Thursday, November 29, 2007

Fight Hunger While Learning Vocab

In the spirit of my last post, here's a chance to have your students work on their vocabulary (English) and fight world hunger at the same time. Free Rice is a website that has a fairly simple premise:

  • Click on the answer that best defines the word.

  • If you get it right, you get a harder word. If wrong, you get an easier word.

  • For each word you get right, we donate 20 grains of rice to the United Nations World Food Program.

FreeRice has a custom database containing thousands of words at varying degrees of difficulty. There are words appropriate for people just learning English and words that will challenge the most scholarly professors. In between are thousands of words for students, business people, homemakers, doctors, truck drivers, retired people… everyone!

FreeRice automatically adjusts to your level of vocabulary. It starts by giving you words at different levels of difficulty and then, based on how you do, assigns you an approximate starting level. You then determine a more exact level for yourself as you play. When you get a word wrong, you go to an easier level. When you get three words in a row right, you go to a harder level. This one-to-three ratio is best for keeping you at the “outer fringe” of your vocabulary, where learning can take place.

There are 50 levels in all, but it is rare for people to get above level 48.

There are several pages on the World Food Program website that indicate that this is legitimate. I'm going to assume that the ads it displays are "appropriate," but your mileage may vary.

I think this is another interesting use of the web, combining educational activities (not just the fairly simple vocab building activity, but educating folks about hunger itself - including links to the sister site with contributing to the greater good. I could see this being a springboard for writing activities, social studies units on developing countries or poverty, and even some math and science activities (calculating how many grains of rice it takes to feed a certain number of people, nutritional value of the rice, caloric intake, etc.)

Lots of possibilities here for creative teachers and students and maybe, just maybe, doing some good in the process. And it's also, you know, kinda fun.


  1. EXCELLENT ideas. Thanks for sharing. I've challenged teachers to consider engaging students in service projects/ service education on several occasions. I believe there are real benefits in these kinds of educational activities. Read about the latest activity.

  2. Wow I think that this program that they have come up with is a great way to help kids that are suffering from malnutrition. I have never heard of another organization like this and I think that it is really interesting.