Word Surfing
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Images of WS Vocabulary Cards - together with a full description of how to use them -  are now available at this link Word Surfing Vocabulary Cards

The concept gives learners the opportunity to actively develop their vocabulary (and grammar) skills in a “game” which has been designed to develop good language learning habits. This “game” involves a dynamic framework that produces virtually random testing of graded vocabulary and grammar items.

It challenges learners to use what they choose – and demonstrates their    progress over time through a motivating scoring system.


Traditional vocabulary cards >>>>>>>> Word Surfing Vocabulary Cards

Traditional vocabulary cards offer students various advantages that aren’t available to them through the use of traditional vocabulary books. They offer

  • much more flexibility
  • better development, organisational and testing opportunities and
  • the chance to see improvement in a more motivating manner.

The greatest strength of traditional cards systems is perhaps their ability to create repeat exposures to new language items during the testing phase.

However, despite such obvious benefits, traditional vocabulary cards (like traditional vocabulary books – are open, in my opinion, to one major criticism.

Traditional card systems may well encourage the long-term habit of learning by association with translations.

Although translations undoubtedly give good initial exposure to meaning, it seems to me that their use should be avoided whenever practical or possible – so that students have the best possible chance of avoiding the long-term habit of associating L2 with L1. The development of this habit is, in my opinion, largely responsible for fossilization problems – and I feel it should be discouraged at the earliest possible stage. Traditional vocabulary cards don’t discourage that habit, they tend to encourage it.

The basic concept of vocabulary cards however is hugely convincing to me – as long as students use them in L1 in a way that encourages them to immerse into their new language through authentic practice.

Word Surfing Cards therefore don’t make any use of translations – and have been designed to add as many useful features as possible to a basic concept that already exists.