November 1, 2011 Features

Building Vocabulary with Online Tools

Vocabulary building is valuable not only for second-language learners, but also for many clients we serve from young (e.g., children with developmental delays and language disorders) to old (e.g., stroke survivors who are relearning language skills) and every age between. It is also valuable for professionals and students in communication sciences and disorders programs!

Although there are still many "sniglets" (things for which there are currently no words, an estimated 4,000 new words are added to the English language each year. That means since my last column on words (Feb. 10, 2009), there have been more than 10,000 new vocabulary words added, along with many additional vocabulary materials available online.

Pictures of Vocabulary Words

  • Learning Chocolate lists more than 120 categories, linked to several vocabulary activities including simply looking at the pictures and hearing the vocabulary words in that category
  • Language Guide offers many categories available in 18 languages. Scroll over the pictures for the spoken vocabulary word.
  • Words from has 15 categories with numerous photographs. Select a photograph to access clear audio and visual pronunciation. Many of the photographs arranged in categories (actions to zoo animals) are available as free apps.

Two Favorite Picture Dictionaries

  • Picture Dictionary contains more than 2,500 illustrations with translations in more than 30 languages. The site can be especially helpful for creating low-cost augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) boards or books for individuals who have had a stroke and remember an earlier language better than English. It is also excellent for second-language learners or creating flashcards for treatment in a language other than English.
  • Internet Picture Dictionary in five languages. Look up words by first letter or in categories and create online flashcards or other activities.


Games and Activities

Hundreds of additional sites to explore are available on:

Judith Maginnis Kuster, MS, CCC-SLP, is a professor in the Department of Speech, Hearing, and Rehabilitation Services at Minnesota State University, Mankato. Contact her at An archive of all of Kuster's columns can be found at

cite as: Kuster, J. M. (2011, November 01). Building Vocabulary with Online Tools. The ASHA Leader.


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