With 6 types of quizzes along with 3-way flashcards, WordPal keeps your mind actively engaged. Their is plenty of variety and reinforcement to make improving your vocabulary easy.
Advantages of the WordPal Vocabulary Builder Program
Learn by Doing
“Practice is the best of all instructors.”
If someone told you that you could learn to swim, play golf, or fly an airplane by simply watching, you would probably look at him or her in disbelief. Similarly, unless you are blessed with a photographic memory, learning vocabulary words by passively reading books or by memorizing flashcards is a difficult proposition. So the WordPal Vocabulary Builder program takes a different approach and that is to quiz you.
Educators and coaches around the world have consistently admonished their students to practice, practice, practice! Many years ago, while taking a Spanish class, I learned how helpful computer quizzes can be. For someone not blessed with an aptitude for foreign languages, being repeatedly quizzed on verb conjugation, word definitions, and sentence completion questions made the difference between failing the course and getting an A. Having a computer tutor that is always available, inexpensive, and never tires can be indispensable.
“Knowing a word means knowing its relationships with other words, not just its meaning in insolation: no word is an island.”
It is equally true that “no word is an island”, as words only convey meaning when they are used in combination with other words. Instead of only including a word definition quiz as some vocabulary programs do, the WordPal Vocabulary Builder takes a multifaceted approach. In the antonym quiz you will be asked for the word that is nearly opposite in meaning, and in the synonym quiz you will be asked for the word or words that are similar in meaning.
But the WordPal program does not stop there. In the odd man out quiz you will be asked to select the one word that is unlike the others. In the innovative word order quiz you will be asked to put a group of three to five words into relative order. Then to learn how the word is used in context, in the sentence quiz you will be asked to select the word that best completes the sentence.
Finally, to reinforce word relationships and enhance recall, the WordPal Vocabulary Builder groups related words together. For instance, instead of beatific, blithe, blissful, ecstatic, elated, euphoric, exultant, jubilant, nirvana, and rapturous being alphabetically interspersed with unrelated words, they are all grouped together under the “happy” word topic. Likewise, assiduous, diligent, industrious, and sedulous all appear under the “hard-working” topic, and abject, despair, despondent, and forlorn all appear under the “hopeless” word topic. By learning how the words are related and integrating them into your existing knowledge, your ability to recall the new words will be vastly improved.
“A synonym is a word you use when you can't spell the word you first thought of.”
For those of you studying for the SAT or GRE, the WordPal program allows you to be tested on just these words. Simply select the SAT word list or the GRE word list and the program will select SAT or GRE words when presenting a quiz question. Even if you do not learn the specific meaning of a word, because of playing the odd man out or synonym quizzes, you may remember that jubilant has something to do with happy, or that husband has something to do with being thrifty. And on a SAT or GRE test that uses these words, this is likely to be sufficient to answer the question correctly.
The WordPal program also allows you to focus on those words that you are having trouble with, as each time you miss a question, the corresponding word or words are automatically added to the missed word list. You can also focus on particular words that you want to learn, by adding the words to the marked word list.
Attention to Detail
“It's the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen.”
Until you use the WordPal program for a while, the more than two years of labor that went into its development may not be immediately obvious. Unless you are a word expert, you may not notice the errors that often appear in the free SAT and GRE word lists. For instance, here is an error that you will find on 32 web sites that have a free GRE word list:
“Vigilant: member of a vigilance committee”
While the correct word is vigilante, the more relevant meaning of vigilante is somebody that takes the law into his or her own hands. Besides, don’t you hate definitions that define words in terms of themselves? Pity the poor user who does not know come test time that vigilant really means alert and watchful.
By comparison the WordPal definition for vigilant reads:
“Watchful and alert, especially in regards to potential danger or trouble. Since witnessing a terrible accident due to someone running a red light, the vigilant driver always looked both ways before proceeding through a green light.”
Here is yet another example that appears on 18 of the free GRE word list sites:
“Tangential: suddenly changeable”
Sounds more like a definition for mercurial, as only one of the eight standard dictionaries referenced had a definition that was even remotely close. Most define tangential along the lines of “"superficially relevant", "slightly connected", or "divergent from”.
By comparison the WordPal definition for tangential reads:
“Divergent from the main topic. Slightly connected or mostly irrelevant. Whether Bob still loved his wife was tangential to the question of who should get custody of the children.”
Ease of Use
“Ease of use is not simple, because users are not a homogeneous group.”
Have you ever bought a computer program that takes a couple of hours just to figure out how to use it? With that in mind, the WordPal program was designed from the ground up to be easy to use. One of the problems with many programs is feature creep, where one feature after another gets piled on top of each other, until the user is faced with a dizzying array of choices. So to keep that from happening, the WordPal program presents as simple an interface as possible, while keeping the many options discreetly hidden, as in the following example:
For the user who has never played the WordPal antonym quiz, it is readily apparent that one of the five choices should be selected. In this particular case, since elephantine refers to something very large, minuscule is the correct antonym.
However, the advanced user is not forgotten. Need to pause the quiz due to a phone call or other interruption, just click on the clock timer icon. Want to change the quiz options or exit the quiz early, just click on the score chart. Don’t want to guess what the answer is, click on the antonym question word. Want to find out more about playing the antonym quiz, click on the instruction text. Like a well-designed game, WordPal presents an easy to use interface for new users, while accommodating the needs of more experienced users.
