Discovering English with VersaText
Studying and teaching vocabulary and grammar one text at a time
What is VersaText?
VersaText is a free online tool for teaching and studying English through texts. You paste your own text in, or use one of the 20 sample texts, and then it makes you a word cloud.
The sizes of the words in the word cloud show how frequent they are in the text and their colours indicate their parts of speech. You can customise the word cloud in many ways that allow you to focus on different features of the language. For example, you might show verbs only, or you can choose between showing key words and most frequent words.
Next, you can click on any word in the word cloud and it produces a concordance of that word. In this way, you can see what the author says about that word and how they have used it. You see what phrases and structures it is used in and how they create some of the messages of the text.
In addition, there is the Profiler which provides stats about the text: most frequent words, lists of the adjectives, for example, that are among the most frequent 1,000 words of English. And all the proper nouns, which is useful for setting the scene for the text. And the Profiler provides readability scores as well as an estimate of its CEFR level.
Teachers often need to create their own teaching material on texts and topics that are not available in published resources. This is often the case for teachers of CLIL, ESP and EMI. Teachers often see texts on current affairs that are related to their teaching. VersaText is an excellent tool for creating lessons on the fly that deal with both the content of the text and its language.
Discovering English with VersaText is an e-book for teachers of English. It explores the program and aspects of the language that can be taught and studied using it with one text at a time.
The VersaText e-learning course introduces language and subject teachers to many aspects of teaching through texts. We share ideas and resources via forums, quizzes, wikis, videos and more.
Various screenshots of the VersaText program being put through its paces.
This book describes the features of the software but more importantly introduces aspects of language study that teachers and students can pursue using VersaText. There are hundreds of examples of features of language that can be studied in this way and there are dozens of language learning activity types, all being tasks that students can do and learn from. There is an emphasis on developing students' learner autonomy.