by Marc Anderson

A Review of VocabMonk.com – an Innovative Vocabulary building tool that Boosts ESL Skills

Man Shouting

Words are the only things that last forever. – William Hazlitt (1778-1830), English critic and essayist. 

These words and many other pertinent quotes fill the pages of VocabMonk.com. Co-Founded by Vidhatanand, Deepasha, and Vaibhav Kakkar – and newly-released, it is advertised as a one-stop shop for personalized vocabulary building. Short-term benefits include helping with the vocabulary sections of competitive exams (GRE, GMAT, CAT, SAT, etc.), but the larger goal is to develop communicators in the young souls (schools). This article reviews VocabMonk.com with the ESL learner in mind.

Previous reviews about ESL materials on TalktoCanada covered The Pimsleur Method of Learning English and The Rosetta Stone Language Program. These might be worth your time checking out, as well.

The Story behind VocabMonk.com

 

VidhatanandVidhatanand tells his story of how the idea of the company was born. He routinely relied on cramming the dictionary, using flashcards and also word lists to prep for the GRE and later the GMAT and CAT, himself. He describes these methods as ineffective and boring.  In doing so, Vidhatanand saw a need for a tool to help students build vocabulary in a personalized way not only to assist with various exams, but to help with overall writing and communication skills. Therefore, VocabMonk was created with an emphasis on personalized vocabulary building.

What does Vocabmonk offer – for students, teachers and institutes?

vocabmonk logo

For Students

Vocabmonk.com provides a platform to students for learning vocabulary effectively through various categories and courses to make learning effective which makes it easy for students to remember the words.  Student can manage their learning through three modes:  “Easy”, “Medium” and “Hard”.  Also, it provides an opportunity to learn new words or review words that have been learned via “Mastered Words”

Not just that, but the game mechanics helps to amplify engagement which keeps the students engrossed in learning. Thus far, an average user spends 42 min/day learning words on Vocabmonk.com. Interestingly, Bridles, i.e. sentence formation, gives a better understanding of the word and its usage.

What’s more? Students can challenge their classmates to beat their score which makes the learning process interesting and effective.

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For Teachers

Vocabmonk offers special accounts to teachers on request and they can connect with the students to get very useful information to boost student learning.

A personalized dashboard is offered for every teacher. This dashboard represents the number of students available and their corresponding activity level. Areas needing improvement related to the group are shown in the red box. This helps the teacher instruct the students accordingly.

A class graph shows the activity of the class. There are two main components: the recommended activity and the students’ activity. The recommended activity allows the teacher to set a level according to the learning needs. The students’ activity shows how much the students have learned and if they have met the recommended level of learning. This helps the teacher with insights about individual students and the areas they need assistance with. Teachers can send personalized messages to each student informing them of areas they need to work on and improve. Furthermore, there is a detailed PDF report that can be downloaded which consists of a copy of the overall performance by the students.

For Institutes

There is a personalized page, i.e. website devoted to institutes. This helps to increase visibility over the internet. The dashboard contains a complete listing of all student classes with the “view report” and “manage students” features to enable close supervision of students. Students, as well as classes, can be added and deleted. The current status of students, those that have joined and those pending invitation, can be easily seen.  Institutes can also manage the mentor list and oversee the performance of the mentors.  They can add/delete/edit the mentors whenever necessary. In addition, the institutes can add their own custom word lists to be accessible to their students only. This educational feature provides personalization for the institute and individualization for the students, a key component for differentiated education so students can reach their maximal potential in ESL growth.

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Want more information?

Information about the Institute Programs is not available in this blog article of Vocabmonk.

For more details, contact VocabMonk directly.

VocabMonk Brochure for Schools

What specific features does Vocabmonk offer?

Vocabguide.com

Vocabguide.com is a sister website for vocabmonk.com developed by the same team.  It has two useful components: “dictionary” and “reverse dictionary (word spy)”.

