Online Tools: Priming

I have put together some of my favourite online tools that I use when teaching collocations. This is an introduction to what can be used and how to use.

1) The first site is, an online collocation dictionary.

You can discover, for example, what adjectives have a tendency to describe advice:

2) Naturally, you might ask yourself which of these adjectives might be the best to use. By best, I mean occurring most frequently. There are two sites that can be checked: Ngram and

Let's say you want to check 'constructive advice', 'helpful advice' and 'excellent advice':

You can infer from this result that helpful might have a stronger connection. It should be pointed out that the database searched is taken from books and not spoken English.

You can also use Netspeak to find out the same results:

So, try this out when you are not sure which word combination might sound the least awkward.

Now, you might ask yourself which noun frequently collocates with constructive:

3) My other favourite resource is for pronunciation. This site allows students to hear a word or phrase used in a multitude of contexts. One word that gives my students some pronunciation trouble is hierarchical. Click to hear a sample.

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