Free Apps for Vocabulary Learning

A Rattlebag of Vocabulary Ideas

Both Spelling City and Quizlet are device agnostic websites and apps which allow teachers to create tailor made vocabulary exercises. Quizlet is better suited for the initial vocabulary presentation stage as exercises help students match definitions to target lexis. Spelling City, as its name suggests, concentrates more on the sound-spelling properties of a word. However, the sentence unscramble game in Spelling City helps students practice the word in context and provides word order grammar practice. Please look at the table below for a comparison of the two products.

Activity Types Offered by Spelling City and Quizlet.

Spelling City Only


Quizlet Only

Sentence Unscramble(Focuses on sentence syntax) Spelling teaching and testing( Matching the pronunciation of a word to its written form)


N.B. Quizlet spelling tests are available only on laptops

Word and definition flashcards. The definition can be read and listened to.(Focuses on meaning)
Alphabetize(Familiarizes students with the order of the alphabet) Recall the word from the gap filled definition.(Focuses on meaning)
Audio-word matching pelminism( Matching the pronunciation of a word to its written form) Match the word to the definition.(Focuses on meaning)
Spelling Games e.g. hangman, add the missing letters.(Focuses on spelling) Space Race ( Laptop only)(Practices speed reading and focuses on meaning)

Free Apps To Aid Vocabulary Learning


Doodle Hangman (Free)

Students select a lexical set e.g. clothes, sports, fruit, and guess the letters that might be in the word before they get hung. Great animations and students love collecting points. Sadly, teachers cannot add their own vocabulary lists to Apps that do not have an interactive website version.



The opposites


The Opposites

Students need to pair up antonyms appearing on their screens. Presented with the written and spoken forms of a word, they need to scan the screen looking for its opposite.




4 pics 1 word


4 Pics 1 Word

Students use four picture clues and a set of letters to help guess the key word. Words are random, so this is more of a ‘downtime’ activity to change the pace of the class, rather than a vocabulary focus activity.  If done in groups, students spend a lot of time debating whether or not to spend points on hints.


Hidden Objects


Hidden Objects

Students need to locate a list of items in a crowded picture. This works well if a theme such as Home Sweet Home or Summer Escape matches unit or writing themes. Students can produce their own picture dictionaries by taking a screen shot of a scene and annotating the pictures in Skitch.



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