This article provides you with 5 websites that can help you significantly improve different areas of your English, from your pronunciation to your listening to your use of collocations.
Youglish is a website that allows you to hear people say one certain word or phrase repeatedly through YouTube videos.
For example, if you want to know how to pronounce the word "decisive", you can enter this word in a search bar and then the website will find YouTube videos that contain a person saying that word and then it will cut directly to the exact moment when someone says the word in the videos.
First, you'll be shown a moment in a video when a person says "decisive" and then you can click “next” to see another video, again cutting to the exact moment when someone says the word “decisive”. You can do this as many times as you want to hear the word "decisive" again and again.
So why is it useful? By hearing several different people say the same word, you can become familiar with how people pronounce that word and how it sounds. If you watch six video clips of different people saying “decisive” then you’ll likely recognize the word when you hear it said by someone in the real world. It also gives you a good opportunity to practice your pronunciation by repeating the word after you hear it spoken in the videos.
It's also great for phrasal verbs or any words where you need to see/hear examples of that word or phrase in context. For example, if you are curious about the phrasal verb "get rid of", you can search that phrase and hear it used several times by different people to give you a better understanding of how it's used.
One of the biggest challenges of learning English is the collocations or combinations of words that are necessary to be fluent. Knowing the combination of words that native speakers use is difficult, but this resource can help you find the most natural combinations.
For example, if you need to use the noun "solution" and you want to create a sentence "I (verb) a solution", you might have trouble knowing which verb to use - "I get a solution"? I took a solution?" In this case, if you search for the noun "solution" you'll discover that you cannot use "get" or "take", but that you can use the verb "find" and say "I found a solution."
When you search a word on this website, it will provide you with other words that sound natural and fluent with this main word so that you can sound like a native speaker.
As another example, an English learner might use the wrong words with the noun "research", such as the wrong adjective to describe "research" like "difficult research" or the wrong verb like "make research".
If someone searches the word "research" on the website, it will provide common adjectives to describe "research", such as "detailed research", "in-depth research" and "extensive research", which are the words that native speakers use with research. It will also provide you with common verbs used with "research", such as "conduct research", "do research", "carry out research" and "undertake research".
Longman Dictionary ldoceonline.com
There are many dictionaries online but the benefit of using the Longman dictionary is that when you search a word and get the definition, related words are also available at the top.
For example, if you search the word "success", which is a noun, at the top of the definition page it will provide you with a list of related words like the adjective "successful" and the negative form "unsuccessful" as well as the adverb "successfully" the negative form "unsuccessfully", and the verb "succeed".
Learning not just one word like "success", but a whole family of related words like "succeed", "successful", "unsuccessful", "successfully" and "unsuccessfully" (the noun, the verb, the adjective, the adverb, and the negative form of the adjective and adverb) can boost your vocabulary very quickly.
For example, many English learners know the adjective "sufficient" and can use it in a sentence like "the amount of information is sufficient", but they may not know the verb "suffice", which can be used in a verb position instead of using the adjective "sufficient': "the amount of information suffices".
Word Hippo www.wordhippo.com
Word Hippo is great for providing you with English expressions that have the same or a similar meaning to another expression that you already know. It acts as a thesaurus to help you learn other ways that people might say the same thing.
For example, if you know the expression "as long as" to give a necessary condition, you can find other words that act in the same way, such as "provided", "presuming", "so long as", and "granted".
It is important to note that you cannot just assume that every word the site provides you with has exactly the same meaning. The website will often give you 10+ words, and while some of these words can be exact synonyms, others have a slightly different use. The main point is that the words that are provided have a similar meaning.
This website might seem like just another online dictionary but it's particularly helpful when it comes to pronunciation. If you look at the definition of a word on this site, it will give you the option of looking at the pronunciation in a phonetic way, which means they spell the word the way that it sounds.
An example of this is the word "debt", which is when one person owes money to another person. Most students think this word is pronounced the way it's spelled, but if you check this site and look at the phonetic spelling, you'll notice it says "det", which helps you realize that the letter "b" is silent and not pronounced at all!
Another benefit is that it breaks words into syllables and then tells you which syllable is stressed by using bold. For example, a difficult word like "initiative" is first written more phonetically "ih-nish-uh-tiv" so that you know how to say it (which is different than it looks). It is also separated into syllables so that you know how many sounds the word has. In this case, "initiative" has four syllables 1-2-3-4. Then you'll see on the website that the 2nd syllable is stressed because it's in bold: "ih-nish-uh-tiv" so you know to say this second syllable stronger than the others. It sounds like "ih-NISH-uh-tiv".
On this site you'll notice that the phonetic pronunciation of some words includes a sound "uh" (the 3rd syllable of "initiative" has this sound). The "uh" sound is like the "u" sound in "under", so if you see any syllables with "uh" it's like that sound.