Category Archives: Dictionaries

Six Amazing Websites that Make Your Writing Stronger

Long writing activities are not very frequently done in class. I tend to think that my students are like me; I need the right kind of atmosphere. Writing requires time, silence and lots of inspiration. Ideally, at this time of the year, I would probably wish to be sitting next to a fireplace with the most perfect instagrammable snow falling outside my window while drinking a nice cup of coffee waiting for inspiration to strike. Unfortunately, there isn’t any snow where I live so I’ll have to make do with a bit of rain and some reddish trees. Note: you won’t find “instagrammable” in the dictionary 🙂

Inspiration, the most important word when writing and something my students claim to lack. Inspiration won’t come from your computer screen, but Internet can certainly help you a lot when struggling to find the right word. 

These are some great sites that can help you make your writing stronger.

Photo by Tekke

1. Skell (Sketch Engine for Language Learning) explores the English language in more than one billion words from news, scientific papers, Wikipedia articles, fiction books, web pages, and blogs.

Skell is easy to use.

  • Search for a word or a phrase.
  • Click on Examples to get the most presentable sentences containing this word.
  • Click on Word sketch to get a list of words which occur frequently together with the searched word.
  • Click on Similar words (not only synonyms) where you’ll find words used in similar contexts visualized with a word cloud.

 

2.Netspeak is a really helpful site to help you write better. It helps you find the word or phrase you’re looking for by suggesting common combinations organised by frequency.

You can find the word(s) you’re looking for by typing signs as seen in the picture below.

  • Type ? in your query before, after or in the middle to find a missing word. Type ?? or ??? if you want to find two or three words.
  • Use dots (…) to find one, two, or more words at the same time.
  • Use square brackets to check which of two or more words is most common, or if none applies. For example: think [ of in ]
  • Use curly brackets to check in which order two or more words are commonly written { only for members }
  • To find the best synonym, use the hash sign in front of a word to check which of its synonyms are commonly written.

If you want to read some sample sentences, you only need to click the + sign

 

3. Just the word is a simple quick collocation finder you are going to love.

  • Enter the word or phrase you want to search
  • Click on “combinations” to see the most common words it collocates with and after each combination, you’ll find its frequency in their corpus (about 80,000,000 words of the BNC).
  • In the right-hand frame, you’ll find the part (s) of speech and the types of relation that the word is found in. For example, if you’re looking for the right adjective to modify a noun you’ve chosen, click on the ‘ADJ mod <word>’ link.

 

4. Words to Use is a nice neat site, which unlike a thesaurus groups theme-related words by parts of speech. Each theme, from “animals” to “vehicles” is divided by parts of the speech- adjectives, nouns, verbs, types of…, phrases, etc.

Are you looking for adjectives that collocate with “movies”? The site lists over 200 adjectives listed in alphabetical order.

Do you want to use a negative word that collocates with “friends”? Or maybe a verb frequently used to refer to friendship? Then, you might want to give this site a try!

 

5. Collins English Thesaurus

There are some very good thesauruses /θɪˈsɔːrʌɪ/  online, but this one is my favourite.

But, what is a thesaurus and what is the difference between a dictionary and a thesaurus?

A “thesaurus” /θɪˈsɔːrəs/  is a reference work that lists words grouped together according to similarity of meaning (containing synonyms and sometimes antonyms ), in contrast to a dictionary, which provides definitions for words, and generally lists them in alphabetical order. The main purpose of such reference works is to help the user “to find the word, or words, by which an idea may be most fitly and aptly expressed. (source Wikipedia). Unlike a dictionary, a thesaurus does not give you the meaning or the pronunciation of a word.

 

6. Pro Writing Aid is a fantastic free site that will help you with the final stage of the writing process. This is a tool you want to use after you have written something, to improve it.

Paste the text you want to edit by pressing Ctrl+V. There is a maximum of 3,000 words.

Press the ‘Analyze’ button. A window will appear while the analysis is being run.

Once the analysis is complete the processing window will disappear and the summary screen for your analysis will be displayed. This will give you an overview of any issues and suggestions found in your writing.

 

You might want to have a look at this post “Six Wonderful Sites to Help you Write, Speak and Sound Better” I published last year.

Blog de Cristina is also on Facebook. Follow us!

Thanks for reading! 🙂

Lingro: a Cool Way to Read and Increase your Vocabulary

Everybody knows  that one of the best ways to acquire new vocabulary is by reading, but what do you normally do? Do you look up new words as you come across them while you’re reading, do you write them down to look them up later  when you put down your book,or do you just skip them and try to infer their meanings?

