As survivors of standardized testing can attest, one of the most hated sections is testing literacy, especially vocabulary if applicable. I posit that a big reason for that is because there’s no real easy way to boost vocabulary and reading comprehension without having to actually read, and lord knows there’s a distinct lack of that in the grand ol’ United States. Sure, you can mass memorize 100 words a day, but that’s a short-term tactic at best.
One of the better (the best?) strategies is a two-step process: read voraciously, but more importantly, use new words in conversation. Kelsey Doherty’s word app, Professor Lexicon, is a great way to practice the latter half of the process. Everyday, the bespectacled Professor Lexicon assigns four new words (tap on Today’s Words), presented in list form with part of speech and definition. Your job is to find a way to weave each one into conversation for that day. No word from the developer as to whether hoarding one or two for the next day would be considered cheating, but you wouldn’t want that hanging over your head anyway: having four words to use is manageable. Having 15? Not so much.
If you’re ever confused about how to use a word in a sentence, tap on the question mark to the right to read an example sentence. I personally found them a little hit-or-miss in terms of being helpful, but if it helps you out, use it! And after you’ve completed your mission, tap the box next to the word you just used to check it off the list. Once you’ve checked all four off, feel accomplished and await the next day’s four words. Or, if you’re feeling really ambitious, find some more offbeat words to use: flip open a dictionary, hit up “word-a-day” websites, grab your vocabulary flashcards, read an actual book. This app is updated at the start of each month with new words, and is available in at least 15 different languages.
Professor Lexicon is a cute, fun way to expand your vocabulary if you’re not actually pressed for time (i.e., a standardized test). Getting around the app isn’t hard, as there are only two major pages–and all the valid information is all found on one. It has a simple color theme that’s pleasing to the eye, but what is less pleasing is the background music. I know bouncy music is one of the best ways to up the “entertaining” level, but this app’s was more suited for a circus game–that Mute button was used really fast. The app could also stand to be a bit more optimized, as it didn’t always respond when I tried to check words off (and it isn’t just me and my non-existent tiny fingers, it happened to others I showed the app to, as well).
One feature that could possibly be useful is a reminder function, either as a push notification or an email (I’d prefer the former). Helpful daily apps like Professor Lexicon are only useful if one remembers to open them everyday; highly unmotivated people probably wouldn’t. Barring that, a “previous words” section would be great. I’m a huge advocate for reading and expanding vocabularies–in fact, I would love to catch another person utilizing this app–so just the existence of an app like this makes me smile. 1460 words a year (unless it’s a leap year) for $0.99 is good math to me.
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