Lexxica - the Word Engine
Another interesting English language training application I came across at JALT 2007 was Lexxica, a free Web-based service out of Tokyo. Based on frequency analysis of international corpora, Lexxica’s main purpose is to quickly identify how many English language words a learner knows, and then through digital flash cards, reading exercises, games, etc., build that learner’s vocab to the essential 2000 and 5000 levels.
Research has shown that of the approximately 375,000 words in the English language, knowing the most common 2,000 of them will provide a learner with 80% coverage of words needed for basic communication, while knowing the most common 5,000 is necessary for reading general English without a dictionary. One problem with many language programs is that they teach too many words outside of the most frequent. Lexxica hones in on the words learners are missing from this essential corpus and trains students systematically to reach those magic levels.
What interests me most about Lexxica is that teachers can form their own groups of students and track their progress over time. Furthermore, the application is formatted to work with mobile technology, so students without desktops or laptops can participate - I saw it work nicely on the iPod touch, too. I believe Lexxica would make an ideal vocab building component for any EFL/ESL program. And it’s free!