Saturday, 15 March 2014

Creating social phrasebooks with Phraseum

I spend a lot of time looking at different web-based tools and apps and thinking about if and how they can be used for learning. Sometimes it takes some thought and at other times it’s really obvious. With Phraseum it was instantly obvious that this was a really great tool for learning.


Phraseum allows you to collect words, phrases and sentences from anywhere on the web while you you browse and organise them into social phrasebooks.


Phraseum is a browser-based tool which can be activated from your browser toolbar. Simply create an account and then drag the ‘Clipping button’ bookmarklet to your favourites bar on your browser.


Once that’s done you can just collect any words or phrases that you find online by highlighting them and then clicking on the bookmarklet. This opens up a window where you can add tags to the phrase and add your own private notes and annotations. The tags could be a definition, translation, part of speech or something about the context in which it could be used. You can then save the phrase into one of your phrasebooks. The phrases and phrasebooks can be private or they can be made public and so shared with others.


If you want to include specific words or phrases from a word document or PDF, you can also just type in the words or phrases you want to include in your phrasebooks, but if you save them from the web then Phraseum also stores a link back to the original source, so you can go back and see how the word or phrase is used in context. You can also get a link from the phrase to a translation from Google Translate.


Phraseum is social, so you can share phrases and phrasebooks with anyone else on the site and follow other people if you like the kinds of things they are saving and sharing. You can also click on any of the tags on your phrase to find other related words or phrases which have been saved by other users and add those to your own collection.

If you use social media with your students you can post the phrases you save through various social media channels so this is a great way to feed information and activities into something like a Facebook group or page or a Twitter feed that you use with students.

All of the entries you make to Phraseum can be edited and changed, so students can always add additional tags, change them and add the same entry to multiple phrasebooks.

Phraseum also enables you to follow people in a similar way to Twitter or Pinterest. If you follow people you can see their public phrasebooks and keep up-to-date with what they are saving.



This is really useful if you are using it with students, as by following them you can easily monitor their work and use the comments feature if you need to help, support or encourage your students.

Here are a few examples of phrasebooks I've created:

How to use Phraseum with students
  • You could get started just by creating a few of your own useful phrasebooks and sharing them with your students.
  • If you like to pre-teach vocabulary, a good way to do this would be to create a vocabulary phrasebook from a particular online article you would like your students to read. They can look at the phrasebook before they read and check they understand the vocabulary, or use it as a reference while or after they read.
  • You could also collect a phrasebook with a collections of more random words and phrases and see if the students can predict the genre or kind of text the phrases came from.
  • You can collect phrases into a phrasebook and ask students to suggest appropriate tags to add.
  • If you train your students to use Phraseum then they can start using it to create phrasebooks while they read. They can sort new words into specific groups. They could be grouped according to the source or topic or they could group words according to word classification such as parts of speech or types of collocation.
  • You can get students to share phrasebooks and crosscheck so that they share vocabulary and check that they have similar definitions or translations of the words.
  • You can send students on treasure hunts for specific things, for example searching for business related collocations. If they use this as the tag they will then be able to share their results together (any tag you click on shows you all other words and phrases which share that same tag).
  • Get students to use the phrasebooks to revise and review their vocabulary.

What I like about Phraseum
  • I love that it works in the browser tool bar. This makes it really easy and quick to access at any time you are online.
  • I really like the social aspect too. Being able to share and compare phrasebooks with other people is really useful.
  • It’s great that it makes it easy for students to go back to the source of the word or phrase.
  • Saving phrases really encourages students to think about words within lexical chunks rather than as independent entities.
  • Phraseum can be used in multiple languages.
  • It’s free.
I think this is a great tool to support more of a lexical approach to online learning. It can also support students digital literacy and study skills. I hope you and your students find Phraseum useful. Be sure to share in the comments any ideas you have for using it with your students.

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Nik Peachey

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