You know, the web is a big place. There’s lots of information, but you just need the right tools to find them. You can learn a lot online, from how to tie a tie to how to make gadgets.
Likewise there are thousands of resources on the web that you can use to improve your English, here are a few of them that I’ve been using over years to brush up my language skills:
Online Dictionaries and Thesauri
Reference.com gives you free access to a feature rich online dictionary and a thesaurus to help you out when you can’t figure out what a word means to you. Plus, there are also other alternatives to try out like ‘The Free Dictionary’, etc.
And if you’re just a Google maniac like me, you can fetch the meaning of any word in an instant. Just type define: followed by a word in the Google search box. Press Enter, you get the definition of the word you typed from various sources. (Here’s an example).
In case you don’t have an access to the internet on your PC, there are loads of offline dictionary software you can install on your computer and update your vocabulary once in a while.
My English Teachers always advise us to listen to news and read a lot of news everyday. If you’re bored to read news traditionally, there’s the web to the rescue. Hundreds of sites report on developments across the world, but usually people prefer BBC and CNN.
You can always pour get the latest news mailed to you everday, or even use RSS to keep yourself updated on the happenings.
Side by side, you can also learn a lot of new terms and words that’ll enrich your knowledge.
Listen to news, radio and podcasts
Youtube is the latest craze, but Youtube isn’t just a repository of all the junk. It does have lots of good videos on education, and speech training. You can always go search and watch interesting ones.
The BBC also has one minute news updated every hour on its site. Besides special video coverage on specific news stories is also available for you to watch.
You can even listen to radio on the internet, streamed to your computer. You’ll find a lot of music centred radio stations, but surely there must be a few talking on useful stuff like education. iTunes is a good player supporting
Besides multimedia news and live radio, you also have something called Podcasts.
Education related podcasts are wide spread, there are always loads of free podcasts you can download and listen to on your computer or your portable device.
One of my favourites is the Grammar Girl podcast where the ‘Grammar Girl’ gives you English Grammar tips everday.
Just Vocabulary podcasts present synonyms, antonyms and example sentences in a short audio file for people who might be taking SAT, TOEFL and other such exams.
All these can help you improve your accent!
A Word a Day
Now, this is a very popular tradition. Wordsmith.org is one of the world’s most subscribed newsletters. Everday, the website features a word and you can get to know about its etymology, pronunciation and more.
There are millions of blogs on the web, and if you’re just not interested in news controlled by mainstream media, you can always use some social bookmarking sites like Del.icio.us, StumbleUpon etc to find blogs and sites based on your interest.
You can always use RSS to subscribe to a blog. Besides niche blogs, there are blogs like this one for example specifically focused on providing tips to improve your skills in writing. The BBC Learning English site also syndicates contents from blogs and provides you with a lot of useful tips.
Even the Oxford University Press has a very interesting blog here.
Blogs are varied, and each blogger has his own style of writing. You’ll get a lot of inspiration to write seeing their posts, this in turn will fuel your English skills and knowledge.
No, not the kind of action games people usually play.
I’m talking about something like Jumbles and Crosswords. If you can’t get enough of just one jumble puzzle everyday on your daily newspaper, fire up your browser and point to www.jumble.com. Hundreds of puzzles here that you can play online. Besides, you can also buy books filled with jumbles and more.
The more you play jumbles, the more you’ll improve.
Got enough nerve? Test your skills, your knowledge. The BBC Learning English website continuously updates its site with interesting quizzes.
There are a plethora of communities and online forums that you can use to improve your english online and one thing that really caught my attention was EnglishCafe. This is how they explain themselves:
Like the best Cafes around the world, EnglishCafe is an enclave for vibrant and respectful exchange of knowledge, ideas and entertainment. We value the diversity of people, the unique experiences they bring, and the cultures from which their voices rise.
English does not belong to any group of people. English is a language that is malleable enough for the entire world to use. For this reason, we can learn from each other and about each other through this language. We can indeed advance our careers with English knowledge and make ourselves more marketable in the global economy. It is with a spirit of openness and desire to understand that we built EnglishCafe. We invite you to come in, gain or share knowledge, and join in a world-wide conversation about words and culture.
This is one special page that I should mention here, filled with 40+ links to popular pages that’ll help you improve your grammar skills.