5 Apps to Build English Vocabulary and Learn to Use New Words in Speech

It is estimated that the English language comprises around one million words. It would be nearly impossible to know them all, but these apps and websites make it easy to build your vocabulary, whether you’re learning English or already speak it fluently.


The internet offers different ways to learn and speak English, from free lessons to cute apps that slowly improve your skills. This article will look at practical ways to expand your English vocabulary and learn how to use these words in everyday speech.


1. VocabTube (Web): Build Vocabulary While Watching YouTube Videos

VocabTube lets you click on a word in the subtitles or subtitles of YouTube videos to instantly search for its meaning

Language learners are often advised to watch movies and TV shows to catch the words of everyday speech. Since YouTube has a great collection of free videos in English, it’s a great resource for expanding your vocabulary while watching something fun and educational.

VocabTube recommends several videos from fascinating and educational YouTube channels such as TED and Kurzgesagt by default, but you can copy and paste any video with closed captions to use in the app. Once it starts playing, you can click on any word in the caption to search for its meaning. The video pauses by default while a small bubble displays the dictionary definition.

In the future, VocabTube plans to introduce the ability to save words as flashcards and create decks to revise your vocabulary. But for now, it’s still a simple and unobtrusive way to watch YouTube videos and search for meanings.

2. YouGlish (Web): pronunciation and common usage of words via YouTube

YouGlish shows you how a word is used and pronounced in three random YouTube videos so you can learn its real-world usage

If you search for a word in the best dictionary and vocabulary apps to learn how to pronounce it, you will find its meaning and an audio clip. But if you plan to use it in everyday speech, you need to know how real people use it. YouGlish can help.

When you search for a word on YouGlish, it finds the word used in YouTube videos and selects three videos at random. The idea is that YouTube videos will demonstrate common language rather than someone trying to teach you how to use the word. Plus, with three different uses by different people, you’ll get a better idea of ​​the different contexts for using this word and how to pronounce it.

You can also quickly look up the meaning of the word, or any other word, by clicking on the subtitle. YouGlish will also give you tips to make it easier to pronounce that word and show nearby words. You can also choose between American, British and Australian English.

3. Burning Vocabulary (Chrome, Edge): Search for words anywhere, add them to your flashcards

Burning Vocabulary lets you look up any word in your browser and add it to your personal dictionary, so you can come back to it and learn it later with spaced repetition

Burning Vocabulary looks like a simple browser extension, but it has many cool features that make it better than it looks. At its basic level, it lets you look up the definition and pronunciation of any word in your browser. It even works with words on social media, Netflix video subtitles, and anywhere you can click and highlight a word.

The definition appears on a card next to the word, along with an automatic pronunciation read aloud. The word is also added to your personal dictionary, which you can view in the dashboard. If you ever find the word in other articles, you will find that it is already underlined to indicate that it is one of your saved words.

In the dashboard, you’ll see a day-to-day list of the words you’ve added. Burning Vocabulary also saves a snapshot of the original sentence in which you read the word. You can also test your memory using flashcards, which can be queried in order or randomly.

To download: Burning Vocabulary for Chrome | Edge (free)

4. WordUp (Android, iOS, Windows): learn the most practical words in English

WordUp has analyzed over 600,000 movies and TV shows to compile a list of the most commonly used words in English, and is on a mission to help you know and remember them. When you set up the app, you will first be prompted to take a test to determine your current knowledge level, so the app can then recommend words for you.

Each word comes in a card, which you have to swipe up or down Tinder-style to indicate whether you know it or not. Words you don’t know will be added to your personal dictionary so you can review them.

Every word in your dictionary includes all of its meanings, clear pronunciations, and where it’s been used. WordUp mixes clips from movies and TV shows, news shows, YouTube videos and online articles, to show you different ways the word is used in everyday language.

WordUp then uses the time-tested spaced repetition method to improve memory by asking you about those words at periodic intervals. If you do it right, the period gets longer over days, weeks and months. If you are able to remember a word more than a year apart, you have it memorized.

To download: WordUp for Android | iOS | Windows (free)

5. Word of the Hour (Web, Mobile, Desktop, Browsers): Learn 24 new words every day

Word of the Hour helps you expand your vocabulary by pushing a new English word every hour to your browser, desktop, phone, or Slack

As the name suggests, Word of the Hour helps you learn a new word every hour of the day. You’ll find several definitions of the word, as well as translations in several different languages ​​(hopefully one of which you’re already familiar with).

What we particularly liked is how it ensures you don’t miss a new word. Word of the Hour has extensions for all popular browsers, where you can quickly check the new word. There is a phone app and desktop software that will send a notification with the last word. You can even install it on Roku TVs or add it to Slack for regular updates in the chat app.

Building your vocabulary is often just about being asked to read more, and Word of the Hour does that beautifully. You can also check all past words on the Word of the Hour subreddit, as well as participate in the community.

To download: Mobile Hot Word for Android | iOS (Free)

To download: Word of the Hour extension for Chrome | firefox | Opera (Free)

To download: Word of the Hour for Windows | macOS | Linux (Free)

Practice your vocabulary while speaking

So you have all these different ways to build your English vocabulary, but remembering these words takes practice. But that doesn’t mean writing them down in your next assignment, but rather saying the word out loud. Language teachers recommend using the words of your usual speech as much as possible. You can try conversational English tutors online or talk to someone in your regular life, just make sure you consciously try to use the new words in your vocabulary and it will help you stick.

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