Dictionary is a place where you enter words and get the meaning, definition, synonym, antonym, etymologies, hypernym and relevant image.

Reverse dictionary (word spy) means that a phrase such as “to reduce” when searched gives the results as degrade, attenuate, lower, abbreviate, etc. This is really an interesting feature.

You are given the search results in a fraction of a second, along with parts of speech, source dictionary, and best matched answers.

Facebook Interface

There is a Facebook interface which has photos, posts, videos, and quotes with nearly 10,000 likes in a very short span of time.

facebook banner

About the Quotes and Word of the Day, Daily Quiz, and a Funny Quote…

Every day starts with a special quote which may be related to any aspect of life (impactful and reality). Then the “word of the day” is followed by it, which helps the students to learn a new word every day. The daily quiz on English is another engaging feature. Next to this is a “funny quote” which offers a diversion from English study by bringing some humor to the reader.

Specific Information about Important Exams

The site has links to five categories of tests:  GRE, GMAT, CAT, SAT, and General.  Each of these sections describes the particular test and gives samples of test items. An added comment about the VocabMonk Edge written from the site’s staff tells you how they can make a difference for that particular test. For example, regarding the GRE, the information on the site reads:

VocabMonk concentrates mainly on the idea of making an individual aware of the specific high frequency words that appear in the GRE exams, laying the critical foundation that proclaims ‘know the word, and you know the answer’. The words have been specifically selected from the standard wordlists and books for GRE. The standardized words have been arranged in a categorical order for the user’s convenience, thus allowing one to re- member the contexts easily.

All About Subscribing to the Online VocabMonk Service

How to Subscribe

The registration (free to online subscribers) asks you to select one option of why you want to start building your vocabulary. The options include CAT, GRE, GMAT, SAT, the age groups (5th-7th grade or 8th-10th grade), business vocabulary, or for fun. I decided to join for business vocabulary.

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My Personal Experience with Subscribing

The first notification sent me to General English where I could access Challenges, Bridle, Icebreaker, and Notifications. I was given a name “avatar” to play the quizzes against a circle of friends or against the global top challengers. The Bridle link allowed me to compose a sentence using a given word (e.g. stint) with 150 characters. I wrote a sentence and submitted it. The number of bridles is recorded and apparently they are rated by users on a scale of 0 through 5. There is a listing of people who are the top bridlers within your friends and global circle. I could see that many students would enjoy this feature of both composing sentences like I did and in reading the sentences others have written. They would enjoy voting for others, too, etc. and seeing how they were rated themselves. 

Final Review and Comments

Articles and More

I looked at the Icebreaker section again and could see that by spending more time reading the various articles submitted, that these articles would be helpful in both navigating through the VocabMonk system, as well as in assisting with test taking. For example the topic of Getting Started with VocabMonk certainly would address some areas that you might want a better explanation of, especially being a new user. The topics of Useful Resources for the CAT Verbal Section would help with this important test in India for prospective business students. And the Random Grammar Rules thread for compiling commonly confused and other major grammar rules would be beneficial to most people wanting to improve their grammar.

Resources

Another category I discovered is the Resources, where you can post and read relevant material for holistic vocabulary development. This includes a mix of books, blogs, and articles that might be of help to fellow users.

A Friendly Quiz

Next, I began the general course of a quiz of 50 words… the first word being “amphitheater”. That was an easy one “…an oval or round structure having tiers of seats rising gradually outward from a central open space or arena.”  “Anachronism” followed along with 48 other words.  I found it a fun way to review vocabulary with the given multiple choice selections. There are clues along the way if you want to take one, but it will count against your score. I also found some of the words and definitions a little difficult, but I managed to score 49/50, after all.

I think this very component of VocabMonk would be helpful as you get immediate feedback and correction.  It appeals to many styles of learners to visually see the words and definitions and then to get the answer corrected on the spot and feel success, etc.