If you should ask me, most of the times I try to  work out the meaning of words. I try to figure out what the words mean by looking at the context. However, I have to admit, that when I am reading on my iPad I find myself looking up words much more often  than when I am reading a book or something on the Internet, and this is thanks to the built in dictionary that makes things easier and even fun; I sometimes play against myself trying to guess the meaning of a word and then checking in the dictionary.

We could say that Lingro works like a built in dictionary, too. Lingro is an amazing free website that can facilitate a lot the reading process.

How does it work?

  • Enter the website address to make all the words on the page clickable
  • Click on any word to see its definition in English or in any other 11 languages
  • Register if you want create and categorize word lists and play  flashcard games
  • It’s free. Registering is optional

 

The quiz: 13 Modern Words Recently Added to the Dictionary in 2015

Three years ago, a colleague of mine wrote the word “selfie” on the board. She says none of her students knew what the word meant. Nowadays, even my great grandmother, should I have one, would most definitely know what a “selfie” is, and would probably have taken one or two to send her peers.

It is said that the English language has more words than any other language in the world and it seems it might be true. The Oxford Dictionary Online stores over 600,000 words. Despite this number, new words are coined, clipped and blended all the time and although some of them are very soon forgotten, others make their way into the dictionary.
But how do they choose the words they include in a dictionary? The answer is simple: people need to use them. Basically editors watch the word for several years to see how it is used in both spoken and written English. They check to see that the word is used to express an idea clearly, and that the idea is understood. Then, when the word is seen in writing and speech regularly, it can go in the dictionary.

New words are added every year, but also words that are no longer used are eliminated.

Every year, the Oxford Dictionary selects a Word of the Year. “Selfie” was chosen Word of the Year three years ago. This year, the award has been given to the emoji (plural emoji or emojis) Face with Tears of Joy. The decision to choose a pictogram as word of the year, when it is clearly not a word, has been publicly criticized by many. But despite the selection of this word being frowned upon in many circles, the question to consider is: if words are used to communicate, aren’t emojis also used to communicate feelings and emotions in this new digital era?

So, as stated above, lots of new words enter the dictionaries every year. In this little quiz below you will find some of the most recent additions to the dictionaries

Are you up to the challenge?

Blog de Cristina is also on Facebook. Click to follow

 

 

A New Online Bilingual Dictionary : Diccionario Pedagógico Bilingüe

 

There are a few online bilingual dictionaries available to learners these days. A good thing no doubt, but what do you think they have in common (quite unappealingly, mind)? Advertising.

Every time you use one of those bilingual dictionaries (or monolingual for that matter), you are exposed to ads ˗ right, left, and centre. Annoying and distracting. It seems like nothing is really free, doesn´t it?

Well, no more! There is a new kid on the block and its name is Diccionario Pedagógico Bilingüe (English-Spanish Español-Inglés). This dictionary has been edited by Francisco Sánchez Benedito and Francisco Gámez Gámez, two experts in their field.

Diccionario Pedagógico Bilingüe was seven years in the making, and had a big editorial team behind it. I joined the team in late 2009 (if my memory serves) when Francisco Sánchez Bendito offered me the opportunity to work on the dictionary, initially as a proofreader, then also as an assistant editor.

What makes the dictionary stand out among the competition, you might ask? It is, first and foremost, a learner´s dictionary. Its purpose is to teach Spanish-speaking students how to use English words correctly. To do that, it covers lots of grammatical and lexical collocations, the heart of the language. Idioms, colloquialisms, phrasal verbs ˗ and even taboo language ˗ are also given special attention. The dictionary boasts almost 70,000 headwords and over 100,000 translations, a truly comprehensive work. It is not unlikely that you will find words in Diccionario Pedagógico Bilingüe that are not listed in other bilingual dictionaries.

 

So there you have it: a useful dictionary, with the expertise of a large team, freely available to everyone and… no ads! What more could you ask for?

Making the most of your dictionary

Whenever you´re browsing the internet, keep a tab open for the dictionary so that you can look up any unfamiliar words you may come across, quickly and easily.

Moreover, get into the habit of reading all senses of any given word (this goes for monolingual dictionaries too), not just the sense that fits a particular context. This will help you expand your vocabulary, at least your passive vocabulary ˗ those words you can understand when reading or listening. Using bilingual and monolingual dictionaries on a regular basis will really pay off. Take my word for it.

You can start searching the dictionary at http://diccionariopedagogicobilingue.uma.es/INDEX.PHP

This article has been written by guest blogger Javier Vallestero. Some years ago , Javier did  a round of interviews to different teachers and I was one of the chosen . You can read the interview here

Javier is also the proud writer of Modismos, Dichos y Refranes de la Lengua Inglesa and has collaborated actively as a proofreader and assistant editor on the Diccionario Pedagógico Bilingüe  .

