“I am of course impressed with these very dramatic positive results, revealed in the difference in results between those quizzes given before the eyeVocab lab sessions and those quizzes given after the lab sessions. What a difference these short sessions in the lab make in student retention of vocabulary forms!”

Thaddeus Lisowski
Chair of the World Languages Department, Head-Royce School
Oakland, California

We’ve gathered common questions from users over the years. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, contact us and we’ll address your questions directly.


Q: What’s the logic behind eyeVocab’s simple design?

eyeVocab presents images in isolation to maximize focus. The dark blue background is intended to place the images and vocabulary—the tableau—in high focus. It is the equivalent of the darkened room of the ancient Roman ‘memory palace.’ A darkened room, where the ‘tableau’—the imagined meaningful image—loaded with affect and association—is brightly lit.

Q: Why use images like these, and how did you select them?

We’ve selected high quality images from Eastern and Western art, book illustrations, and photojournalism. These images are surprising, graphically powerful, and provide learners with a narrative for the vocabulary they’re paired with. They are chosen for their affective power, visual impact, and the stories they tell. The cognitive work of understanding and associating the vocabulary term with the concept suggested by the image cements the ideas in students minds.


Q: What age is eyeVocab’s intended audience?

eyeVocab has proven to be successful for students of all ages. Most users encounter eyeVocab in classes provided by schools or language intensives, and we’ve found that this is the most effective application. eyeVocab has been implemented in sixth grade Mandarin classes, high school and university level courses in Arabic, Latin and Spanish, and Arabic Intensives for U.S. Foreign Service personnel.

One instructor was so pleased with the program for Arabic that she brought it home for her daughters to try. Ten months later, eight-year-old Fatima is touch typing fluently in Arabic. Her five-year-old sister Amel uses a mouse to click on the eyeVocab integrated keyboard. Arabic is not spoken in their home, but the girls can define, read, spell, and type in the language! To date, these are our youngest students.

Q: What level of language proficiency should students have before using eyeVocab?

eyeVocab provides the necessary context for absolute beginners or individuals working on their own, but we recommend integrating eyeVocab into a rigorous language program; institutional or home schooled.

Some of our most astonishing results have come out of the most difficult courses offered in the United States, including the UC Berkeley Summer Latin Workshop and the U.S. State Department funded Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Arabic Intensives. In both instances, instructors were completely invested in eyeVocab and integrated it into their curriculum comprehensively.

Q: What kind of technical skills do I need to use eyeVocab?

eyeVocab is designed to be user-friendly, but we also provide implementation instructions and are available for technical support. We’ve designed the program to be straightforward and accessible for users of all ages, abilities, and skill sets. For example, our on-screen keyboard and letter-shadowing features allow students to follow along and pick up the correct letters and words regardless of typing ability, while at the same time learning to touch type.

Q: How often do I need to use eyeVocab in order for it to ‘work?’

Results depend on how often eyeVocab is used and in what context (at home, part of a language intensive, etc.). Depending on the difficulty of the language and  the amount of vocabulary in each chapter, our experience shows that using eyeVocab for 45 minutes to 2 hours per chapter will deliver automaticity. What does automaticity mean? Students will be able to type through a chapter’s vocabulary (prompted only by image) five times consecutively, without making a single mistake. At this point, words are are fully internalized like a native language and cemented into students’ long-term memory.


Q: What’s the difference between vocabulary acquisition and language learning?

Command of vocabulary is an absolutely necessary condition for language learning. Words are the building blocks of language; the foundation for understanding morphology, grammar, and syntax. When the vocabulary comes easily, other necessary conditions for fast and permanent language-learning do too.

Vocabulary has‒until now‒been extremely difficult to teach. Many instructors leave it up to students to learn vocabulary outside of class by making lists, flashcards, or matching words with generic pictures (pictures without effect, graphic power, or implied narrative). For extremely conscientious students these methods are marginally successful in establishing short term memory—enough to see them through the quiz scheduled for the following week—but are unsuccessful in establishing automaticity or long term recall.

eyeVocab changes all of that. In a short amount of time, students develop automaticity, and subsequently, their ability to read, pronunciation, and their self-confidence skyrocket. Once vocabulary isn’t viewed as a chore, the more complex aspects of language begin to make sense. eyeVocab gives students the tools they need to overcome difficulties with language.

