Wikipedia in Simple English


I hadn’t noticed Simple English Wikipedia until last week. I think that is is a good idea for schools. I know a lot of our students use Wikipedia but the language is often too difficult, especially for the students in the lower levels, those that have specific literacy issues and our ESL (English as a Second Language) students. This offers a much more accessible option for these students. I like it but be aware that, although Simple English pages are supposed to be written in a direct, straightforward way, without complex grammar and a limited vocabulary should be used, there is an inconsistency in the articles.

The following is advice given to for those intending to write something on the Simple English Wikipedia:

When writing articles here:

  • Use easy words and shorter sentences. This lets people who know little English read them.
  • Write good pages. The best encyclopedia pages have useful, well written information.
  • Use the pages to learn and teach. These pages can help people learn English. You can also use them to make a new Wikipedia to help other people.
  • Simple doesn’t mean little. Writing in Simple English means that simple words are used. It does not mean readers want simple information. Articles don’t have to be short to be simple; expand articles, include a lot of information, but use basic vocabulary.
  • Be bold! Your article does not have to be perfect, because other editors will fix it and make it better. And most importantly, don’t be afraid to start and make articles better yourself.

The problem is that writing with a restricted vocabulary is extremely difficult, particularly if you still want your topic to remain interesting. This Simple English version is, however, a good start and, if more people who work in the ESL (TESOL) fields contributed to this wikipedia, it has the potential to become even better.

Another useful idea is including, in the “Tool section” of left-hand sidebar, on every page, there is a direct link to citing the article. Various styles a given and it makes it very easy to avoid copyright problems.


You can also find the Simple English version by going to the main Wikipedia site. It is in the language section of the left-hand tool bar. Again, it’s worth a look.

There is another use for Wikipedia, because it is available in many languages that can be easily accessed.  If you need to find a quick explanation of a complex subject for someone promptly, you could search for the topic in Wikipedia, check the sidebar on the left to see if their language is listed and ,if it is, click on that, and if it looks okay, then pass it on.