supplement your existing curriculum. Once your students start exploring the platform, something tells me those old Microsoft Word vocabulary lists will become a thing of the past.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to teach English with real-world videos.