Six Wonderful Sites to Help you Write, Speak and Sound Better

I’m not a native speaker. Even though I read, write, work and I would almost dare say live  and dream in  English, I haven’t learned the language from birth and sometimes have moments of self-doubt. These websites I am going to share in this post have been an invaluable help.

Blog de Cristina is also on Facebook. FOLLOW IT!

 

Howjsay  and Forvo: The world’s largest dictionaries of English Pronunciation

How often have you come across a proper name you had no clue how to pronounce and you desperately needed to know the  correct standard  pronunciation of or perhaps  a variant pronunciation of this word?  Let’s say you want to know the pronunciation of the word “selion”. You go to the most important online dictionaries offering pronunciation, but the word you’re looking up is not there and you suddenly begin to panic. At this stage you can do three things: panic, pretend you know how to pronounce it ( you just know how to sound British, no problem there) or look up the word in any of these two amazing sites that have saved my skin countless times.

Linguee

We all know how difficult it is to write, even more in a foreign language. More often than not we look up words in dictionaries only to find that it offers so many possibilities for the translation of the word that  we don’t know which one to choose for the context we need. In fact, sometimes it doesn’t help us at all but makes things more complicated as we don’t know which word to use to mean what we want to express and we end up completely frustrated. Here, Linguee can help us as it is a bilingual dictionary but  in context

Phraseup

Sometimes we know what we want to write, the sentence is phrased in our mind, but we can’t figure out some of the words we need. This is where phraseup*comes in. It assists you with writing, by suggesting possible combinations to fill-in the words you can’t remember. Each suggestion is accompanied by definitions, synonyms and translations to other languages.
Imagine you know there is an expression containing the words ” take” and “granted” but you have forgotten what goes in the middle, PhraseUp can help you here, too. Just type the words that you remember and put an asterisk * where you want the application to insert something. Very useful, isn’t it?

Or maybe  you want to use the verb+preposition combination “cope with” but you are just not sure which words it collocates with, just type it in PhraseUp and options will be provided.

Ozdic.com

I have been using ozdic.com for years and this is a dictionary I cannot live without. It is not any dictionary, it also help you to sound more natural when speaking or writing in English. Let’s  say you don’t know the preposition that collocates with the verb “insist”, or which adverbs sound  more natural with this verb; let’s imagine you need to use the word “idea” but you have no clue what adjective to use  apart from the overused “good “. Go to the dictionary now, this is just a sample of what you’ll find : bright, brilliant, clever, excellent,, marvellous | valuable, worthwhile | exciting, inspirational, interesting, stimulating | constructive, positive | absurd, bad, mistaken, ridiculous | , crazy, mad, outlandish, wild | half-baked | ambitious, big, grand.

The dictionary contains over 150,000 collocations for nearly 9,000 headwords and it is based on the 100 million word British National Corpus.

Text2Phonetics 

It is a wonderful tool that can save a lot of time if you need to transcribe something. I have tried it with small texts (two or three lines) and it’s incredible! You will be able to  pronounce a whole text perfectly .
Just paste the text you want to transcribe and click the Transcribe Button to get the transcription.

Sentence Your Dictionary: a great help

Hello everyone! I hope you have a  happy Monday!!

In this blog I have published a handful of links to different dictionaries  and today I want to share with you one  I’ve been using quite  a lot lately. Yourdictionary.com  has a lot of
tools to help you understand and use  a word .

It provides the user with simple and clear definitions, synonyms, quotes where the  word is used, the etymology of the word…etc,  but the tool I  like best and the main reason why I keep coming back to this dictionary is the SEE IN A SENTENCE tool, because very often, to understand  the meaning of a word  you need more than the definition. Seeing how the word is used in a sentence, seeing how the word is used in a context is a great help for the non-native speaker.

I seriously wish I had so many good dictionaries for free when I first started studying English. They would have made my life so much easier!

WordHippo: an Online Dictionary and Much More

Word Hippo is a very useful online dictionary for students and for teachers. I absolutely adore the pink hippo but this is just something to add up to the list of reasons why I like this site. Word Hippo is very simple to use and everything is on the same site.

Do you need to find a synonym to avoid repeating one word (for example, I’m really tired of my students saying and writing  I think that all the time), here you’ll find not only synonyms of the word you are looking up ,but also its antonyms. You will also find the meaning of the word and its translation, words that rhyme with it and you can even get its plural/singular, if it is a noun, or its past/present if it is a verb. Amazing , isn’t it? But more is coming…. You can have your word pronounced and if you type a name , say Christina for example, it gives you its meaning (follower of Christ) and its origin, among other things. But what I like best about this dictionary  is that you can get Example Sentences where your word will be used in context, and this is something I really appreciate as I’m not a morning person and sometimes when I need to prepare a lesson in the morning I spend an awful lot of time, time I don’t have , looking for the right sentence to exemplify meaning.

