First Look At – WordSteps

WordSteps helps you to learn 20 foreign words in 15 minutes a day. At least that’s the promise of the Russian startup.

The idea is that if you learn with WordSteps only three times a week for 15 minutes you could enlarge your vocabulary by about 240 words per month and hence about 3000 new words per year.

If you then take into consideration that we are actually not using that many different words in day to day conversations (about 2000) it seems like an interesting way to go.

Now how does WordSteps do this?

  1. First you are either creating a “dictionary” of words you would like to learn like “beverages” or you choose one of the more than 9000 dictionaries on the site which are either created by the WordSteps team or by community members.
  2. You have then 10 different exercise types you can choose from in order to learn those words.
  3. In a last step you would recap the words you learned the last time with WordSteps.

Those ten different types of exercises include five slider lessons where you hover over pictures of the vocabulary and hear / see the different words followed by Flash Cards, Translation & Variants, Alphabet Soup and two writing exercises. In the free version of WordSteps you will have 6 exercises to learn with.

The translations are powered by Google.

The different dictionaries can be rated by voting them up and down by the community which brings a nice crowdsourcing / social touch to the service.

Coming to the business model. WordSteps has a freemium model and the premium part of it are word lists of the 550 most “popular” words in everyday language. You get pictures, listening and writing exercises and you will also be able to print out the flashcards. Price: $9.95 USD for 90 days. Makes sense, as we learned that one should learn about 240 new words per month. Another source of revenue is apparently Google Adsense like on Livemocha or Busuu.

WordSteps is already the second vocabulary learning startup of the founders. They had started off with an English learning service called RapidSteps but learned that their users were also interested in learning other languages the same way. So WordSteps was born.

All in all the site and the concept make a good and solid impression. It loads fast and is easy to navigate. For my taste there are too many mandatory fields in the sign up process, at least for a free account and some of the more flashy Google Adsense banners can also become very annoying when trying to memorize vocabulary. Would be interesting if the premium version is ad free.

Related Links:

  1. WordSteps
  2. RapidSteps