Best Vocabulary Builder 2019 - Software for Building Vocabulary
After downloading and using eight different vocabulary programs, we think Vocab1 is the best one because of the sheer number of words it tests you on. Its library houses 142,647 words and more than 600 word lists, making it the most comprehensive vocabulary learning software. Vocab1 emphasizes learning words in context and lets you choose from a variety of activities, which makes it easy to find ones that suit your learning style. This variety and the huge word database make it a good choice for improving your vocabulary.
Vocab1 has more words and more ways to learn them than other vocabulary programs we reviewed, and it teaches you how to use the words in the correct context.
WordPal doesn’t have extra features, and it isn’t the best-looking program. Still, it can help you with SAT and GRE preparation and costs less than other programs.
Vocabulary Super Stretch
Vocabulary Super Stretch is designed for high school students with holes in their vocabulary. It uses a three-stage process to evaluate, teach and retain new words.
Vocab1 has a huge library of words and uses context to help you learn them. Because it has such a large library, over 142,647 words, it’s easily the best stand-alone vocab software available.
Each word’s definition contains information about its etymology and pronunciation as well as other standard dictionary-entry fare. While the huge number of entries can be intimidating, one of the features that make Vocab1 the best vocabulary software is its word lists, which keep your learning organized. You can create lists of specific words you want to work on or use one of the program’s ready-made lists, like those for college entrance exams. Vocab1 encourages you to interact with the words you learn through activities and quizzes, including sentence completion activities, flashcards, spelling tests and crossword puzzles.
Vocab1 also sets itself apart from the competition by emphasizing learning words through context. The program is structured in such a way that you encounter vocab words in sentences, which helps you retain them better over time. You can also track your mastery using the program’s analytics, which show your improvement over time.
The program comes with a money back guarantee, and you can return it within the first year if you aren’t completely satisfied. You can also contact the company via email or phone if you run into problems with the program.
WordPal is a bare-bones vocab program that may be a good choice if you want something simple. The software uses multiple-choice quizzes to help you build your vocabulary.
While we generally like programs that have a variety of learning activities, WordPal is a low-cost option that can help you bulk up your vocabulary for college entrance exams.
Despite its basic design, the program has at more than 4,000 words to get you started. It includes lists organized into 27 categories so you can focus on vocab specific to things like architecture or mathematics. You can also select vocabulary based on tests you’re prepping for, including the GRE and SAT. The software measures your success based on the results of the multiple-choice quizzes you take.
If you want to try out the program before you purchase it, you can download the free trial. When we tested WordPal, we found there aren’t a lot of settings to adjust, and there were times we wanted to change the font size so words were more readable. The support features are also limited; you can contact the software creator through email or refer to the FAQs page.
Best for High School Students
ocabulary Super Stretch is designed as a comprehensive vocabulary builder for students in high school, with separate versions for grades 9-10 and 10-11.
Vocabulary Super Stretch is designed as a comprehensive vocabulary builder for students in high school, with separate versions for grades 9-10 and 10-11. Therefore, it’s an excellent tool for ACT and SAT prepping. This vocabulary builder uses a three-stage process to improve your vocabulary. It starts by evaluating your current vocabulary, then adds new words. Finally, it tests your retention. In addition to learning about contextual usage, you learn about root words and word origins, and the Merit Text Talker tool helps you pronounce words.
Another way this software helps build your vocabulary is with the Idea Match tool. This teaches you how to match the words you've learned with corresponding synonyms. You highlight words in a paragraph and select the appropriate synonym. This provides both repetition and lateral thinking to retain new words better.
The biggest concern with Vocabulary Super Stretch is the age and compatibility of the program. The interface is easy to navigate due to its simplicity, but the style is hopelessly outdated, as is its system requirements. This program was originally made for Windows 2000, and it requires Windows XP mode on Windows 7 just to run properly. This is disappointing, considering the high price. Similar vocabulary building programs cost just $5 and have much more modern interfaces and far more words. Each set only has 108 words instead of thousands, so it isn’t worth the $80 price tag.
Best for ESL Students
Learning English as a second language is not easy. Vocabulary Fitness is the best vocabular builder for ESL students because it helps differentiate between similar sounding words, like pour and pore, or the subtle contextual differences, like number and amount. It's one thing to learn new words by memorizing the word next to its definition, but it's an entirely different thing to learn context.. In addition to learning new words, you also learn how to recognize and correct usage errors common with non-native English speakers. Significant downsides to Vocabulary Fitness are the compatibility issues and price. This program was originally designed for Windows 2000 and requires an operating system with a Windows XP mode. In addition, it costs nearly $80 for each set. By comparison, other vocabulary builders cost as low as $5 and there are even award-winning vocabulary building apps for free on your smartphone.
At about $7, Speedstudy English Vocabulary is the most affordable vocabulary building software in our review. However, the interface looks like it was designed in the 1990s. Still, the interface is colorful, more interesting and fun than most vocabulary building software.
Speedstudy English Vocabulary comes with more than 1,500 words and uses a progressive pedagogy where the words become more and more difficult. It also has games to help retain the information and make learning new words fun. You can also create custom lessons and use your own words, a nice feature if you're a parent teaching your children. It teaches synonyms and antonyms using the Top of the World game, which functions like a board game to teach contextual usage of the words you've learned.
Why Trust Us?
As writers, we’re always looking for new ways to better communicate with our readers, so we know a thing or two about the importance of a good vocabulary. However, we didn’t just use these vocabulary programs to beef up our next review; we worked in each one to find out which features are the most useful. We have the resources to test and compare these applications side by side and spent hours poring over each one to become familiar with how the software works. Because of our testing, we can fairly evaluate each program’s offerings.
