What do you do when you’re not sure how to pronounce an English word? You look it up in a dictionary. But what if you can’t find it in a dictionary because it’s a rare word like azure, a derived form like walked, a proper name like San Rafael, or a technical term like JSON? Until now, there were two options:
- Pronunciation dictionary. This works for 90% of words.
- Forvo. This has the advantage of giving you authentic pronunciations free from possible biases.
I was recently made aware of a third option – a website called YouGlish.com, designed by Dan Barhen. How does it work? There’s a huge mass of content available on YouTube. Some YouTube videos include transcripts. YouGlish lets you search those transcripts. Type a word, press Enter, and you get a video where someone is saying that word. The video will automatically start from the relevant sentence, so there’s no need to look for the right place. If you want more examples of your word being pronounced, simply click the big arrow button to go the next video result. You can also easily replay your sentence. It’s a very nice interface for browsing examples or real-life speech and congratulations are due to Dan for making it work so smoothly.
Forvo and YouGlish are great tools for the linguistically inclined who don’t trust their dictionaries. Dictionaries can be biased, outdated, or mistaken; no dictionary will beat direct access to real-world usage, which is the “source data” dictionaries are (or at least should be) based on.
Unlike dictionaries, these sites often enable you to hear the same word pronounced by dozens of speakers, which allows you to get rough answers to statistical questions like “What percentage of Americans pronounce a syllabic L in words like idly and peddling (making them sound like idally, pedaling)?”, “What percentage of Americans pronounce quarter as though it was spelled corter?”, etc.
Ruan Aug 14, 2015 at 11:30 am
That’s one of the most useful websites for English learners I’ve come across in a long time. It has subtitled videos which were recorded in informal contexts, like football player talks, so there were times where I was learning a new expression every two minutes or so. This is definitely a must for someone who has learnt English mainly from reading on the Internet and listening to videos recorded in formal situations where people tend to be more careful over what they say and choose words as if they were writing an essay.
Fred Aug 17, 2015 at 9:27 am
I’ve just tried it out and am already starry-eyed. This is so helpful! I’m always making sure I pronounce things correctly and naturally, meaning I always look thinks up in several dictionaries and on Forvo, compare the American pronunciation with the British one, or even compare (slightly) different pronunciations for the same word in American English alone. I guess you could say I’m a little obsessed. Anyhow, this YouTube-based website comes in really handy and I love it.
A huge thank you for sharing!
srinidhi Jul 12, 2016 at 1:48 am
Youglish is the brainchild of Dan Barhen,which he designed, keeping language learners in mind.I was introduced to youglish through Rachel’s English YouTube channel ,for which I am forever grateful.All these years I have been longing for an app that would not just give the pronunciation but also the context in which the word is used in real world situations.As Iam usually linguistically inclined ,youglish has come as a blessing to me and to top it all its all for free.The quality of the indexed vedio results after typing in a word is just incredible.Furthurmore,the vedios come with subtitles and transcripts,which have helped in several different ways.It’s so generous of Dan Barhen who is giving it away for free.
Fernando Dec 16, 2016 at 12:26 pm
This is a good web site. I come across another web site called http://www.watchmeenglish.com that has the same functionality with some more advantages. It is built on an English word category system that suggests users some wordsets to study.
Also, users can save or bookmark the words they study on the site to review them in the future.
It is really helpful for monitoring the user improvements on their English learning journey.
syed Aug 19, 2017 at 1:04 am
I made a website for English grammar and my inspiration was this site. to learn English grammar Englishcraze.com
Trung Oct 8, 2017 at 2:44 pm
There is a similar site named saylish.com. It has the same functionality with some more advantages. We can switch into Speaking mode where we can select the sentence and speak it, then we can compare our record with the original one. It is amazing to practise speaking your english word.
active voice tense Nov 9, 2017 at 11:36 pm
There is a similar site named saylish.com. It has the same functionality with some more advantages. We can switch into Speaking mode where we can select the sentence and speak it, then we can compare our record with the original one. It is amazing to practise speaking your English word. https://active-voice-tense.blogspot.com/
Alex Sep 23, 2019 at 7:45 pm
Forvo and Youglish are complementaries. The first one gives you the pronunciation of a word itself without context and allows you to really learn where the stress is and emphasize it whereas Youglish gives you the word in a sentence which helps you to perceive some linking words or reductions, that happen a lot in English.
Both are great tools to help you improve your pronunciation as well as this website Antimoon. I’m glad I discovered it now. Fantastic insights on the process of learning English.
Nat Ruden Apr 7, 2021 at 11:35 pm
I’m an accent coach and I absolutely LOVE to use Youglish as a resource for helping my students differentiate between set phrases and descriptive phrases. Set phrases normally have the first component stressed (FRENCH fries; the WHITE House), while descriptive phrases have the second component stressed (the French LANGUAGE; a white HOUSE).
For those learners who have issues hearing pitch changes, I highly recommend to slow the video down to 0.5x. That way pitch variation becomes exceptionally easy to notice and mimic.
Tom Apr 8, 2021 at 10:17 am
Thanks for the slow-down trick – good one.
Nat Ruden Apr 8, 2021 at 3:12 pm
I know, right? This is such an obvious thing, and I have no idea why it’s rarely taught. Feels like a conspiracy to me, haha
John Doe Sep 28, 2021 at 10:51 am
Thanks a lot man
Oran Corner Dec 4, 2022 at 7:24 am
I came across another similar website https://dictionary.video
It’s sort of like provo+youglish+webster with favorites etc., also a great site for English learners.