Education / Maryland Startups / Research and Technology / Innovation
From speech specialists to ed tech innovators
By Julie Miller /
February 25, 2021
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Traditional methods of learning vocabulary words may involve students memorizing complex language-definitions they may not understand. As a speech language pathologist, Beth Lawrence saw problems with this approach; watching her students fail to learn deeper nuances of vocabulary words. She recognized that even the best tools available used language to teach language to students who struggled with language. It simply wasn’t working for her students, or the millions of students across the country who struggle with language comprehension. 

InferCabulary founders Beth Lawrence and Deena Seifert.

Seeing a significant gap in available resources that make vocabulary lessons visual, Beth set out to find a better way to teach language. As a result, she launched InferCabulary in 2017 with fellow speech language pathologist, Deena Seifert. InferCabulary is a web-based vocabulary program that uses images to help students learn words in a variety of contexts using kid-friendly definitions. 

In building their online program, the co-founders analyzed several features that teachers and specialists want in vocabulary instruction. While there are some similar products on the market, only InferCabulary requires students to engage in Semantic Reasoning (cognitive-educational term that the co-founders coined), which is proven to be effective. Watch Beth’s TEDx Talk below to learn more about the concept of Semantic Reasoning that is at the core of InferCabulary. 

Beth and Deena strongly believe that intervening in vocabulary comprehension early is critical, as students lacking a deep and broad understanding of words struggle to comprehend in every area of learning. This liminted understanding of words ultimately leads to bigger problems, such as lacking skills for employment. 

The company set out to disrupt the “business as usual” approach to teaching vocabulary, and a few short years into it, they’re gaining momentum. 

“We are excited about where we are going to be in five years,” Beth said. “Our team grew last year, and our future is even brighter as we expand our reach with channel partners who already have deep relationships with our target customers, K12 schools and districts.”

In 2020, the company was recognized among the 20 most innovative companies in Maryland in Governor Hogan’s Future 20 list

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