It is very important that you find and use a good dictionary. How can you tell if it is a good dictionary? If you can find the words you need and understand the definitions, it is a good dictionary. I recommend that you use a learner’s dictionary first. Please try all of the dictionaries listed below until you find one or two that you like.
- Macmillan Dictionary and Thesaurus
- Merriam-Webster Dictionary and Thesaurus
- Merriam-Webster’s Learner Dictionary
- Merriam-Webster Visual Dictionary Online
- Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English
- Oxford Learner’s Dictionary
- Cambridge Learner’s Dictionary
- Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary
- Collins American English for Learners
- This is part of Dictionary.com’s website. Vocabulary can be studied at different levels (elementary, middle, high school, college), focussed on different topics (computers & business, English, fine & performing arts, math, science, social studies), or concentrated on a wide range of exams (TOEFL but not IELTS).
- This is a very cool website that will help with vocabulary study based on websites that you are reading. Although it does not have IELTS vocabulary, it does select SAT/ACT vocabulary.
- This is an excellent website if you want to work on the morphemes of English (i.e. the small sounds). You probably don’t want to spend hours on this, but it is useful to know how the sound is made and to remind yourself from time to time how you should say it.
- This is my favourite online dictionary. The definitions are fairly easy to understand and the sound feature is very fast and clear. It is important to know the meaning of the words AND how to say them. The pronunciation key can help you to identify the stressed syllable(s).
- This dictionary has good clear definitions. One very helpful feature is that it breaks the words into syllables and identifies the stress. HOWEVER, the sound feature is slow and requires a pop-up, which is often blocked automatically by many browsers.
Stress in Words
- Incorrect word stress can be a big obstacle to clear speaking. This is the best flashcard maker app that I have found to help correct this. There is a free version that allows you to make flashcards; HOWEVER, the best feature of this app is the sound feature. For $2.99 or $3.99 (no ads), you can hear the words as they should be pronounced. The voice is computer generated, but it is the best computer generated voice that I have heard. You can create flashcards with words that are important to you in your majors or in daily life and work carefully to understand where the stress is in each word.
Easy Listening Material
Listening to lectures and video online is a good way to improve your pronunciation and develop a sense of rhythm and intonation.
- Ted Talks – Many of these lectures have transcripts that can be very useful in helping you study which words are stressed, where paused are inserted, and how emphasis is used to add meaning.
- TedEd Lessons Worth Sharing – This is a good selection of lectures and material for teachers and students.
- HowStuffWorks – This is an excellent site with texts and video that are usually at a Grade 11 to 12 level.