Thinkmap Launches Vocabulary.com, Revolutionizing Vocabulary Instruction
Innovative Website Combines Adaptive Learning System with the World's Fastest Dictionary
NEW YORK, Apr. 11, 2011 -- Thinkmap, Inc., an award-winning developer of education technology, has unveiled its latest venture, Vocabulary.com -- a revolutionary approach to vocabulary instruction that offers a new, lightning-fast system for learning words and retaining their meanings. Vocabulary.com is powered by Adaptive Vocabulary Instruction (AVI), groundbreaking proprietary technology that efficiently zeroes in on exactly the words that a user needs to know, regardless of age or proficiency level. In addition, the online learning platform features an English dictionary designed to be the fastest and most useful in the world.
Although a strong vocabulary has been shown to correlate with success in education, teaching vocabulary in a traditional classroom environment is inefficient at best. Typically, students might be asked to look up words in a dictionary and write sentences, or they might be instructed to prepare flashcards. Software packages and websites that purport to teach vocabulary are not any more innovative. Students might be given drills of matching words to definitions, or flipping virtual flashcards.
"For too long, vocabulary instruction has been tied to inefficient and tedious methods of the past -- rote memorization, flashcards, and dry word lists with no context," said Ben Zimmer, executive producer of Vocabulary.com. "We've started from scratch to create a system that models each person's vocabulary and abilities so that we can serve up a personalized learning experience that is both engaging and effective."
One key innovation that Vocabulary.com brings to the practice of learning words is the combination of a virtually limitless supply of questions (more than 40,000 at launch) with its AVI system that ensures that each user gets the right question at the right time. Vocabulary learners are introduced to words and then given one of many different types of questions -- antonyms, synonyms, definitions, and sentence completions. Since there are a variety of question types, learners can't rely on rote memorization of a word and its principal definition for mastery. They have to attain a deeper understanding of the word and all of its nuances. In addition, since the sentence completion questions are drawn from the news and literature, words can be learned according to how they are used in multiple authentic contexts.
Visitors to Vocabulary.com can immediately join The Challenge, answering vocabulary questions designed to evaluate and teach vocabulary words. Each question tests a particular meaning of a word, provides helpful hints, and is followed by an explanation of the correct answer. Research has shown that the best way to learn is through multiple exposures to a word, with challenging and thought-provoking questions along the way, and that is what Vocabulary.com provides.
Though interaction with The Challenge, each learner develops a personalized list of words to master. Progress on the road to vocabulary mastery is encouraged through earning points and achieving milestones. Students preparing for tests such as the SAT, ACT, and TOEFL will stay engaged with the learning process, since The Challenge is addictive and fun.
In conjunction with The Challenge, Vocabulary.com provides The World's Fastest Dictionary, which uses predictive technology to display the appropriate definition before the user has even finished typing the word. The Vocabulary.com dictionary is further enriched by light-hearted and engaging content explaining the meaning and usage of thousands of vocabulary items, going far beyond stodgy dictionary definitions. And since vocabulary is best learned in real-world context, each word has usage examples drawn from a specially designed corpus of over 100 million sentences, covering everything from great works of fiction to the very latest news sources.
"When we developed the Vocabulary.com Dictionary, we focused on what kind of explanations of words would be best for vocabulary learners," Zimmer said. "Learners want to have definitions that help them remember the words, so we eschew technical terms like 'denote' and 'connote,' and we add a touch of attitude in our defining style."
For example, a traditional dictionary might define supplementary as "added or serving as a supplement; additional" (m-w.com). Vocabulary.com describes it as follows: "Supplementary is a little something extra to fill in a gap, like when your teacher suggests supplementary reading material that you may or may not get around to checking out." The Vocabulary.com explanation gives an effective way of remembering the word, an image that sticks in the user's mind.
Unlike other dictionary websites, Vocabulary.com is entirely ad-free. The site is exclusively focused on providing exactly what a vocabulary learner needs to know, without distracting interruptions or slow-loading extraneous content. This simple and streamlined approach makes the learning experience more enjoyable and straightforward for everyone, from young students to adults seeking to expand their vocabulary.
Thinkmap is the winner of the 2010 World Technology Award for education, in honor of its innovative contributions to the educational field -- most notably the development of the Visual Thesaurus, an interactive dictionary and thesaurus used in language arts classrooms around the country and the world. As a sister site to the Visual Thesaurus, Vocabulary.com builds on Thinkmap's strides in educational technology to transform the way vocabulary can be learned.
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ABOUT THINKMAP, INC.
New York City based Thinkmap, Inc. develops and markets software that uses visualization to facilitate communication, learning, and discovery. The company's software applications include the Thinkmap SDK visualization platform, The Visual Thesaurus, and Vocabulary.com.