It’s a unique and fun way to learn new English words.
10 letters, starting with “c.”
These challenging little word puzzles are beloved by native English speakers.
But they’re also an incredible tool for English learners. If you’re always looking for the next fun and exciting way to learn English, this post is for you.
We’ll explore what makes crosswords so valuable for English learners, then show you our six favorite print and online resources for crosswords in English.
Why Are Crossword Puzzles Useful for English Learners?
Simply put, crossword puzzles are word games—so they have huge potential to improve your vocabulary skills!
Usually taking the form of a grid with squares, one letter is written into each square to form words across the page. You get clues (hints) to help you fill in the correct words. For example, if the hint is “male parent” and the word has six letters (six squares on the puzzle), the answer would be F-A-T-H-E-R.
Crossword puzzles have a long history. They’re often found in newspapers, educational magazines and even some children’s books.
Before we go on to some crossword puzzle recommendations for English learners, let’s take a look at why they’re so useful!
Many beginner-level crossword puzzles are centered around a theme. For example, the theme could be animals. All the words in the puzzle would be the names of different animals.
Thematic puzzles make it easier to learn and remember new words, since they’re all related to one another. It’s much easier to learn words in context, rather than individually. This is the same idea behind FluentU, which teaches you new words in authentic English videos.
Unlike traditional language learning sites, FluentU uses a natural approach that helps you ease into the English language and culture over time. You’ll learn English as it’s spoken in real life.
FluentU has a variety of engaging content from popular talk shows, nature documentaries and funny commercials, as you can see here:
FluentU makes it really easy to watch English videos. There are captions that are interactive. That means you can tap on any word to see an image, definition and useful examples.
For example, when you tap on the word "searching," you'll see this:
Learn all the vocabulary in any video with quizzes. Swipe left or right to see more examples for the word you’re learning.
The best part is that FluentU keeps track of the vocabulary that you’re learning and gives you extra practice with difficult words. It even reminds you when it’s time to review! Every learner has a truly personalized experience, even if they’re learning with the same video.
You can start using the FluentU website on your computer or tablet or, better yet, by downloading the app from the iTunes or Google Play stores.
In crossword puzzles, each word has to be spelled out correctly letter-by-letter. If you misspell one word, it’ll impact the rest of the puzzle.
By doing crosswords regularly, you’ll start to be more familiar with English spelling patterns. Soon you’ll find yourself making fewer spelling mistakes in English!
Of course, this is the whole reason why we’re introducing the puzzles to you! Crossword puzzles are a sure way to increase your vocabulary skills significantly.
Depending on the difficulty level, there are many words that can be learned from the crossword puzzles. Even as you move into the advanced phase of learning English, it’ll still be useful as you can attempt higher level puzzles—there are many that challenge even native speakers!
By doing a crossword puzzle weekly or even daily, you steadily improve your vocabulary skills. Take it as a daily brain stimulation and English vocabulary exercise!
To maximize this effect, read aloud all the new words you learn daily in your crossword puzzle. It’ll make them more memorable and you’ll get to practice pronouncing many new words.
6 Delightfully Challenging Crossword Puzzles for English Learners
Now, I’m sure your next question is: so how should I start?
There are two types of crossword puzzles you can obtain to start this interesting learning process: physical crossword books and digital crossword programs. Take a look at the descriptions below and choose one, or a few, that you’re most comfortable with!
There are still many people who prefer physical books and writing on paper. (Myself included!)
It’s also scientifically shown that writing things out by hand significantly improves your ability to retain the information you’re writing. This makes memorization more efficient and will be a great help to your vocabulary skills!
Here are some places where you can obtain physical books of crossword puzzles. You can place them on your desk, bring them to work or just carry them in your bag when you go out.
“Easy as Pie Crosswords”
To start off, you may want to attempt something relaxing so that you can understand how crossword puzzles work!
The vocabulary lists in this book are easy as pie.
Easy as pie is an English idiom that refers to something that can be done with no difficulty at all. There are more than 70 puzzles and there are several more books in this series if you’re hungry for more!
“Funster Crossword Puzzle Book for Adults”
This crossword puzzle book consists of simple and short words, making it comfortable and easy to complete. As you progress through the book, the difficulty level increases gradually.
Not to worry! Sufficient clues are provided to guide you through the book. Additionally, the answers are provided at the back of the book for you to check through when you’ve completed the puzzle (or if you’re stuck!)
One special feature of the “Funster” puzzle book is that it has a large print, making it pleasant to look at. You can write out each letter neatly into the squares as well.
Though, the downside is that this book may be slightly bigger than most and might not fit into a small bag. You can always place it on your study desk at home or try a puzzle before you go to bed.
“The New York Times Monday Through Friday”
After you’ve completed something easy, you may want to attempt something slightly more challenging. Here’s a book of New York Times crossword puzzles—one of the most famous crossword puzzle resources in the English-speaking world!
The vocabulary lists gradually increase in difficulty, allowing you to adjust to them as you progress. The “Friday” puzzles are the hardest in this book and can even stump native speakers, so don’t get discouraged by those ones. Even if you can’t solve them without looking at the answers, you’ll get an incredible vocabulary boost.
Plus, these puzzles are usually full of cultural facts that English speakers know.
Crossword Puzzle Apps
Now, if books aren’t your cup of tea, don’t worry! There are many apps for English crossword puzzles as well.
They’re extremely convenient since you can use them anytime, anywhere. Try a puzzle during those long bus rides to work, on your lunch break or right before you go to sleep.
Here’s an interesting tip: studying right before you sleep helps you to retain information the best!
For crossword apps, there are usually more colors, which makes them more interesting to look at and lifts up your mood. There are also typically difficulty levels you can choose from. Some of them are structured like games, which makes you more motivated to complete the puzzles!
Available on: iOS and Android
CodyCross has an appealing and colorful interface full of cute designs to brighten up your day!
When you first download it, there’ll also be a simple tutorial to guide you through the app. You can use tokens (fake coins) to reveal a letter if you’re unsure of any words, so you don’t have to worry too much if you’re stuck. However, if you use up too many tokens, you’ll have to buy more!
There are many themes to choose from including free and paid ones. New puzzles are also added weekly so you’ll always have something new to try.
Set the difficulty level according to your comfort and get started!
World’s Biggest Crossword
Available on: iOS and Android
Need an app that has thousands of words to learn? It’s the World’s Biggest Crossword!
For each word that you get right, you’ll earn coins! These coins can be used when you’re stuck and need hints for words that are more difficult.
This app may be slightly more challenging, so do take the time to learn the new words and think through the hints they give. A thesaurus like this online one is always helpful when learning new words that have similar meanings.
This enhances your vocabulary range and you’ll eventually know a lot more words to describe one thing.
Word Search Colorful
Available on: iOS and Android
This one is slightly different from the other crossword puzzle apps. You’ll be given a list of words and you simply have to find and highlight the words among a pile of letters.
All the puzzles have themes and you’ll definitely learn a multitude of words from this colorful and cheerful game.
To get the most out of this app, write down the words that you’re unsure of when attempting the word search. Afterwards, check the meanings of the words using a dictionary and write down example sentences as well!
We hope that you can benefit from the variety of learning tools available and find one that’s the most suitable to your learning journey.
Remember that as you attempt crosswords in English on a daily basis, your vocabulary skills will definitely be increasing! Do diligently practice using new words when speaking. Read them aloud often and you’ll find yourself being more expressive during conversations soon.
We hope you have fun trying all the English crossword puzzles!
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn English with real-world videos.