Great Online Resources for Learning English

Sometimes, people are not ready to start taking English lessons with a private teacher right away when starting to learn a language. Language lessons can put some pressure on the student and they might want to feel that they already have some understanding of their target language before committing to language lessons.

Luckily, these days the Internet provides a wide selection of online resources to help you get better at English on your own and we have compiled a list of the best sites and apps to help you out. Just remember that although these resources are free, to truly master English, you would probably need to start getting lessons with a qualified teacher who can explain the more complicated aspects of English. Before you get started, you can also read about how difficult English might be for a foreigner.

The Basics

The easiest way to get started learning a language is to sign up for one of the many free language learning apps. You can try Duolingo, Memrise or Busuu, or all of them at once. They all have their strong and weak points, and teach with slightly different methods, complementing each other quite nicely. Signing up to all or some of these apps will give a nice boost to your English skills (Duolingo can also be used to learn some rather exotic language if that’s what you’re looking for).

These language learning apps do, of course, come with a slightly limited usage, since they can only give you the basics of your target language – teaching some basic (or advanced) vocabulary, and sentence structure. The gamification of learning makes them fun to use, but their lack of flexibility to your specific interests make them a limited resource.

Writing, Grammar, and Spelling

After you have grasped the basics of English with one of the abovementioned apps or websites, you are ready to learn more about the specifics of English grammar and its peculiar rules of spelling. Use these sites for improving your general writing and grammar:

Dave’s ESL Café – A must-visit site for all English-enthusiasts. Dave offers clearly labelled and concise grammar lessons, in addition to many other resources that a language learner might need. You can spend hours on his site!

BBC Learning English – A good guide for English, the BBC offers information on grammar, pronunciation and highlights differences between “original” English and its US cousin.

Reading and Vocabulary

You can also find lessons for improving your vocabulary and general reading skills on the sites in the previous section, but also check out these cool pages that help you expand your understanding of English:

Breaking News English – This site will help you with your reading and understanding skills while at the same time educating you about what is going on in the world. A collection of interesting and alternative news pieces will make learning new useful vocabulary easy and fun.

About English as a Second Language – The About pages are an excellent source of good quality material for improving your English. They offer lessons on grammar and other aspects of the language as well, but we like using their site to learn everyday practical English.

Practice and Quizzes

Remember that the quickest way to mastering English (or any skill, for that matter) is to start actively using it as soon as possible. So, once you feel like you’ve practiced the theoretical parts to feel comfortable enough, it’s important to put your skills to the test. Use these resources to get some real-life practice for your English skills:

HelloTalk – Although technically not an online resource since it’s an app, we’re such a fan of HelloTalk we felt like it needed to be on the list. This app connects you with native speakers of your target language (in this case, English) from all over the planet and you can spend your day exchanging texts and audio files.

Activities for ESL Students – Although the site itself is getting a bit old now, the activities and quizzes they offer are timeless and a great way to help you test yourself with your English skills.

General Tips

The Internet offers a wide variety of great resources to help you get started learning English or help you get re-started if it’s been a while since you’ve practiced your language skills. The list we’ve provided here is of our personal favourite resources, but you should also definitely focus on reading native English newspaper articles, for example. There are also numerous English learning podcasts out there to give you some great listening practice. And you can (almost) always use meet ups or Couchsurfing meetings in your area to get some first person speaking practice.