NEW YORK, N.Y. (September 15, 2014)— Students around the country are taking part in a new, nationwide challenge: the Vocabulary Bowl , a competition in which schools vie to see who can master the most words and come out on top of the yearlong leaderboard for the 2014-15 school year.

It’s easy (and free) for students to play for their schools. They simply need to sign up for and select which school they attend on their profile page. Students rack up achievements and points by playing on the website or app. Every word that they master is added to the school’s overall total. The school that masters the most words wins!

After the results are tallied for the school year, a winner will be announced in May 2015. The top school will be awarded a Championship Trophy, and the top 100 students from the school will receive medals at a special ceremony held at the school.

Last year’s monthly competitions attracted some great press coverage. USA Today reported: “Educators long have relied on competitive interscholastic sports to get students excited about being in school, but schools have rarely relied on academic competition to reach more than just top students. That could change soon, as technology enables efforts like this one.”

Teachers around the country have found that the competition gets students excited about learning words. Brooklyn Tech Assistant Principal Marc Williams told USA Today, “As days went by, more and more kids were getting into it. They really ate it up.”

Schools large and small have excelled in the challenge. In the past school year, for example,Corkscrew Middle School in Naples, Florida, managed to edge out much larger high schools like Brooklyn Tech to master the most words overall. “ is very motivating for anyone trying to learn new vocabulary,” said sixth-grade teacher Kelly Ducham, who energized her students to compete. “I like to see students choose to play on their own initiative. Sometimes I have had to tell students to stop practicing and to complete another assignment in class. I have reminded some students that they have to eat and sleep when they go home at night!”

Middle schoolers at Enrico Fermi School for the Performing Arts in Yonkers, NY also found that learning vocabulary could be a competitive sport and a source of pride. As The Yonkers Daily Voice reported, Fermi is “primarily attended by children who come from a high poverty, low income community,” and “motivation is not scarce.” “Our children are constantly striving to achieve,” Fermi’s principal, Miriam Digneo, said, and the achievement “gives the children an extra incentive to believe success is reachable and doable.”

“The most rewarding part of this experience was seeing how happy the kids were, seeing how they take pride in their school and their academics,” said Fermi teacher Stefanie Felidi. (Felidi and her students discussed the school’s impressive showing on in a video prepared by Yonkers Public Schools: watch it here: .)

Which school will come out on top at the end of the school year? It’s anybody’s game!

What students are saying about competing…

• “It was fun! I learned a lot of new words to improve my writing, too.” —Monika Garciga, Corkscrew Middle School
• “I liked the competition and learning new words. I even created my own list and other people learned it, which was cool!” —Alex Lopez, Corkscrew Middle School
• “Mastering the lists was exciting!” —Dylan Detweiler, Corkscrew Middle School
• “I like that I can see how much I know and that you can keep going until you get it right. And the competition helped a lot. The competition kept it going.” —Tom Fogle, Brooklyn Tech
• “In English class, learning vocabulary meant you just copy and paste from the Internet, but with you actually learn the words.” —Timothy Truong Jr., Brooklyn Tech
• “You could see if you were getting better at it. The points helped. They immediately made me want to keep going.” —Cynthia Chu, Brooklyn Tech
• “It really enriches your writing when you use good vocabulary…It gives it some pizzazz.” —Tawshiq Iqbal, Enrico Fermi School for the Performing Arts

Teachers and administrators, get your students in the competitive spirit! For more information, see: or contact:
Ben Zimmer , Executive Producer,

About the Author:

Abi Mandelbaum

Abi Mandelbaum is CEO of YouVisit.