There are many websites where you can practice your listening skills. How many websites do you know that allow you to practice your speaking skills online?
With English Central, you can use to do both these things at once. On English Central, you:
- Watch a video – usually from a news or documentary program
- Read as you listen, and build your vocabulary as you watch
- Repeat the video you heard, record your voice, and get instant feedback on how you sound
To me, this is the part that makes English Central interesting. The site uses cutting edge computer technology to evaluate the accuracy of your pronunciation. It tells you how clearly you’re speaking, and if your pronunciation is not clear, the site lets you record yourself again, until you get it right.
How To Use It
To use English Central, you first choose a video you want to watch. Videos are grouped by three levels (Easy, Medium, Hard) and four topics:
- Business English Videos
- Travel English Videos
- Social English Videos
- Media English Videos
All videos are reasonably interesting, and with hundreds of clips to choose from, it’s easy to find a topic and a level that suits you.
Once you’ve found a video you want to watch, you go to a screen where you can play the video, preview vocabulary, and view the top scores of people who were able to speak the lines of the video successfully. The element of competition makes it challenging – try and get your name among the top scorers!
Click the video to launch the media player. You should watch the video first, to get an idea of the speaker’s rhythm. After watching the video, click the Speak tab to practice your pronunciation. To use this feature, you need to give the site permission to record your computer’s microphone. Once you’ve done thatair dancer tube, the rest is easy:
- Play the video
- When the video stops, record your voice
- You will get a score instantly, which you can keep, or try again to get a higher score
Note: while you can probably use your computer’s built-in microphone to record your voice, you’ll probably get a clearer sound, and a more accurate score, if you use a headset.
English Central has a number of additional features that make it a fun site. For example, you can:
- Click on any word to see its definition and hear its pronunciation
- Repeat lines as often as you like to make sure you understand them
- Take a course, covering topics such as travel, business, and test preparation
- Recommend a video for English Central to use
English Central is free to join, and your free membership gives you access to all videos and vocabulary activities, plus two videos where you can speak, and six courses. The Premium membership, however, costs only $10/month, $50 for 6 months, or $80 for one year, and gives you unlimited access to the entire site.
In my opinion, $80 is very little to spend for one year of language development. If you use this site often, you will easily get your money’s worth.
What Do You Think?
Do you think listening to videos is a good way to build your English skills? What do you think of a site that automatically grades your speaking? What do you think of this site? Would you recommend it to your friends? Let us know in the comments area below!