Language tools

The tools listed here are particularly useful for developing the range and accuracy of the language you use in your academic writing.  ​


There are a number of online dictionaries available. The Macmillan Dictionary has good audio pronunciation of words you search for, Oxford Learner's Dictionaries has a nice layout and extra examples of the word in use, and has a free app available for your mobile device.

This article by Diana Lea explains what it means to ‘know’ a word and how a dictionary can help you.

Academic word list     

The Academic Word List shows us which words occur most frequently in academic texts, and therefore which words you should focus your efforts on learning and using appropriately. One tool that can help you identify key academic language from your reading is the AWL Highlighter tool from the University of Nottingham, which highlights words on the Academic Word Lists from any text that you paste into the text box.

Word search

A corpus is a collection written and spoken text that you can use to see how academic vocabulary is used in context and what words typically come before and after it. The University of Hong Kong provide this excellent guide to Corpus-based Language Learning, which recommends certain online corpora and provides ideas on how a corpus analysis can support your studies.

Webcorp allows you to use the web as a corpus and see examples of language in context using a standard search engine interface that you will be familiar with.​​