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What is the online WebLadder project?

The Webladder Project is an online service available to ESL/EFL students in the general public. It retrieves past and current Voice of America news texts and rates them according to the individual studentís vocabulary knowledge. As the studentís vocabulary knowledge increases through increased reading, the online project keeps track of which words the student has encountered and rates subsequent texts accordingly. Students can view which new words will appear in a text before they read the text, and they can click on any word in the text while they are reading for an immediate definition or translation. They are also able to review past words they have looked up.

What is the difference between the TextLadder software program and the online WebLadder project?

TextLadder, as described in the article in LLT, is a program designed to examine a bunch of texts supplied by the user and sort them into a sequence such that students reading the texts in this sequence encounter new vocabulary at a rate which they can handle.

The WebLadder online educational project presents a different approach to helping students learn new vocabulary. The WebLadder project offers students a way to search for new and recent Voice of America Special English news stories. All the news stories are rated for each individual student as "easy", "medium", etc. depending on the stories' vocabulary content. "Easy" stories will be stories that contain a lot of words that the student has already encountered among other stories. "Difficult" stories will be stories that contain many new words. The student can choose a story which looks both easy and interesting, and he/she is then offered the option of looking at the new words in the story before reading the story itself. (All the new words are linked to online dictionaries.) When the student begins reading the actual story, he/she can see a definition or translation of any word in the story by simply clicking it (again, the words are linked to online dictionaries.)

Once the student has finished reading the story, the WebLadder Project will remember what words the student encountered during that story and will take them into account the next time other stories are rated as "easy", "medium", "difficult", etc.

Students can use the WebLadder project by going to the main page (www.readingenglish.com) and clicking "Students".

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