Resources for Vocabulary Building

by | Mar 28, 2024

Resources for Vocabulary Building – 

These are some of my resource picks for students who want to focus on building vocabulary. I’ve used all of them in the classroom with great results. Whether you are beginner or advanced, young or old, there is something here for everyone!

Vocabulary Workbooks:

Top Pick: Vocabulary in Use (available on Amazon)

The Vocabulary in Use series provides full-color illustrations of vocabulary items in daily life situations. Each topic includes both examples and practice exercises to place words into a realistic context. Words are selected according to modern usage and student skill level, and explanations help learners identify important rules for choosing the right words.

Note that ‘Vocabulary in Use’ is the North American version; you can also look for ‘English Vocabulary in Use‘ if you prefer the British English version of the series. The American Version are a little older but might be more useful for those living in the U.S. or Canada.

I especially recommend the Intermediate and High Intermediate editions, though the Basic Vocabulary in Use edition is a good option as well.

Traditional Dictionary:

Top Pick: Longman Dictionary of American English (available on Amazon)

For intermediate to advanced English Language Learners, a good “English to English” dictionary is an important resource. Such dictionaries help learners develop the essential skill of thinking in English, rather than mentally translating English back to their first language, and it also provides powerful tools for broadening vocabulary.

The Longman Dictionary of American English features clear, simple definitions and color coding to help organize items. It’s a little bit expensive at present, though cheaper than the similar Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English.

Skill Building:

Top Pick: Wordly Wise 3000 (available on Amazon)

The Wordly Wise series takes a systematic approach to vocabulary building that is engaging for both young people and adults. While not all the examples and stories feature natural language, the series provides a helpful framework for both acquiring and practicing new words in a well-developed context.

Wordly Wise 3000 is a representative example of the series; feel free to browse for the edition that best meets your needs.

Picture Dictionary:

Top Pick: The Heinle Picture Dictionary, 2nd Edition (available on Amazon)

Don’t be fooled: Yes, this dictionary contains colorful illustrations, but it is not just for kids! The Heine Picture Dictionary is a great vocabulary resource for all beginner to intermediate English Language Learners, and will even have some useful new words for more advanced students.

I have most experience with the 1st Edition, but it can be difficult to find (though if you do find one, you can get it at a good price). The 2nd Edition from 2013 has a National Geographic theme, but the revised content is quite good.

Thanks for taking a look at these resources for vocabulary building.

Be sure to check out some of my other posts on learning English


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Mark Pedrin

Mark Pedrin


Mark is an English instructor and communication specialist. He loves helping people develop language skill and insight so that they can reach their personal and professional goals.