A Toolbox for all Language Educators
A Toolbox for all Language Educators

Generating Class Discussions with WordClouds

There exist many free and user-friendly word cloud generators online (a list is offered here). They can be very helpful with getting a group discussion started. The example, below, comes from an activity revolving around the (very catchy) song “Où va le monde?” by French band La Femme (This Youtube video is subtitled, although not perfectly).

First, students listen to the song at home (and complete a small homework whose content depends on what the class is currently working on). In class, students are paired and have a few minutes to discuss which of the words apply best and why.

  • Students decide which words of this first word cloud best describe the emotions and feelings that the song convey:

  • Students then decide which words of this second word cloud best describe the atmosphere of the video clip:


  • Once students have discussed in pairs for a few minutes, we compare the choice and justification of each group. This exercise is also helpful to determine which discursive and visual cues were understood, and which are the ones that need further consideration. In my courses, this word-cloud activity has often paved the way for a lively discussion in which each student participated.


  • In the instance above, I generated the word cloud. Another way to implement this activity would be to ask students to generate their own word cloud once they listened to the song. Doing so would involve the students further, but also requests from them more work, in addition to implying technological means and accessibility both at home and in the classroom.


More on Word Clouds:

  • Aimee DeNoyelles and Reyes-Foster, Beatriz (2015). “Use word clouds to enhance critical thinking.” In Chen, B., deNoyelles, A., & Thompson, K. (Eds.), Teaching Online Pedagogical Repository. Orlando, FL: University of Central Florida Center for Distributed Learning. Retrieved March 27, 2020, from https://topr.online.ucf.edu/use-word-clouds-to-enhance-critical-thinking/.
  • No fewer than 108 ways of using word clouds here.









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