bric-a-brac english

Cambridge Dictionaries Online

In LEARNING STRATEGIES & TOOLS on November 22, 2012 at 8:58 pm

One of the most useful tools for language learners is a good dictionary. There are a lot of excellent free online dictionaries nowadays and they can greatly support your study if you get acquainted with them and learn how to use their features. Here is one of the finest (click the link below to open in a new window/tab):

Cambridge Dictionaries Online

Six dictionaries on the same page! You can choose from the drop-down menu on the top left-hand corner the one that best suits your needs:

  • British English, American English, Business English  (for advanced learners)
  • Learner’s (intermediate)
  • Essential British English, Essential American English (elementary)

Type the word you want to look up in the field right next to the menu and press enter. You can hear the word pronounced with a British (UK) or an American (US) accent (click on the appropriate “loudspeaker” icon).

In the column on the right, you will often see a section titled More results for (the word you looked up). In the tabs below, you can find phrasal verbs and idioms that contain the word. Further down, there may be a SMART Thesaurus box with synonyms and related words. If you click on any of the words in that box, you’ll go to its own dictionary page. You can also click on the topic heading below the box to go to the thesaurus page with all the related results. This is very useful when you’re looking for words with similar meanings or words related to a particular topic (for example, when you have to write an essay about education).

At the bottom of the page, usually, there’s a section titled Browse the Thesaurus. You’ll see a list of topics: Business, Clothes, Education, Finance, Light and colour, Personal care. By clicking on any of them, you’ll be taken to the relevant thesaurus page with the familiar word box and a list of related topics on the right.

Finally, check out the menu below the search field, near the top of the page. Hover your mouse over the headings (Tools, Resources, Topic Areas, etc.) to see a menu. You can find practice activities, a blog “about words”, widgets for your browser and all sorts of other cool stuff.



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