So, definitely, WordHippo will be among my favourite dictionaries this year.

Using a Song to Revise Vocab Related to Fashion

This song will fit like a glove if you are learning/teaching a Fashion- and- Clothes related semantic field.
This song You Look Good on Me is performed by Natasha Bedingfield, one of my favourite singers, and though I don’t think she had English teachers on her mind when she wrote it, the thing is that it is just perfect for teaching fashion and clothes related vocabulary. So, this is how I am planning to use it with my intermediate students- nothing to write home about, really. I intend to play the song as a revision exercise, so my students will already be familiar with most of the words/expressions in the song.

First and Second Time– they listen to the song twice without seeing the lyrics and in pairs they will have to write down as many words as they identify, related to the above- mentioned semantic field. Students, in turns, say the words or expressions they’ve jotted down and explain them to the rest of the class while I write them on the board for everybody to see.

Once this is done, I’ll write on the board the words/expressions they‘ve missed and ask students to explain the meaning of them.

♥Finally I’ll give them the lyrics or display them with OHP ( we need to save the planet, don’t we? – even though it is a small drop in the ocean, it is still something)

Here’s the song

 

Here are the lyrics

Da da da da da da
Oo oo oo
Da da da da da da

Goin’ on a shopping spree
Pick something out to look good on me
I want quality
Not quantity
Want a classic
Not a trend
Casual yet still high end
I know what I want
and I’m not afraid to spend

So if you
Fit me tight but let me breathe
Let me wear your heart on my sleeve
Be the thread that winds the seams
You could look so good on me
Fit me like a second skin
My favourite jeans that I could live in
Wouldn’t need accessories
You would look so good on me

I’m checking out
Goods on display
Don’t play it safe or too risque
I’m done window shopping
I’m ready to pay
I’m going up
Fifth floor
The best stuff’s in store
Cos that’s where they keep
What every girl would die for

So if you
Fit me tight but let me breathe
Let me wear your heart on my sleeve
Be the thread that winds the seams
You could look so good on me
Fit me like a second skin
My favourite jeans that I could live in
Wouldn’t need accessories
You would look so good on me

ahh ahh ahhh
da da da da da da

ahh ahh ooo

Everything’s perfect
When you’re looking through the glass
The colours can fade as seasons pass
This time I wanna, wanna nail them to the mast

Fit me tight but let me breathe
Let me wear your heart on my sleeve
Be the thread that winds the seams
You could look so good on me
Fit me like a second skin
My favourite jeans that I could live in
Wouldn’t need accessories
You would look so good on me

Fit me tight but let me breathe
Let me wear your heart on my sleeve
Be the thread that winds the seams
You could look so good on me
Fit me like a second skin
My favourite jeans that I could live in
Wouldn’t need accessories
You would look so good on me

Shahi: a Cool Visual Dictionary

I’ve just found the perfect dictionary for my classes. It’s been love at first sight!!!

Did you know that we learn 10% of what we read; 20% of what we hear; 30% of what we see ???Oh my goodness ! and I wonder why my students seem to have forgotten everything they have learned during the whole year over their summer holidays!

The good news is that the combination of what we read,hear, see and discuss reaches 70%  and that’s my point with this dictionary. Shahi is a cool visual dictionary. You just type the word you need to know  and Shahi combines the definition for that word with images from Flikr, Google or Yahoo on the side bar. No more struggling when trying to explain what a rattlesnake or an anteater  is, just show them!!!.

And remember ” A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words”

A Cool Dictionary: Vocabulary.com

I just love this dictionary! Really ! I love it!  ♥ It’s one of those sites that is worth bookmarking. Have I mentioned it’s called Vocabulary.com?


You might be asking yourselves why all this enthusiasm over a simple dictionary but it’s just that when you see something that is really helpful not only to me, as a teacher, but also to students, you get all cheered up.

Why do I like it?
First it has The Challenge Section where you are posed questions about vocabulary and you are given points every time you answer correctly. Better to try it than to explain it! You can also compete against other people if you sign up.


Secondly, it has The Dictionary itself. If you sign up whenever you look up a word, you can add it to your learning queue. Each vocabulary word includes a short blurb that is easy to understand and fun to read. The dictionary also provides usage examples from real life, so you can see how words are used in context .

Third, The Vocabulary List . You can create your own list of words you need to revise and then do different activities to help you remember them. One of them includes audio.

Now, aren’t you dying to give it a go? Yes? Off you go!

Like Blog de Cristina? We are also on Facebook. Click here to follow

 

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...