Q: Is there a suggested method for using eyeVocab?

We recommend splitting each chapter’s vocabulary into sections (eyeVocab comes with a ‘split’ function that’s already built into word lists), and instructing students to type through ‘splits’ until they’re able to complete them without error. Once they’ve typed through all of the chapter’s splits without error, they can take on the chapter as a whole.

Q: How many words are available for each language? How are the words selected?

In Arabic we have about 1600 words from several textbooks. In addition, we have created 250 example phrases, simple sentences, and dialog containing as many as a dozen sentences. The material is presented with high-quality audio, which includes a compelling voice, accurate pronunciation, and inflected speech. In addition to delivering 400 additional words that establish context, this elaboration presents memorable instances of grammar and syntax. This way, when students encounter grammar and other language ‘rules’ in later chapters, their response is, “I know that!”

We are currently working on an expanded implementation in Modern Standard Arabic, as well as an implementation for courses in Levantine Arabic.

In Latin we have implementations for five Bolchazy Carducci texts: Latin for the New Millennium I, Latin for the New Millennium II, Barbara Weiden Boyd’s Vergil’s Aenid: Selected Readings from Books I, II, IV, and VI; Clyde Pharr’s Vergil’s Aeneid: Books I-VI.; and Hans-Friedrich Mueller’s Caesar: Selections from his Commentarii De Bello Gallico.

We are currently working on a Latin implementation that will include 95% of the vocabulary from 15 Latin textbooks.

In Spanish we have an implementation from first year textbooks including 1400 words, as well an implementation from second year textbooks totaling about 1000 words.

We will soon have an implementation for UC Davis’ Professor Robert Blake’s first year online Spanish course. We are also working on a larger Spanish implementation that will include 5000 words and cover significantly expanded thematic material from first and second year texts. It will also integrate all of the ‘First three thousand word corpus’ of Professor Mark Davies.

Q: What do I learn about each word?

eyeVocab presents vocabulary in multiple forms, derivatives, and contexts. We often include synonyms and related words, and in our Arabic program, eyeVocab always includes word roots. Providing a constellation of information, meaning, and narrative helps students lock the information into their minds.

Students learn how to read, type, recall and pronounce the terms.

Q: What results can I expect?

Here are some case studies that represent typical implementations:

Arabic is famously difficult. According to the Defense Language Institute and the Foreign Service Institute it is a Category IV language, along with Mandarin, Korean and Japanese. The progress students showed when using eyeVocab in the U.S. State Department Funded Critical Language Scholarship Program Arabic Intensives in Tunis shattered expectations:

Students using eyeVocab advanced 60–70% farther that those that did not.

The American Council for Teaching of Foreign Language has established a system of levels to measure foreign language learning. Historically, students at the CLS Arabic Intensive increased their proficiency by just under two levels. When using eyeVocab, students improved nearly three and a half levels. This means that while most CLS student’s command of Arabic was equivalent to a that of a student finishing the spring quarter of first year Arabic, eyeVocab users command of Arabic was equivalent to that of students beginning the spring quarter of second year Arabic.

At Head Royce School, students using eyeVocab are able to provide all verb forms (including all four principal parts), nouns (including nominative, genitive, and gender), adjectives (masculine, feminine, and neuter forms), and adverbs (including its meaning) in English and Latin from English definitions.

In one case where Latin II students were tested in September on ‘important verbs from Latin I’, and were expected to produce all Latin forms from an English prompt, they did very poorly, typically scoring 8 or 9 out of 59. After using eyeVocab, nearly all students scored 58 or 59 out of 59. More significant perhaps is the overall record at Head Royce School in Latin II. Over the course of seven years, when using eyeVocab, tests of all Latin forms from English prompts were consistently at 95% or above.

> To download example quizzes from students before and after using eyeVocab, click here.

>To download an example of an Arabic final from UC Davis, click here.

>To download graphs showing one student’s progress in Latin and Arabic over time, click here.