Yet Another Look

Before leaving the site, I decided to give the Vocabguide one more chance so I added the word appreciate.  This time, synonyms of esteem, estimate, understand, distinguish, value, feel, and advanced came up. The antonym of depreciate was listed; as well as hypernyms of appreciated, appreciates, appreciating; same context words with some words in the Indian language; a variant form of rise; and the verb forms (appreciates, appreciated, and appreciating).  There was a listing on the side that did include sentences, after all. I liked that the synonyms and antonyms and other break-down of the word were color-coded and I appreciated J the verb forms and sentences that I did not see originally in my first attempt at using (as explained earlier).

So I then tried to re-do the words that I entered initially.  “Get lost” remained the same with the definitions as mentioned above; but this time “amaze” came up with synonyms, same-context words, etymologies, and verb-forms.  There were some sentences included for the word “amaze”, but not for the synonyms. Users could submit mnemonics, confusers, pictures, and start an activity on the word stream or even add to a discussion. I checked out the word amazement and I was surprised to see that you could add feedback in the form of quotes which would help in understanding how the words are used in context and also timeliness. For example: Love is the joy of the god, the wonder of the wise, the amazement of the gods. – Unknown posted; And the look on their faces… the wider and amazement when they’ve accomplished something. – J. Morgan; and I’m still in amazement that I graduated high school…- curtistread.

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The Slogan

VocabMonk’s slogan “building vocabulary is fun” does seem to be fun.  They pride themselves in designing a “better platform to build vocabulary”. Their further claim is “uniqueness” in doing so. Their researchers have analyzed English vocabulary for a better learning experience for all students. Students learn and review their knowledge and can assess their progress in a timely manner.

Summary and Invitation to Try it Out!

All in all, it is an interesting site to play around with and the site offers lots of opportunity for engagement.  Most likely, it would be worth your time to investigate further. My only reservations are that the definitions of the words both on the Vocabguide and in the actual practice sessions (and maybe throughout the other components when you get more into the program/service) are not 100% without flaw. Part of this reason may that it is a new product/service and that the definitions, explanations, and writing are not written (I am guessing… for the most part if not all) by a native English speaker.

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There is more to explore on the site as to the possibility of premium membership, etc. And it would be fun to learn a set of words and take one of the standardized exams yourself (GMAT, etc.) to note the positive improvement the study had on your test results. Perhaps over time, with users’ comments that are welcomed in many different places on this site, the limitations of the actual writing on the site (explanations, definitions, etc.) can be reduced.

If you have some time to look at this site in the hope of improving your own English skills, specifically vocabulary, writing, and communication skills, check it out. Used with other modes of online study, face-to-face instruction, tutoring, independent self-study, etc., you will undoubtedly progress with your English skills.

Remember as VocabMonk proclaims:

Words are the only things that last forever. – William Hazlitt (1778-1830), English critic and essayist.

For further information please download the following PDF’s graciously sent by VocabMonk to our offices.

Vocabmonk Introduction Brochure
VocabMonk Fully Detailed Brochure

vocabmonk homepage

I’d like to thank Vidhatanand the Co-Founder of VocabMonk for talking with me on the phone to further explain his unique product for students around the world.  While there is still some notable issues with the correctness of the English in the product, he assured me that they were working on fixing this issue and that it would be largely free of English errors in a month or so.  I will try it again at that time, to see if progress has been made.  I’d also like to wish Vidhatanand and VocabMonk the best of luck in their quest to improve students learning of Vocab(ulary).

*In no way, monetary or otherwise was TalktoCanada.com compensated for the writing of this article.

About the author:

Marc Anderson is the co-founder and CEO of TalktoCanada. Since founding the company in 2006, he has grown it to over 25 staff with operations in 50 countries. Marc spends his time outside of TalktoCanada travelling, playing with his son and working on new business projects.

  • vidhatanand

    Thanks for writing about us. It was pleasure talking to you.