How Much Does Vocabulary Software Cost?
Vocabulary software varies greatly according to who the lessons are designed for. Some are designed for ESL students, some for high school students. The vocabulary software we reviewed costs between $7 and $80 and contains between 108 to over 1,500 words. However, much of the vocabulary software market features outdated products, made evident by the staggeringly lagging compatibility issues and dated interfaces. This is largely because the market has shifted towards vocabulary building apps for your smartphone, most of which are free.
How We Tested
We searched online for the best vocabulary software and looked at each program’s platform compatibility, specifically checking if it works with Windows, Chrome and Firefox. We also read forums and online articles to see what actual users had to say about their experiences using each software, and we considered price and the quality of the program’s features to see if the application was worth the investment. Before we started our hands-on testing, we viewed all the available tutorials so we knew how to use each program to its fullest extent as well as to identify any unique features.
As we completed each software’s activities, we kept an eye out for bugs and lag that could eat up too much of your time. We also tested our own vocabulary knowledge to see how well the programs track progress and to find out if the data was helpful and accurately reflected our experience. In addition, we paid attention to how difficult the words in each program’s library are to see which software is best for English language learners versus people preparing for college entrance exams.
We also compared the programs’ interfaces to find user-friendly software. Finally, we checked out each software provider’s support features and preferred those that have a variety of contact methods, including email, live chat and phone options.
Key Features to Look for in Vocabulary Software
Number of Words
It’s important to look for software that has thousands of words so you can keep coming back without running out of new vocabulary to learn, but the best programs also organize their lessons well. We found that applications that breaks up words into categories, such as test prep and common words, are most useful because they let you improve your vocab in specific areas.
Games & Quizzes
Familiarizing yourself with new words takes a lot of practice, so look for vocabulary programs that have a variety of activities that expose you to the words in different ways. We looked for programs that focus on using words in context because it’s the fastest way to learn new vocab. However, we also found that software with activities that mimic tests like the GRE and SAT are well suited for students studying for college entrance exams.
While you can download most of the software we reviewed directly to your computer, you might want to consider the number of devices you can download the software on when you purchase a single license. When you buy a program you can download on multiple computers – such as a home computer and a laptop – you can access lessons in different locations or share the software with family members.
We’d like to see more products sync between devices, which makes it easier to track your progress when you use more than one computer. You might also want to consider an application that comes with a mobile or audio version so you can learn on the go.
Other Ways to Improve Your Vocabulary
Using vocabulary software is a great way to start enhancing your lexicon. However, there are other things you can do to supplement the work you do in the program. If you make some or all of these part of your daily routine, you’ll see your vocabulary grow in no time.
If you decide to do only one thing to improve your vocabulary, let it be reading. And don’t limit yourself to one genre – read everything. Let no subject be off limit nor any format. The more frequently you read, the greater your chances of seeing new words as well as familiar words used in new contexts. You’ll also learn about new subjects and make connections between them, which is exactly how you expand your vocabulary and your horizons.
Pay attention while you read. Notice how words are used, how sentences are built and even how rhythm is used to make words flow smoothly in sentences and paragraphs. Think about why the writer chose to use one particular word over another, and take note of how different writers, subjects and styles use words differently.
Use a Dictionary While You Read
This may seem like a hassle, and it certainly is when you read challenging material, but it absolutely pays off. Every time you see an unfamiliar word in a book or article, pause and look it up. Spend a minute letting the definition sink in. Learning what the word means, rather than skimming over it, gives you a better understanding of what the author is talking about. You can keep a physical dictionary next to you while you read or simply look up a word on your smartphone.
Learn a Word Each Day
Another simple way to expand your vocabulary is to learn one new word every day. You can open up a dictionary to a random page and point to a word, or you can download an app or sign up for an email that gives you a new word each day. You can also visit sites like dictionary.com and view their words of the day.
Use Your Words
The best way to remember all of the new words you’ve learned is to use them. Once you feel confident you know the word’s meaning and possible contexts, feel free to throw it in a sentence. You’ll feel smarter. Plus, using a more descriptive word may help others more precisely understand what you are trying to say.
Along with learning new words and thinking about how they fit in the world around you, learn the roots of words. Most English words come from Greek or Latin. For example, the Latin root “bene” means “well.” With that information, when you see a new word like “benevolent” (which means “well meaning and kindly”) you have some idea of what it means. If you learn enough roots, you may know what unfamiliar words mean without even looking them up.
Play Word Games
It may sound silly, but word games like Scrabble and Boggle are great opportunities to use words and learn new ones. You can see what words other people come up with and show off some of the new words you’ve learned recently at the same time. You can also create your own word games to play.
Listen to Stand-Up Comedy
Stand-up comedians have one goal: to make you laugh. Though timing and stage presence are important, their success ultimately comes down to language. If a comedian uses obscure words or their joke setup is too wordy, it’ll fall flat. But if they use words that quickly draw you into their story, odds are they’ll succeed in captivating you and get that coveted laugh to boot.
Comedians spend hours, if not days, testing and reworking their routines to get them as efficient and effective as possible. They want to have original content, or at least provide the audience with a new way of looking at something, because people are less likely to laugh at a joke they’ve already heard. Good comedians are masters of using language efficiently.
Talk to Everyone
This should be a gimme. Everyone in the world has a different vocabulary and has led a life of unique experiences. Talking to people on a regular basis not only introduces you to new words, but like reading, it also sheds light on how others use words. It’s as educational as it is edifying.