SkELL: Sketch Engine for Language Learning reveals word usage

I’ve had “review Sketch Engine for e-Resources” on my to-do list for quite awhile now, because the site looks promising and like it may take some time to dig into. This tool can provide quite a bit of information about word usage: the various searches one can conduct are well-documented in a paper published by […]

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Phrases to get things done in English: Imber’s Verbal Stratagems

This simple and easy-to-use Verbal Stratagems website offers a robust collection of phrases for specific purposes, such as agreeing, checking for understanding, expressing gratitude, or making a suggestion. These phrases have been collected and maintained by Dr. Brenda P. Imber and Carson Maynard of the English Language Institute at the University of Michigan. The phrases […]

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Find common phrases with your words in Netspeak

A colleague’s student just introduced us to Netspeak, a project of Bauhaus Universitat of Weimar, Germany. The point of this website is to help writers select words and phrase structures when writing in English. Netspeak uses a huge Google database (corpus) of 1-word to 5-word phrases or “NGrams” that appear frequently in publicly-available web pages in […]

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MICUSP corpus of written academic papers

MICUSP, the Michigan Corpus of Upper-level Student Papers, is composed of papers with a grade of A from the University of Michigan written for upper undergraduate and early graduate courses. This searchable database makes it possible to see disciplinary differences in academic writing, to observe the various ways that a particular word or phrase is […]

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“Got a minute?” Scientific American offers one every day.

Do you want to work on vocabulary, fluency, pitch range, or interpreting technical content to a lay audience?  Scientific American is a long-established magazine that publishes articles on a broad range of scientific topics for non-specialists. One of my students led me to the groovy “60-Second Science” daily audio podcast, which always starts with the question, […]

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Use “Just The Word” to find phrases that sound great

Just The Word is a powerful tool for figuring out how a word patterns with other words: what are possible grammatical phrase structures for a word, and what words go with your search term? Just The Word uses a subset of 80 million words of the British National Corpus, a database of published written language and transcribed […]

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All the language learning you can do with NPR

“NPR” stands for “National Public Radio,” a not-for-profit radio network that emphasizes high quality, in-depth, long-form news and conversation. For advanced English language learning, the NPR website and apps are a gold mine for working on listening, vocabulary, and even pronunciation. Virtually all content can be downloaded for free. There are hundreds of different voices […]

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Preview a Reading with VocabGrabber

VocabGrabber, a tool from Thinkmap’s Visual Thesaurus, allows users to paste in up to 100 pages of text, and then see a visual display of the most frequent and most relevant vocabulary. If you have a transcript of something you want to listen to, you can also grab the spoken vocabulary in the same manner, […]

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Loads of free advanced English practice activities and tips on one website

L’Université de Franche-Comté in Besançon, France has a prominent “Applied Linguistics” program. Part of the way this program shares its expertise on language learning with the world is to host “English Online France” http://eolf.univ-fcomte.fr, a website with dozens of free interactive games, exercises, and tips for learning English independently.

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Common Errors in English Usage

“Common Errors in English Usage” represents one retired Comparative Literature professor’s effort to document the types of written errors that frequently appear in the writing of native speakers of American English. The content of the site is now available as a Kindle e-book, as a Twitter or podcast feed, as a long text list, and […]

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