Vocabulary.com Website Poster Image

Vocabulary.com

(i)

 

Learning(i)

Clever site emphasizes word comprehension over memorization.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Users are exposed to new words, can look up terms they don't know, and can read about language nuances such as slang. Learning new words can be fun and empowering for kids.

Violence
Not applicable
Sex

Kids can find terms such as "porn" and "sex" in dictionary searches. Definitions generally harmless, but usage examples link to sites with information on books and articles that could potentially go into more detail.

Language

The dictionary offers definitions, usage examples for "f--k," "s--t," other swear words.

Consumerism

Dictionary results and most other pages are ad-free.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Kids can find drug- and alcohol-related terms in the site dictionary, but the content doesn't encourage them to drink or do drugs.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Vocabulary.com is a place where kids can go to learn new words and play word games. Kids over 13 can do some vocab-building social networking with friends. Kids under 13 are asked to submit a parent's email address during registration. You'll receive your child's password, and you'll have to activate their registration. Even with permission to use the site, kids 12 and under get limited access: Their profiles aren't public, and they can't post comments. As with any dictionary-based site, kids can get silly and look up swear words and anatomy, but the definitions are standard and harmless. However, they could potentially click on links that take them to external sites that could expose them to more content with these definitions.

What kids can learn

Subjects

Language & Reading

  • letter or word recognition
  • vocabulary

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • applying information
  • deduction

Self-Direction

  • academic development
  • work to achieve goals

Engagement, Approach, Support

Engagement

Instead of merely reading definitions, students take an active role and guess word meanings. They get points for every question they answer, which encourages them to repeatedly use the site and work toward higher achievement levels.

Learning Approach

Missed words reappear to ensure they've been learned. Terms that teens nail on the first try reappear, too. The impressively adaptive challenges are based on user responses.

Support

A blog covers usage, unusual terms, and linguistic articles. You can view word lists from standardized tests, literature, and historical documents or create and share your own. Video tutorials are key to understanding the site's applications.

What kids can learn

Subjects

Language & Reading

  • letter or word recognition
  • vocabulary

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • applying information
  • deduction

Self-Direction

  • academic development
  • work to achieve goals

Kids can learn words used in the academic and business worlds. Questions provide a thorough look at how each word is used, with example sentences and audio recordings of pronunciations. Kids also can look up words and learn about language topics, including slang. Each question lists a source, providing context, and users get supportive feedback such as, "We knew you'd figure it out!" The point system encourages goal-setting, and though kids feel as if they're playing a fun game, they're also expanding their vocabularies. Vocabulary.com is a great learning resource that's fun, amusing, and engaging for all audiences.

This Learning Rating review was written by Erin Brereton

What's it about?

VOCABULARY.COM is much more than a standard dictionary website. Sure, word definitions can be looked up, but the app also offers a significant number of word games for users to test their comprehension. As you get started, a word appears on the screen. From four definitions, choose the one you think is correct. The site then tailors future questions based on strengths and weaknesses. Many terms are commonly used in academic and business environments, but the site also works to identify terms you may not be familiar with. If kids answer a question incorrectly, Vocabulary.com schedules extra exercises to help them learn it. Users get points for each correct answer and earn badges as they reach different goals; charts track their progress on the site.

Is it any good?

QUALITY

This word-focused website provides a uniquely customized experience centered on words and word definitions. According to the site, which landed a spot on Time magazine's 2012 list of best websites, the more you play, the more the site can adapt its questions (currently, the site has more than 100,000). It's well designed, easy to figure out, and fun. The 10-word quizzes are just long enough to remain interesting, and users earn points and badges for completing tasks, which encourages them to continue. Your progress -- learning individual words or earning activity points -- is carefully documented in charts, and the system goes above and beyond to ensure words are committed to memory. If you miss a word, it'll appear again; ones you've mastered also are occasionally cycled back into the mix. Vocabulary.com's SAT word lists and social-networking component make it a particularly good fit for high school-age students. Still, theoretically, the site challenges could work for nearly any age level.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the new terms your kid learns on the site. Are there other school subjects your child would be interested in researching online? (Check out our School Performance Tips to see how technology can help your kids succeed academically.)

  • Teens can post comments on other users' lists. How can you write a helpful, constructive post? Are there any things you should never say?

  • Kids under age 13 get limited access to some of the site features such as commenting. Why would that be safer than having full rein? Discuss Internet privacy and safety and provide examples of issues that might arise when other users can see your real name or contact you through a website.

Website details

Genre:Educational
Pricing structure:Free

This review of Vocabulary.com was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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About Our Rating System

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate. We recently updated all of our reviews to show only this age, rather than the multi-color "slider." Get more information about our ratings.

Great handpicked alternatives

  • Too many links, ads detract from online dictionary's value.
  • Kid-friendly definitions make site a great reference.
  • Grammar study site could use more pizzazz.

What parents and kids say

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Teen, 13 years old Written byslyfox432 September 24, 2013

Fine...

Eh, it's fine, sorta similar to Wikipedia. But if anyone is doing homework and part of it is to do vocabulary, this is not the website for whoever is doing it.
What other families should know
Great messages
Educator and Parent Written byEssay Mall September 21, 2013

Interesting

Very cool website. My kids just love it
What other families should know
Great messages
Adult Written bySimpson17866 June 13, 2016

Do the same thing on FreeRice instead

FreeRice is a click-to-donate site where this exact same learning experience is used to sell ad-space to support the World Food Programme, donating 10 grains of rice to the third world for every correct answer. Vocabulary.com copies the game exactly, but removes the charity aspect that makes the game productive. Ultimately, the only thing it does is divert potential supporters away from a fantastic humanitarian effort. 0/5 stars. Do this on FreeRice instead.

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