Friday, August 10, 2012

Review: Vocab Videos

One thing I hated when it came time to try to prepare for the ACT and then the SAT was vocabulary.  I would get lists of huge words I couldn't pronounce and I was supposed to learn what they meant.  B-O-R-I-N-G.

Learning vocabulary has come a long way in the past few thirty years. 

Vocab Videos features 500 SAT vocabulary words put into outrageous parodies of current television shows.  Outrageous is a word their website uses, and it is a perfect choice.

The basic format is that there are 25 different ten-minute "programs" available.  Each of these is split up into twenty roughly 30-second sections.  A typical section would go something like this:

Each episode starts with a screen that looks like this.  The vocabulary word and the definition are displayed, and a narrator pronounces the word and gives the definition.  Not so big of a deal with a pronounceable word like "urbane" but quite handy with words like "surreptitious."

Then comes the video segment.  In this one, Hank is trying to impress Nina by chatting about Mozart and the Museum of Modern Art.  The video is about 20 seconds.

After the video, you see a screen like this and you see the word and definition again, and the narrator says something close to, "While Nina is truly urbane and knows a lot about classical music, Hank is merely pretending to be sophisticated."

Then it goes on to the next segment and repeats the process.  After watching all 20 vocabulary words, there is a quiz available with SAT-style questions.

After taking the quiz, you can go back and just watch the section for the specific words you missed, if you missed any.  So far, Connor has only missed one.

His statement to me is that these videos are so over-the-top that he'd have a hard time forgetting the words, but even if he does, it is easy to go back.  He commented that some of these words he vaguely knew (and some he definitely knew) but the insane videos make sure he really sees the word in action.

I really appreciate that he is both hearing and seeing the word in the opening and closing of the segment.  He tends to be a lot like me -- he knows what the word means when he sees it, but not when he hears it, as he isn't pronouncing it in his head while he reads.

In addition to the videos and quizzes, there are some worksheets available.  One allows the student to fill in the definitions for the words and print them out.  Connor is going back and doing that.  There are also crossword puzzles for each video.

There are so many other resources available, but these are the ones we've used.  I mean to investigate the flashcard maker portion as well, but we haven't done that yet.

Overall, we do really like this and Connor wants to continue to use it.  However, I do need to throw out a couple of cautions.  One is that I only allow Connor to do this when his younger siblings are elsewhere.  Well, William (13) will be watching the videos here too.  But I don't need my elementary-aged students seeing these.

Why?  Well... the language used is sometimes inappropriate.  The situations are more "mature" than what I tend to expose my kids to.  But honestly, they hear the Lord's name used in vain more in a 20 minute conversation with their grandmother than they do in watching one of these videos.

Also, since this is parodying current television shows, we are quite sure we are missing some of the humor.  Connor has seen quite a bit of Lost, and an episode or two of 24.  Otherwise, none of us have seen any of the other shows being spoofed (The Office, Gossip Girl... I've never even heard of them).

As part of the Crew, I received a one-year subscription as a small educator.  That means I can have up to 20 students, which is plenty for my family!  That subscription costs $74.99.  A single student subscription is available for $39.99 a year.

To see what my fellow crewmates had to say about Vocab Videos, click the banner here:


Disclaimer:  As part of the TOS Schoolhouse Review Crew, I did receive products as mentioned above for the purposes of a review.  All opinions are my own.  For more about my take on reviews, visit my blog post here.

If you are interested, here are more of my Schoolhouse Crew Reviews.

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