Today I’d like to introduce two simple tools that you can use to better understand new vocabulary. When you learn a new word, what information do you want to know about that word?
First, you probably want to know the meaning, so you check a dictionary and find the definition. Most online dictionaries also provide the pronunciation so that you can see and hear how it sounds. However, the pronunciation is sometimes robotic or unnatural. Maybe you want to hear more natural examples of the word used in conversation. This is when you can try https://youglish.com/
This tool allows you to search for a word and hear it used naturally in context in a YouTube video. You can select a US, UK, or Australian accent and find videos that contain the word. After listening to the first example (perhaps a few times), use the “next” button to check another video. An added bonus is that you sometimes discover very interesting YouTube videos this way!
After you know the meaning and the pronunciation of a word, you might want to find some example sentences, learn about the word’s collocations (other words that it often goes together with), and maybe even some related words. That’s when you can try https://skell.sketchengine.eu/#home?lang=en
When you search for a word on SKELL, you will see three sections (tabs): examples (many sentences that contain that word), word sketch (collocations), and similar words (synonyms and related words). The first two features are the most powerful, and they will help you to understand how a word is used in context.
The basic services are these tools are free to use and are available in many languages. I am not affiliated with either tool, but I do occasionally use them both in my lessons and recommend them to students who want to build their knowledge of English vocabulary.
I hope these tools will help you to build your vocabulary range in English!