It won’t be an exaggeration if I say that English is the language of this world. Although Mandarin (Chinese) tops the list of most widely spoken languages, we know that it’s English which connects people around the world. Hence, it can’t hurt to get a deeper understanding of this ubiquitous language and work towards improving your grammar and vocabulary.
When it comes to online resources to improve your English language skills, there are millions of tools available. They range from software, tools, blogs, dictionaries, puzzles and much more. In this post I primarily mention websites which fall in the dictionary / thesaurus category. I’ll preserve the other resources for another post.
Visuwords is an awesome visual tool to find new words and improve your vocabulary. When you look up a word in this tool, it shows a neat graph which connects that word to various other words based on different relationships between them. You can hover over each word to get its definition and also zoom-in and zoom-out using your mouse wheel. It’s certainly an excellent dictionary plus thesaurus.
Dictionary.com is probably the most common and most comprehensive of all the dictionary tools available. Apart from giving the word meanings and pronunciation, it also provides various tools (like the dictionary.com toolbar), RSS feeds to improve vocabulary and word explorer podcasts.
- Thesaurus.com is a part of dictionary.com and gives an elaborate description of words, the part of speech they belong to and various synonyms and antonyms of that word.
- Definr, as it says, is an incredibly fast dictionary. It starts suggesting the nearest possible word as you start typing a particular word. Most of the time you get the required word after typing 3 or 4 letters and then you can just click on the word to look up its meaning. Definr also provides some nice tools which make this service more useful.
- Merriam-Webster Online
Merriam-Webster Online is a huge online resource for learning and improving your English. It provides dictionary and thesaurus which includes spanish-english and medical dictionaries. You can easily look up words and listen to their pronunciation. Further it provides other resources like crosswords and word games. It also has a visual dictionary which combines words with images.
MetaGlossary.com approaches the task of finding meanings of words in a different way. It aggregates various links on the web which provide an explanation to the term and shows the results. Hence it does the job of pulling definitions of the word from the entire web.
Thsrs helps you to get shorter synonyms of long words. Although it’s not dead accurate but still can be useful at times. It also provides a browser plug-in to easily look up shorter synonyms of words with a right click.
Wordsmith is a nice resource for new words, especially its ‘ A Word A Day ‘ newsletter, which is immensely popular and delivers new words everyday to your email inbox.
- BBC Learning English
BBC Learning English is another comprehensive resource of not only English grammar and vocabulary but on various aspects of this useful language. It includes stories, pictures, quizzes and various communication tools to improve your English vocabulary.
- ESL Quizzes
ESL Quizzes is a part of englishclub.com, a website which is a prominent destination for those who want to learn the language from scratch. Its vocabulary quiz section has some nice quizzes to help you learn new words and phrases.
- Ninjawords, like Definr, claims to be a very fast dictionary. Although it doesn’t show words as you type like Definr but is certainly very fast in displaying the meanings and synonyms once you hit enter. It also has a random tab which can be used to play around and learn new words.
- About.com’s Quizzes
About.com’s English Quizzes is a good place to find various quizzes related to grammar and vocabulary. It also provides listening quizzes for real time listening practice.
- Thinkmap Visual Thesaurus
Thinkmap Visual Thesaurus is a free-to-try visual tool which shows related words in an interactive map and helps you to easily find their meanings and listen to their pronunciation.
AskOxford is the online version of the famous dictionary by the Oxford University press. It’s comprehensive without a doubt and includes various other vocabulary resources and a quotations dictionary.
- Urban Dictionary
Urban Dictionary stands out from the herd. It’s a dictionary of slang words. So use this dictionary and don’t miss out on slang words either. 🙂
- Alpha DictionaryAlpha Dictionary doesn’t directly show you the meaning of a word. Instead it searches all the available online dictionaries (most of them) and displays the results in the form of links to the meaning of that word in those dictionaries. So choose your favorite dictionary (if at all you have one) and click on the corresponding link to view its meaning.Each of the aforementioned websites tries to accomplish the same task in a different manner and hence helps you to further refine your vocabulary and get a stronger grip on the world’s most cherished language.
Do you use any other websites to improve your English language skills ? Let’s hear about them in the comments.
|Written by Abhijeet Mukherjee. Abhijeet is a blogger and web publisher from India. He loves all things tech as long as it aids in productivity. He edits Guiding Tech, a blog that publishes useful guides, tutorials and tools. Check it out and subscribe to its feed if you like the site. You can also find him on Twitter.||Photo Credit: teacherhax|