CollocationGame Details

How vocabulary is used in the Collocation Game

Which words are used in this game?

All the words used in this game are words which tend to be used more in academic and technical texts. There are various lists of words available for teachers and students to choose from when creating materials or for organising vocabulary study. There is a discussion of some of these lists on the vocabulary page.

In the Collocation Game about half of the words are taken from the the Academic Word List and about half come from other sources. The animation below gives more information about this.

How can this game help you improve your command of academic vocabulary?

It is estimated that in order to learn a word you need to see it in context a number of times. Repetition is important in vocabulary learning, just as it is in many other learning endeavours. You can get vocabulary repetition through extensive reading. The likelihood is that, especially for simpler texts or for specialist subject texts, you will notice words that you don't know and begin to learn how they are used.

You might be able to guess the meaning of a word from context. If you have a systematic approach to your vocabulary learning you may decide to look up the word in a dictionary and maybe to note it down for further revision later. But there is something else you get from extensive reading and that is the likelihood of seeing words used in different contexts where they may have different meanings or different nuances. Or they may used in different grammatical structures (as a noun, perhaps, instead of as a verb). All these different uses of a word in different contexts deepen your understanding and strengthen your recall of that word.

But just seeing a word and guessing its meaning a number of times is not the only or the best thing you can do. To really learn a word you need to engage with the word at a deeper level. At its simplest this may mean just confirming your guess at its meaning by looking it up in a dictionary, or writing down a translation. A deeper level is to notice how the word is used in context and to search for its use in other contexts. You can also try to use the word in your writing. Knowing a word means many things (see the vocabulary page) and one important one is understanding collocationSee the glossary definition (how does this word work with other ones?). You can strengthen your understanding of collocation by extensive reading but this takes time.

The Collocation Game is designed to make you think about the meaning and collocations of a range of academic vocabulary by presenting you with collocates and by giving you the opportunity to see how these phrases are used in real texts. You can't play this game without thinking about these words at a deeper level so by playing it you have another tool in your vocabulary learning box. Be aware that the links are a simple web search for each collocation phrase so there is no control over the content of these examples. However, the search is made through DuckDuckGo's strict safe mode so nothing offensive should appear.

The Collocation Game also gives you the opportunity to view a large selection of academic vocabulary and many of their collocates in a short space of time as many of the words are presented multiple times either as headwords (all of which are from the Academic Word List), collocates, or distractors. To see and notice all of these words multiple times through extensive reading would require a considerable amount of time, so the game helps you to rapidly boost your vocabulary expertise. You can download a pdf of the words used in the game.

To read more about repetition, or extensive reading and its role in vocabulary acquisition, you can consult (Hulme et al., 2019) (Nation, 2013). Both articles provide references to further studies in this field and you can find the references and links in the bibliography on the credits page.

An extended version of this game is available as an App Version.