More about us

My name is Jim and for the last 4 years I have been a volunteer English teacher in Mongolia. I found an old book called "First 400 Words" that had old poorly hand-drawn pictures with a word list that was in serious need of an update (the book included things like "hand grenade" and "rocket launcher"). It was really a great idea but it needed a lot of work to create something new. And finally, there is not only a new book (which you can download) but there is also this online picture dictionary.

I have worked to make the website simple for children, or even adults with few computer skills. No ads and no distractions. Just wonderful pictures that not only inform but entertain. But this is just not a site for students wanting to learn English. We have things here for parents and teachers too.

For students:
Every day there is a new word to learn on the home page. Along with picture, and text, there is also an audio recording (courtesy of Google) so that the student can hear and see the language to make learning fun and long lasting. Or they can click on any letter to see all the words, pictures and audio.

For parents:
I believe that language learning is a personal journey, one involving communication between people. Because of that, there are also versions of the online dictionary to download (PDF and iPad versions) perfect for any PC, laptop or tablet. It is formatted in landscape so it's perfect for any monitor. I have not included any audio because I think the interaction between parent and child or teacher and student is important. And the great thing is that it is free, no strings attached, nothing to sign up for. Just download and it's yours.

For teachers:
I know first hand how hard it is to get quality materials for my classes at no cost in either time or money. For that reason, all the photographs that I have compiled for this book and online picture dictionary are available to download too. They are all from Flickr.com and used at First400Words.blogspot.com under a Creative Commons license, meaning that all the photographers ask is attribution and that you don't sell their work. I have literally looked at tens of thousands of pictures so you don't have to. That way you can spend your precious time creating your own materials with these pictures.

For other languages:
Right now the downloads come in two versions; English only, and English-Mongolian. It is my hope that others teaching English as a second language might help me create more picture dictionaries combining English with many more languages, expanding to other countries and cultures. If you like that idea, please contact me so we can help even more children, and adults, start their first steps to learning English in the right direction.

Pass the word:
To really make all this worthwhile, the information needs to get to the people who need it, who can use it, who want it - students, parents and teachers all over the world. Please tell anyone you think might find First400Words.blogspot.com useful or who might know of others or even organizations that could use this material to help others learn English.

Final word:
It is my hope in the future to find sponsors to help print these books to distribute to children in Mongolia and other needed parts of the world free of cost. Your enthusiasm for what we have put together so far, will help me move closer to that dream. If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, please don't hesitate to contact me. I would be so happy to hear from you. And thank you again for your time.

Jim "bagsh"
ESL Teacher
First400Words.blogspot.com