About WordAddict

The concept

I started thinking about the concept of WordAddict when I was studying Japanese in Tokyo. During my Japanese classes, I used to write down new vocabulary in a little notebook. When I was home, I was making exercise sheets by writing down Japanese words on one side of a piece of paper and French equivalent on the other side (my mother tongue is French). This allowed to review my vocabulary and test myself, but it was quickly getting messy.

It wasn't always easy to dig out words from my notebook and duplicates were frequently creeping in. Exercise sheets were quickly becoming irrelevant, as some words were easy to remember while other words took more time to memorize. I had to copy difficult words on new sheets, which I wasn't always doing seriously. Some words were getting lost among the old sheets scattered on the tatami of my room.

Months later, when I started reading American literature, I felt again the need for a tool to collect, organize and review my vocabulary. When I read a novel, I often come across unknown words that I look up in my electronic dictionary. That clever little machine keeps a history of my search, so I can easily keep track of the words I've looked up, but the context is lost. When the word has several different definitions, I'm often unable to make the connection with what I've read before, which is a pity because context helps a lot with memorization.

The app

In March 2012, I decided to start creating the tool I needed: a web-based personal lexicon which would allow people to collect, organize and review vocabulary in several languages. I had experienced that to learn efficiently, I need to be active. I can never remember lists of words already made by someone else, that's why I designed WordAddict so that the user is in total control of the learning process: you enter your own words, your own definitions, and your own examples taken from the situations you've encountered, whether it's from a book or a conversation you had during the day with a native speaker.

You can assign arbitrary tags (what's a tag?) to categorize your words and WordAddict remembers when you added new words. Using this metadata you could for example easily retrieve the list of English irregular verbs you studied last month.

I also wanted to simplify access to great resources available on the web for language learners, such as Forvo, which provides pronunciations by native speakers, or the Tatoeba Project, which publishes an amazing database of example sentences translated in many languages. Each WordAddict lexicon entry is automatically linked to those resources, which gives you easy access to pronunciations and example sentences relevant to the words you want to remember. To make easier to enter special characters that might not be easy to type on your keyboard, I also added a little virtual keyboard that you can use with your mouse.

The future

So far I focused on building a simple interface to collect and organize vocabulary, but it would be great to be able to generate personalized exercises. It would also be really useful to provide a mobile app that works offline and can synchronize its data with the website when back online. I haven't yet really decided what was the best way to tackle those tasks, so for now I'm just using the app and hopefully ideas will come.