One of the most frequent problems with advanced students is that, because they want to sound sophisticated, and they do make an effort to show a wide range of language, sometimes some of their sentences may sound artificial. With that problem in mind, this is a compilation of online tools aimed at helping students become more accurate/correct, as well as more natural-sounding when writing or speaking in English at advanced levels (C1-C2): 


  • Dictionaries: some of the dictionaries I tend to recommend are the Cambridge Dictionary ( and the Oxford dictionary and thesaurus (, then choose ‘UK dictionary’, ‘US dictionary’ or ‘synonyms’ in the dropdown menu). At this point in your acquisition process not only do you need a dictionary to understand what a word means, but also to make absolutely sure that you are using the word accurately, and that you are aware of all the nuances of meaning and connotations involved. 


If you are unsure whether a collocation (adjective + noun/ verb + noun…) does actually occur in real-life language use, you may use these websites: 

  • ( A database of online newspapers and magazines which may come in handy when trying to make sure that a given collocation sounds natural. Type your collocation into the search box, and if it can find those words, it will yield real examples taken from online newspapers and magazines (mainly) where this expression appears. Once there, you can also click for more context. If your collocation does exist, you will find a list of examples; if it does not, or is not very frequent, no (or very few) examples will appear. does something similar, but the free version is rather restricted. 
  • Flax: enter a word, and how words form into collocational patterns will be revealed by looking across different academic and social corpora.

In the posts below you may find further ideas and resources on how to check whether the language produced sounds natural, or to widen the range of vocabulary used to meet the requirements of C1-C2 levels:


  • Grammarly (  Google Chrome add-on which checks for spelling mistakes, and suggests possible grammar mistakes through Artificial Intelligence. (Bear in mind, though, that its suggestions tend to be accurate/useful, but cannot be trusted 100%).


  • Forvo: database of recordings by native speakers of many different languages. Beside ‘dictionary’ terms, it also includes the pronunciation of names, place names, trademarks…Really interesting, as it is not a ‘machine’ pronouncing these terms, but real speakers. Besides, it provides geographical variations of the same word. 

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  • YouGlish: search engine of keywords and expressions on YouTube videos. Those videos typically have captions available. The search engine will take you to the exact point in the video where the term or expression appears. Its main aim is to help students improve their pronunciation by providing them with real-life uses of the word by native speakers; however, it can also help you check for collocations, or frequency of use (if you cannot find any videos featuring your collocation, it means it is either not correct, or very rarely found). Videos can be filtered by accent (UK, USA, Australia), or not filtered at all (‘All’).