“Without craftsmanship, inspiration is a mere reed shaken in the wind.”
When the odd man out quiz was first implemented, the first incarnation looked something like this: Which of the following words is not a phobia? Arachnophobia, claustrophobia, acrophobia, frugal, or hemophobia. In this case, the words are so dissimilar the answer is obvious, even if you do not know the definition of a single word. But the odd man out question also becomes troublesome if the words are too similar as in the following question. Which of the following words is not an animal home? Rookery, aviary, warren, lair, and hibernaculum. In this case, it’s aviary, which is an exhibit for birds, while the others naturally occur in nature. However, since this is not a good quiz question, the programming code was improved so questions such as this would not be automatically generated.
Another quiz that took a lot of craftsmanship is the sentence completion quiz. You simply cannot take an open source sentence, or a sentence that you find on the web and replace the desired vocabulary word with a blank. For instance, searching the CNN news articles for "audacious", which means recklessly daring or bold, the following sentence comes up, "They were sent to carry out an audacious plot to bomb 11 US airlines over the Pacific, which the FBI estimates could have killed 4,000 people." If audacious was left blank in this particular sentence, diabolical, sinister, despicable, and other words suggesting evil would easily fit. In contrast, the custom sentence designed for audacious in the WordPal program tries to suggest something where only daring would fit. The particular sentence created for this was, "In the Battle of the Nile, Rear-Admiral Nelson's audacious plan was to use half his fleet to attack the French on their unprotected port side at night, even though that meant the British fleet could easily run aground." It is for this reason that most vocabulary programs do not implement a sentence completion quiz.
You may have also noticed that the last sentence taught something about history. Where an appropriate sentence can be crafted, the sentences contained in the WordPal Vocabulary Builder program, tend to be educational. For instance, the sentence used for redress, which means to remedy or make right, is: According to the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, citizens have the right “to petition the government for a redress of grievances”.
“Lost time is never found again.”
Have you ever played online quizzes where you are waiting for the server to respond or bought programs that display a busy icon while you twiddle your thumbs? According to one study, a response time of greater than a tenth of a second, results in the user losing focus and concentration. Which means that instead of learning words for the SAT or GRE, your mind has wandered off to that cute girl that just walked down the hall or to that guy that recently smiled at you.
While studying for the GRE a couple of years back, I found that I could play two different online quizzes in parallel, because the response time was so slow. As a result, one WordPal design criterion was to have the program always respond within a tenth of a second. The quick response criterion was then coupled with a count down timer, so that you would be forced to concentrate on rapidly learning new words. Finally, once you have mastered answering questions within 20 seconds, the time limit can be lowered to 10 seconds and finally to 5 seconds. And for those who absolutely hate timers, the quiz timer can be disabled.
“Price is what you pay. Value is what you get.”
If you compare the more than 3800 words that the WordPal Vocabulary Builder program offers against other available commercial vocabulary programs, you will find the WordPal program is an outstanding value for your money. In one vocabulary program, you pay $97 for 525 words, or about 18 cents a word. In another vocabulary program, you pay $200 for 5600 words, or about 4 cents a word. In yet another commercial program, you pay $50 for 1500 words, or about 3 cents a word. But at a price of only $29.95, each word in the WordPal Vocabulary Builder program costs less than a penny! In addition, for each word in the WordPal vocabulary database, there are at least three associated questions: a definition question, a sentence question, and an odd man odd question for the word topic that the word belongs to. Plus, with well over 1300 synonyms, 500 antonyms, and 500 words with ordered relationships, there is typically one other question associated with a particular vocabulary word.
Multiple User Support
Unlike many programs, whose software license limits the program to being run on a single computer, the WordPal Vocabulary Builder license lets you run the program on up to three computers within the same household, or alternatively one computer at work and two at home. In addition, the WordPal program supports up to six independent users, each with their own missed word list, marked word list, skill rating, quiz settings, screen colors, etc. The bottom line, one copy is likely to be sufficient for the whole family.
After buying many of the other commercial vocabulary programs, once you have bought their program that’s it. They’They have got your hard-earned money, so why should they care? At MindPal, we're different, we want you to come back to us for your future educational software needs. As a result, after you buy the program, you are entitled to free software and vocabulary updates until the end of 2010. After that, there may be a nominal charge if major new features are introduced, but minor corrections and updates will be always be free.
One-Year Limited Warranty
Unlike many programs, which disclaim all warranties of merchantability, defects in workmanship, or fitness for a particular purpose, the WordPal Vocabulary Builder program comes with a one-year limited warranty. While the free downloadable demo allows you try the program before you buy, the one-year limited warranty guarantees that any programming or vocabulary bugs that you report will either be fixed within 30 days, or your money will be refunded. Having used many programs that crash or that otherwise fail to work properly, we don’t believe that you should pay for poor quality software. Obviously, to offer a one-year limited warranty, we have high confidence that the program will work correctly. But in the event that you do find a small error, please let us know so that the problem can be promptly fixed.
Try Before You Buy
Still not convinced that the WordPal Vocabulary Builder program is right for you. Try the FREE demo for yourself. Except for the addition of a purchase screen and a vastly reduced vocabulary, the demo version plays the same as the full retail version.