ozdic.com: an online collocation dictionary, at last!

It has been a long time since the ast post, but I hadn’t found anything worth posting. Today I want to introduce you to a new resource I have been waiting for a long time. It is an on-line collocation dictionary and its name is ozdic.comIt is very useful for your writing tasks and even when planning any speech for your class or work.

Most of the times, we stick ourselves to the same combination of words, basically because we are unable to find other words to use or combine with the ones we need. There is when a collocation dictionary like this comes handy. Don’t get frustrated if you don’t know what to write or how to describe something, got to a collocation dictionary and part of the problem is sorted.

Imagine you have to write about your holidays in a little village and you need to describe it. Sometimes we end up describing the place as nice or friendly, but there are more possibilities, as the picture shows, there are a wide range of options we can choose from, it is only us now to pick the most convenient to our interest.

It is also useful if we don’t know how to combine a verb or noun. Remember that most languages have their natural way of mixing words which we need to be aware of so we do not get misunderstood. Take for example the noun “research”, in most cases students use “do” or, in the worst case scenario, “make” which is incorrect. If you look up in a collocation dictionary, you can find out what are the verbs and adjectives most convenient for this noun. Take a look at the picture to check what has been said.
 Hope this brief tutorial can be of help. Any contribution os more than welcome.

Verbling: practice the language with native speakers

In this post, I want to talk you about Verbling, a website designed for students of English as a foreign language to get in touch with native English speakers from around the world and practice in real time. It is meant to be an exchange between you and your chat partner: 5 minutes for each language.

On top of that, if you don’t know what to talk about, the site itself gives you the possibility of choosing a topic you like and proposes a question that could help as a conversation starter. All you need is a mic, a webcam and an email address. About privacy, these guys are in control of everything and they will not provide any personal information to anybody. You should also remember not to do it yourself!

Ups, nearly forgot! This website is not meant for under 13.

More help to improve your writing: writingfun.com

writingfu.com logo

When learning a foreign language writing and speaking are the two most frustrating skills students have to deal with; the former being a real stone in the shoe that may lead to quitting. There are many reasons for that, but the basic problem is that writing is a very demanding skill, it needs to be highly organized and structured. On top of that the person(s), whom the piece of writing is meant for, are not present, what implies an extra effort in providing the information in full, nothing can be left aside. I bet you are already yawning or put off just with the thought of it. Well, it is time for you to take a look at the website I am introducing today Writing Fun. Jenny Eather has gathered all the basic types of writing and made a useful presentation using the latest technology in order to help ESL students with their writing skills. There you will find explanations, exercises, printables and examples of how to write and organize your ideas in formal and informal pieces of writing. By the way, I must thank Laura Martín (ESL teacher at EOI Las Palmas) for the tip.

 

Linguee: a new way of searching for meanings

 

In this post I would like to introduce you to a new tool which would be of great help with your writing. As you can see in the picture, the name of the tool is Linguee.com and it is a search engine for words and expressions in multiple languages and their translation in various contexts. It also provides the user with helpful information and examples. Although specifically meant for translators, Linguee.com can be used by students of English as a kind of thesaurus. You type the word you want to know the use of and the engine will bring you a set of different sentences with the specific word in a variety of meanings and contexts. One thing to bear in mind, Linguee.com is not a dictionary. Here you have a link to their about-us page.

Congratulations ELLA (English Language Lab Asturias)

They say no news is good news, but this time there is news and very good ones. ELLA (English Language Lab Asturias), a site devoted to integrate language learning and new technologies, has been awarded the European Seal for  innovative initiatives at foreign language teaching and learning by the European Council. 


This award means an institutional recognition to several years of hard work and passion on the grounds of English teaching. With this post I would like to pay a tribute to the ELLA team who are not only very good friends, but, most important, a model to follow for those who are trying hard to make from technology a fundamental tool in ESL/EFL teaching.


Very well done guys!!! 


PD: Here is the link to a previous post on ELLA.

English Central: A fun way of dealing with pronunciation.

 

http://www.englishcentral.com/en/videos

First of all, I must thank Maria from EOI Santa Brígida for the tip. English Central is a new attemp to make English Learning fun and effective. The idea is to watch a video, record your own voice repeating  the lines on the screen, then their speech recognition technology will analyze yours and give inmediate feedback. The aim is to help ESL students with their   pronuntiation by comparing their speech with that of a native. If you are a group of students who enjoy on-line gaming, you can also set a challange for your group and compete to see who is the best.  There are more features to this brilliant site, but I’d rather let you discover them by yourself. 

Lyrics Training


Every year students ask for more music, specially their
favourite songs, to be introduced in the lessons, but most of the times we do not devote enough time to implement this resource in the classroom. Sorry, I must say I do not devote enough time, I shouldn’t include my efficient colleagues who, I know, have seen long ago how much music can help their students to improve their learning, language speaking, of course. But now there is no excuse, a friend of mine has just sent me a link to this wonderful site which has made me reconsider my ideas about it. Lyrics Training is here to help teachers and learners use songs and lyrics as a tool for ESL, in their own words: “Lyrics Training is an easy and fun method to learn and improve your foreign languages skills like English through the music and lyrics of the songs.” Do I need to say more… follow the link and do not waste time,

http://www.lyricstraining.com/index.php

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MULTIMEDIA ENGLISH CLASSROOM

I have already talked about this site on this blog, but I thought it was a good idea reminding those who are new to all this. MEC is a multimedia website meant for English learners to improve their language skills. Here are a few words about themselves and their aims: “(…) a free online classroom to learn English, designed for students from all around the world. It uses authentic material and is targeted at students of English who already have a basic knowledge of the language, but there’s also a complete section for beginners. If you can read this and understand it (at least the general idea), then this virtual classroom is for you!(…)” Below you have the link to their website, there is also the possibility to follow their posts on Facebook.

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>More language exchange sites

>Hello dear students! A few weeks ago, I recommended you a website where you would be able to find people who are looking for partners to practice their speaking skills via Skype. Today I want to introduce you to two different websites which have the same aim, but different approaches.

  1. busuu.com: It is a social network like facebook or myspace but their main goal is not only to provide partners to practice your language, but you can also find all sort of exercises from various levels you can take and the same network users will correct. They are sponsored by the UNESCO and even teach Gomeran wistle language! Amazin site, isn’t it?
  2. babelan: In this case, this a languages site to find native people for a language exchange. It also allows to search and offer language classes and translations services. It also provides a Global language exchange (messenger, e-mail, voice) area. This is where you can find native people to practice your target language from home, just with your e-mail, messenger or voice software.

>Twitter Poll: A socialnetwork experiment

> Howdy! Hope you are all studying for the exams next week. I remind you I’ll be away on Wednesday and Thursday, because I’m attending an EEOOII national congress in Las Palmas. Anyway, the reason for this post is that I have just discovered a way of creating polls which can be helpful in class. At the moment it is only an experment, I’m just waiting to see what the outcome is and then I may find a way of introducing them in some lessons: to create discussion groups or viceversa, after a debate we could create a poll and find out what the general opinion about a particular topic is. At the moment I have the first question: