by HENRIETTE FREESE
Do you need some additional resources to improve your English skills outside the classroom? We’ve created a great selection of free online resources that focus on different areas of language learning. Let’s go!
Improve your English pronunciation skills through Forvo, a huge database with English words recorded by native speakers. You can find over 136,000 pronounced words and more are added every day. If you’re ever unsure how certain words are pronounced and have no one to ask, you should visit this great database. It helps you with countless other languages too, such as French, German, Korean or Persian, just to name a few.
As another listening focused online tool, RhinoSpike enables language learners around the world to exchange language audio files. Users can submit texts that they want to have read out by native speakers, native speakers connected to the system record the text and send you the audio file. If you respond to Audio Requests yourself your request will move up higher in the queue. The system works on a “give and share” basis and is completely free. Currently there are more than 16,800 recordings in English and many other languages can be found too.
Lang 8 is a social network for language exchange and has over 750,000 users from all over the world covering more than 190 countries and 90 languages. The focus here is on writing in a foreign language and it works just as Rhinospike on a give and receive basis. You can post a text, have native speakers correct it for you and you can contribute by correcting other text submissions in your native language.
Memrise is a community-driven flashcard site that uses audio, visual aids and mnemonics in order to help you learn a language faster. Mnemonic devices are learning techniques that aid information retention in the human memory and connect the original information together with something more practical and meaningful, so it stays in your mind. For practicing there are different options and varieties to choose from, so your studies really get switched up.
Vocab Sushi is an interactive and free vocabulary builder and a great tool if you are studying for a language test. Like with real sushi, the words are broken into bite-sized learning. Instead of being presented with boring definitions you learn words through real-world sentences from news articles appropriate for your English level. Features also include management of your wordlists, sentence completion, article reader, games and more. The system keeps track of your progress, eliminates words you have already learned and makes sure that you are presented with more relevant words for you in order to process.
Anki is a flashcard program using spaced repetition as a learning technique. While their mobile apps for iPhone/Android need to be purchased, their desktop version is completely free. This is how it works: The program presents you the front side of a flashcard that has, for example, a word in your language. You then have to record that word in English. Based on your answer and how you rated the difficulty, the system adapts to the data and determines after what time you will be presented with that card again. This way you will only ever see the material that is most relevant for you. You can create your own flashcards or browse Ankiweb, where you can download some extensive sets of cards for English as well as many other topics. Anki’s interface is more complex than the other tools in the beginning, but once you spent some time with it, it can be incredibly helpful and customizable for your studies.
We hope that one or more of these resources will help you to advance in English even faster! Share your own experiences in the comments below and let us know what works for you or if you are using another great online tool. If you would rather have personalized feedback and tips for your in-class material, make sure to come to our Study Lab every Monday – Thursday, 3:30pm – 4:40pm. It’s included in your tuition and we are happy to help you!