English on the Internet

The world-wide-web is a vast and confusing repository of materials for practising and improving your English. Every so often we will share some of the sites that we think will help you.

This week we saw three interesting sites.

Visual Thesaurus – vocabulary

The first is ‘Visual Thesaurus’, a site that helps you develop your English vocabulary. A thesaurus is a reference book that groups together words of similar meaning. All journalists and writers have one on their desks for those times when a word is ‘on the tip of their tongue’.

‘Visual Thesaurus’ does a similar job, but with some of the advantages of a computer – better visuals and access to much more information. This site is  for native speakers but we think it is suitable for high level students (CAE, IELTS 7.5), translators and anybody who has to write in English, including students in English-speaking universities, academics who have to write in English.

The site is a subscription site, but it is only $3 per month or $20 a year. You can try it for free. Here’s link to the ‘How it works’ page:


BBC Learning English – news reading and vocabulary

Next is a series on ‘BBC Learning English’. It’s a reading and vocabulary series called ‘Words in the News’. You get a short news story, a recording and a vocabulary list with the pronuciation of the new words.

The story we looked at was the recent news that Google is developing a hands-free car. The readings are interesting and short, for intermediate students and above. Here’s the link:


FameLab – academic reading

Last but not least is a series on the British Council blog. It looks perfect for students who want to improve their academic English for IELTS and who need shorter and simpler texts for practise.

The series is called FameLab. It consists of articles written by young scientists from all over the world for FameLab – a yearly competition run by The Cheltenham Science Festival (The British Council helps organise the competition worldwide). We particularly liked an article about smell, memory and emotions – it has some advice if you are taking exams. Here’s the link:


Let us know what you think! And do also tell us about your own favourite sites for practising English.

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