Best online resources for learning English

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Whether you are studying on your own, enrolled in a course, or if you already know English but wish to improve further, these online resources will help you build your listening, speaking, reading and writing skills.

There are a multitude of resources online, but these have been shortlisted for great content, ease of use, and most importantly for their entertainment value. Learning should be fun, right?

These are just a few (and mostly free) sites that you can start with:


Live and Learn – Click on “Learn” and get access to literacy exercises based on everyday activities, common Canadian idioms, and iEnglish videos and exercises that are fun to use. More activities open up for you, such as live workshops and forums, when you get registered.

Canadian International – It has links to other websites that contain self-study materials that use a combination of tools such as videos, film clips, and exercises. The learning levels are indicated so you can choose the links most appropriate for you. It even has a Business English section that’s great for learning conversation used in the workplace.

5 Minute English – This is a very organized website with short and simple explanations and fun exercises. It even has a Question and Answer section that may shed light on some of your burning questions.

Breaking News English – Here you can access more than 2,000 lessons that are based on current events and feature stories. You can choose your level, listen (available in different speeds), read along, and practice spelling and word matching to boost your vocabulary.

Learning English with CBC – Learn from video and audio clips. The lessons are based on CBC news stories.

TEFL – great for music lovers as the language lessons are based on pop songs. You can try out the free lessons and then subscribe later for a fee. However, these lessons do not come with the lyrics and song mp3 so you’ll have to search for them (or buy them) online yourself. You will need to sign up to use the free lessons.

Many – This site has quizzes, word games, word puzzles, proverbs, slang expressions, anagrams, a random-sentence generator and other computer assisted language learning activities. It is developing its mobile-friendly version so you can use the materials on-the-go.

Reep World – The site’s Learners Section has many open resources to practice your English skills. Learners from literacy to advanced levels can find links to various activities like quizzes, lessons, practice tests and others.

Grammar, writing

Purdue online writing hub –This site houses a considerable amount of resources for instructors and learners on grammar and usage, academic writing, and writing for the workplace.

The University of Manchester Academic Phrasebank – Need help with writing up your research, thesis or dissertation? The Academic Phrasebank is a great resource to help you properly word each part of the paper. It has great suggestions you can use without fear of committing plagiarism.

Common errors in English usage – You can read one a day from this site, or better yet, use the free e-calendar for your daily tips (you can read them from Twitter too).

ESL Advanced English Grammar Exercises – These quizzes help you gauge your proficiency in grammar and usage, and immediately check which ones you got wrong. The site has grammar exercises for ESL beginners as well.

ESL Partyland – The student site has lessons based on themes and 75 interactive quizzes to test what you’ve learned.

Listening, speaking

Learn English feel – This site made it to this list for its section that uses movie clips to test language comprehension. You simply view short clips, answer a quiz, and check your answers.

Talk – The goal of the site is to help you speak fluently through more than 900 lessons and 9000 audio files. Lessons are categorized by theme with a section on business English (office conversation, interview questions and other work related exercises).

ESL podcast – you can listen or download a series of podcasts that are based on real-life situations and current events. You can learn pronunciation and how to use certain words in your own conversations. You can use them on the site or subscribe to the podcasts using iTunes.

Games and puzzles

Lanternfish/Bogglesworld – Here you will find easily printable fun activities like games, flash cards, rhyming worksheets, and board games that you can use to teach your kids (and even yourself).

Armored Penguin – crossword puzzle and word search buffs will have a field day on this site. You can try and answer the puzzles on the site, make your own, or print them.

Puzzlemaker – Puzzles galore of different types are available on this site. You can customize your own or answer the pre-made puzzles to test your language skills.

Sources: 50 essential resources for ESL students from the Open Education Database, 30 free online resources for teaching and learning ESL from Matador Network, 43 Excellent ESL Resources for Students from Student Guide, and Online Resources for Students of ESL from the University of Toronto.

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Best online resources for learning English

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