Monthly Archives: April 2014

The COBUILD dictionary is now available online for FREE!

When the first COBUILD dictionary was published in 1987, it revolutionized dictionaries for learners. It was the first of a new generation of dictionaries that were based on real examples of English rather than on compilers’ intuition – the type of English that people speak and write every day.

Now, more than 20 years later, we’ve decided to take another revolutionary step and make the COBUILD dictionary available online for free!

cobuilddictionaryonline is the COBUILD Dictionary’s new online home. By clicking on the ‘English for Learners’ tab, you’ll find definitions and examples specifically geared towards English language learners. The dictionary is perfect for demonstrating vocabulary to your class on the Smart Board, or to look up new words.

What does COBUILD mean? Watch the video below to find out.


How can the COBUILD Dictionary online help learners of English?

Frequent words

About 90% of spoken and written English is made up of approximately 3,500 words. These words are the most important ones for learners of English to remember. All the words on are therefore ranked by the ‘word frequency’ bar on the right-hand side of the page, which tells the user how frequent a word is.

Changing meanings tells us how the meanings of words change over time. The word cloud, for example, was mainly used in its meteorological sense before 2008. In recent years, cloud, in the sense of web-based storage for files, has become frequent along with new collocations (cloud computing) and new phrases (in the cloud). To help learners, the COBUILD dictionary online always shows the most common sense of each word first.

How can you use the COBUILD dictionary online in the classroom?

Practising pronunciation

Find definitions of several pairs of words that are visually similar but pronounced differently on – ‘through’ and ‘though’, perhaps – and ask your students to listen to the pronunciation of each word on the site. Then project various definitions on the board and invite students to pronounce the words correctly in front of the whole class. You could divide students into teams and allocate points to give the activity a competitive edge!

Understanding British and American English

To demonstrate differences between British and American English, you could show students a selection of words that have different spellings in American English, e.g. colour, centre, etc., and instruct them to use the website to discover the American spelling. This might be particularly useful to Business English students.

DON’T FORGET! Our COBUILD dictionaries and grammar books are also available in print form! Have a look at the COBUILD page on our website for more information.

Cobuild Phrasal Verbs Dictionary  COBUILD English Usage Cobuild Idioms Dictionary

IATEFL 2014 Harrogate

Thanks to all of you who came to the Collins stand during the IATEFL 2014 conference in Harrogate, it was such a pleasure to meet so many of you! Here is a summary of our conference highlights, with links to our speakers’ presentation slides.

We’d also like to send many congratulations out to our three winners!Dora from Greece has won a First English Words Activity Pack plus 15 copies of First English Words Activity Book 1, Kadir from Turkey has won a class set of Research in the Academic Skills Series, and Ivana from the Czech Republic has won 15 copies of the ELT Reader Amazing Scientists. We hope that you’ll enjoy using your prizes with your students!

stand teamThe queen on the moveteamwithqueen1

Queen Victoria at IATEFL 2014

Those of you who visited the Collins stand might remember our special guest, Queen Victoria, who is one of the Amazing People in our new series of ELT Readers. Here are some photographic highlights – with music by yet another person in the Amazing People series, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

Have a look at the Harrogate 2014 album on our facebook page if you’d like to see some more snapshots!

Collins ELT Presentations at IATEFL Harrogate


What do you say after “Hello”? Successful networking techniques – Barry Tomalin

Barry asked how we can teach our students to build successful business relationships in English. He introduced listening techniques, gave tips about how to signal interest, and shared the F.A.C.E model.

keybusinessskillsDownload Barry’s presentation slides

Watch the Harrogate Online video of Barry’s presentation

More information about Barry’s title Key Business Skills


First English Words: What can pre-schoolers do? – Niki Joseph and Hans Mol

Sharing lots of engaging activities, Niki and Hans showed how a picture dictionary like First English Words can be used as an active resource with pre-schoolers.

First English Words Activity Book 1Download Nikki and Hans’ presentation slides

Watch a demo lesson with First English Words

Find out more about all the First English Words components


Post-IELTS writing: helping students to understand and meet academic expectations – Els van Geyte

Good essay writing skills are key to academic success, but it’s difficult to make the step up from the IELTS essay to writing for academia. Els explored how students can progress by focussing on crucial academic principles, also discussed in her latest book, Writing. Writing is part of the Collins Academic Skills Series, which has recently been shortlisted at the ELTon awards.

writingDownload Els’ presentation slides

Find out more about Els’ latest book – Academic Skills Series: Writing

Read an interview with Els van Geyte



A fresh approach to advanced listening practice materials – Sheila Thorn

Sheila examined the authentic listening needs of advanced learners, including decoding fast, unscripted spoken English, coping with NES and NNES accents, dealing with overlapping speech and listening effectively despite background noise.

Real Lives, Real ListeningDownload Sheila’s presentation slides

Download audio for Sheila’s presentation

More information and downloads for Real Lives, Real Listening



The Vocabulary Organizer: a new way to record lexis – Pete Sharma

How do your students store new vocabulary? Alphabetically? Digitally? Using flashcards? In this presentation Pete introduced the new Vocabulary Organizer, which enables students to record lexis and distinguish between ‘productive’ and ‘receptive’ vocabulary. The workshop also included practical vocabulary teaching activities, of interest to EAP and general English students.

Vocabulary OrganizerDownload Pete’s presentation slides

Watch Pete introduce the Vocabulary Organizer

Find out more about the Vocabulary Organizer



Amazing People Teach English: new graded readers from Collins – Andy Cowle

Andy offered a practical look at how the exceptional lives and abilities of the most talented people the world has ever seen can make great classroom material, and showed lots of examples, videos, and audio from the Amazing People ELT Readers.


Download Andy’s presentation

Download Andy’s handout

Find out more about the Amazing People ELT Readers

Watch Amazing People videos

Go to Collins ELT Readers Teacher Zone to download classroom ideas, lesson plans, and much more