Posted by Lisa Ruschman
Because my instruction area is the languages, I sought sites that focused on language acquisition, vocabulary, translation and proofreading. Some proved better than others.
1. Grammar Base: http://www.grammarbase.com is a free instant grammar check. This site is especially cool in that it checks not only spelling as spellchecker would do, but it checks contextually (the correct word choice is used). In addition, grammarbase.com scans for plagiarism. This is a good way for students to check themselves before submitting to Safe Assign.
2. Speak Like: http://www.speaklike.com claims to be an IM translator for any language. Their idea of instant is 48 hours for the cheap version ($.06/ word) and 4 hours for the professional version ($.10/word). In short, Google translate is free and immediate.
3. My Happy Planet: http://www.myhappyplanet.com is super cool in theory. The claim is that you can find a person fluent in the language you want to learn and practice online in a chat room type situation. After choosing the language option, you also get to select the age of the person you are communicating with. I initially chose French and someone over 40. No one was online. So I tried French 34-39. No one was online. I tried any age. No luck. I tried German. No luck. I tried Spanish (seemed like it would be a sure thing). No one. I did not try every language, but the languages that I have a background in had no participants.
4. Vocabulary.com: http://www.vocabulary.com is great. You take a multiple choice placement test and the app determines your level. There are games and a dictionary. If you get a word wrong, it explains the usage. It does not test on definition so much as on usage and also includes idioms. One of my questions asked the opposite of a dark horse (light horse was not the answer). This is good for fun vocabulary expansion, but can’t be used for specific vocabulary words.