Taking word clouds to the next level with Wordsift

word cloud 1Not only do word clouds look pretty, there are also a number of ways they can be used in the ELT classroom to help our students learn. In this post we’re going to be looking at how.

Now, there are lots of word cloud generators out there such as wordle and tagxedo. However, not all these tools were created equal: there are word clouds and then there are word clouds! One which really caught my eye recently is Wordsift, created by Kenji Hakuta of Stanford University.

What’s the basic premise of a word cloud? Well, it’s an image made up of the words used in a text with the size of each word indicating its frequency in the text it was drawn from. A quick glance at the word cloud on the right reveals that ‘freedom’ is the most common word in the text and you can probably guess which famous speech these words come from. Word clouds are quick to make: copy the text, paste it into the generator and let the program do the rest. Continue reading