Friday, December 28, 2007

8. For AMBITIOUS ESL-Students only (1)

Do you prefer a holistic and systematic approach ?. You like it to see the big picture first and then fill in the details ?, Learn, comprehend it here from scratch, from the real functional structure. The real BIG Picture.

Analyze Memorize Rise

Words Related and Opposite in Meaning
Roget’s II: The New Thesaurus, Third Edition, 1995

7. Effective Online Dictionaries

Let us be honest. There are numerous Online-Dictionaries out there, most of them are just useless. Let us speak about user-friendliness, about the capability and the quality of them for ESL Students.

What we really need:
Audio pronunciation, useful definitions,
different meanings, syllabication, stress marks/nucleus, and best possible information about word classes, function, derivations, inflected forms, transitivity, countable/uncountable or both, usage, varieties, idioms, phrases, collocations, proverbs, synonyms, antonyms, formal/informal speech labels.
We do need reliability and usability on a daily basis
. So don´t waste your time.


I´ve got an email from Warren Ediger,
see: . He just wanted to remind me of MSN´s Dictionary, which I´d forgotten. It´s a great site with effective definitions, collocations, word classes, inflected forms, Thesaurus and audio BUT it doesn´t support the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA), so you need to learn its own phonetic symbols (Or you don´t). I use this dictionary as tool for extensive lookups. But it isn´t an ESL-Dictionary, it is designed for nativ speaker. For example: The limited use of the verb "belong", there is not any comment about the progressive tense restriction. So it depends on your individual level of proficiency.


Second best:

Cambridge Advanced Learner´s Dictionary
You´ll get word classes, phonetics, inflected forms, collocations and there´s an option for idioms, phrases and American English. You can search with short phrases and idioms as well.

And an useful different version !!

Cambridge International Dictionary of Phrasal Verbs

Cambridge Dictionary of American English

Third place

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English
All in one, but limited audio features - nonetheless an effective dictionary.

(You have to click on this icon on their website)


Fourth place:

Merriam Webster

You´ll get the pronunciation with audio in a small pop up,
inflected forms, partly synonyms and word types.

Merriam Webster´s Pronunciation Dictionary with Audio:


Fifth place:

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language
(Their confusing website configuration is not that bad, you´ll get used to it. I like it for deep grammar lookups, you´ll find there everything about the English Language. Go there, give it a shot !, improve your English)


Sixt place:


Do some lookups for idioms, it´s THE Idiom Dictionary. It is compiled from the Cambridge International Dictionary of Idioms and the Cambridge Dictionary of American Idioms + Thesaurus. ____________________________________________________

Seventh place:
Juxtaposed American and British pronunciation audio files partly available.
E.g. for "Eat"


Eighth place:
All in One. But by far not the best, and they even charge users for getting their audio pronunciation.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

6. BBC, VOA, CNN ESL Podcast Resources

How I mentioned, my FAVORITE ESL Podcast Providers are: and

There are some more:

BBC Radio
BBC Learning
with free scripts
BBC Multimedia


Voice of America

Plain Podcasts/Videos:

CNN Podcasting

USA Today

5. My favorite ESL Podcast Providers vs. and

I don´t know which is better for YOU. I like and I recommend both of them. is run by the Center for Educational Development hosted by Dr. Jeff McQuillan, California. Podcasts and rudimentary transcripts are for free. If you want to get additional useful explanations about the topics and background information you have to subscribe for at least $10,00 per month.
The reading rate is slowed (70 %) and the topics are tagged in practical categories. The Podcasts are based on fictitious conversations between two people followed by retrospective explanations about the whole topic, phrases, idioms, certain words and typical language usage.
Some people don´t like the torpid affected language and I have to admit they have a point there.Those people prefer another podcast category: English Cafe with more natural language without conversation context.

Free Podcasts:

I really do like their podcasts beside the learning purpose. There are a lot of very interesting stories about - daily life, journeys, relationships, etc. You´ll find several grammar categories, interesting discussions and all that is spoken in natural language. Steve, Mark and Jill are from Vancouver, CA. There is also the site LINGQ.COM with 5 free transcripts and additional learning tools. If you want to get more transcripts you have to subscribe for at least $10,00 per month.

Free Podcasts:

Limited free stuff:

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

4. Pronunciation (1) - North American English + Video/Audio Exercises

If you really want to think about what you have to do in your mouth during speaking. Your tongue, your vocal cords, your lips, your teeth, it´s your voice.
(University of Iowa)

It´s one of the best scientific pronunciation links ever.
Take your time, do exercises and improve your "English".
* * *
You think you know all about Vowel Charts, or it doesn´t really matter ? Here your are:
(Interactive with audio, move your mouse cursor above the symbols and "click")

My favorite pronunciation site:

3. What you really need to know about the New York Times.

They´re nice liberal people from the east coast. They understand the problems of ESL - Readers (and of uneducated immigrants in the first place, I suppose).
And that´s why there´s a great application: All N.Y.-Times articles are word to word connected with a dictionary. To find reference information about the words used in their articles, double-click on any word, phrase or name. A new window will open with a dictionary definition or encyclopedia entry.

2. Free Online Picture Dictionaries

There are a lot of more or less challenging Free Online Picture Dictionaries, partly interactive and with audio explanations too.

Scientific: + Audio
Very interesting and detailed:
With audio:
Innovative: explanations:



Unpronounced or unstressed silent letters are one of the obstacles ESL students are really afraid of. There are mostly no rules for. I´ve selected lots of them from different sources. Take care ! they are chosen for American English. Most of them are correct in British English too, but there are many exceptions.

V I E W the Silent Letters on

Download the - Silent Letters - as pdf file (52 KB)
Selected words with silent/unstressed letters V.03 (Focus AE)

Download via

Download via


Spelling trouble ?, Silent letters in word endings ?

- iz or - ize ?

There aren´t any words ending in "English" with - iz besides some names and "quiz", "biz", "viz" and "wiz"..
It is always spelled - ize and never - iz !

- iv or - ive ?

There aren´t any words ending in "English" with - iv besides some names and "spiv".
It is always spelled - ive and never - iv !

(And I wasn´t able to find ONE adjective that ends with - bel, it´s always - ble, beside constructions like "label strips" or "own-label")

Spelling trouble with silent letters in word endings + adverb suffixes ?
There´s a simple rule until you achieve enough proficiency to know all those words:

? Which one is right spelled:

Immediatly or Immediatley or Immediately ?

The ending ..TLY follows always a consonant
The ending ..TELY follows always a vowel

(see exceptions)

Consonant -> TLY
Vowel -> TELY (ately, etely, itely, otely, utely)


So, is there a vowel before t then

a vowels follows the t - tely

Exceptions: Explicitly, Implicitly, Illicitly, Tacitly, Flatly, Hotly, Greatly, Neatly, Discreetly, Quietly, Secretly, Sweetly, Wetly, Adroitly, Devoutly, Stoutly, Tautly

Is there a consonant before t then

a consonant (L) follows the t - tly

Exception: Chastely

You can find 4,900,000 Google entries with the wrong spelled word "immediatly" with omitted e and 246,000,000 right spelled entries for immediately.

And funny, you can find 725,000 entries with "immediatley"