Free English Learning Apps That Make ESL Practice Convenient and Cheap
If I can teach myself a language for free, entirely with nothing but a smartphone, then so can you!
Whether you’re a beginner or an advanced learner, there are many free apps out there, designed to simplify different aspects of the language for you.
They also make it fun and convenient for you to learn!
In this post, you’ll find a list of the best free English learning apps out there!
- Grammar Apps
- Vocabulary Apps
- Speaking Apps
- Reading and Listening Apps
- Writing Apps
- How to Make Use of Free English Learning Apps
- Using the FluentU App to Learn English
- And One More Thing...
Building a really strong foundation in English grammar is important. It’ll help you to communicate better and with more confidence. Here are some great apps for grammar practice.
Hello English: Learn English
iOS | Android
Hello English is a beautiful app, especially great for people who are just starting to learn English.
This app has detailed English grammar tips. Plus, they provide a chat helpline where you can directly ask questions to teachers. It’s brilliant for non-native speakers from all around the world because you have the option to learn English from over 20 languages, with the help of accurate translations.
The app comes with state-of-the-art speech recognition software, an audio dictionary, interactive lessons and even some games. Not only will you end up learning English grammar pretty fast, but you’ll also build a strong base in speaking, reading and listening. Your vocabulary will improve as well.
English Grammar Book
iOS | Android
Sometimes, the best approach to learning grammar rules is to follow a textbook. If this sort of learning suits you, then the English Grammar Book app is the right app for you.
You can choose to browse by topic or by difficulty level. The explanations for each subject are very simple and easy to understand. And unlike a traditional grammar book, you get points and medals for completing levels and quizzes.
The more words and phrases you know, the better you’ll be able to express yourself in English. So, check out some of these vocabulary-focused apps.
iOS | Android
Do you love playing games? How amazing would it be if learning a language was similar to setting out on a journey to discover a hidden treasure?
Well, Memrise is designed to make you feel just like that. Created like a game, Memrise is a pretty good app for learning useful and everyday vocabulary that you can immediately use in conversations.
There are many different courses to choose from based on themes or specific vocabulary, such as IELTS vocabulary or even common English idioms and slang words. You can also create your own course by adding the vocabulary you want to learn.
Memrise has a paid subscription option, but the free version is good enough for all your vocabulary needs!
Word of the Day – Vocabulary Builder
iOS | Android
When I was in school, my English teachers advised me to learn at least one new word daily. So every day, I would make time to choose a random number and open the dictionary to that page and learn a word from there. That habit really served me well.
Well, now there are countless apps that’ll help you do just that. With these apps, you’ll learn a new word a day, along with its synonyms (words that mean the same thing) and opposites. Word of the Day is great because it also shows you how to use the vocabulary word in context.
By the end of the year, you’ll have learned over 365 new words, from just one app alone!
Now that the grammar and vocabulary bits are already taken care of, it’s time to focus on your speaking skills.
iOS | Android
Speaking with a native speaker or even someone who is also learning the language is a great way to improve your language skills and help you gain confidence in using the language.
If you’re having difficulty finding the right expert or study partner, there’s an app to save the day.
On HelloTalk, you can look for native speakers in English and communicate with them, via text, voice and video messages, for free.
HelloTalk is similar to a social media app. You can follow other language learners and post “Moments” which can be anything from questions you may have about a language to photos you have taken.
The free version of the app lets you learn one language at a time. The HelloTalk VIP subscription allows you to learn multiple languages and access extra features such as unlimited translations.
You never know: you might make a wonderful friend in the process of practicing English.
iOS | Android
Does the idea of chatting with a friend and learning a language sound like a dream to you?
In that case, you need to download Speaky. You simply choose a language and your current level. Then, find a partner with the right profile for you. You can find people who are online and begin talking to them right away!
And once you’ve gained confidence, you can offer to teach languages you’re fluent in. This means you can use Speaky like a language exchange!
Reading and Listening Apps
Developing strong reading and listening skills is very important. The easier it is for you to read and understand English, the more fluent you’ve become!
Voice of America Learning English
iOS | Android | Website
If your main focus is American English, then this app is a great option for you to practice your reading and listening skills while learning about American news and culture.
VOA Learning English provides a wealth of listening material in the form of stories and news reports. When reading the articles you will find an audio player, enabling you to listen to the article being read aloud. The speed of the audio is pretty slow, and on the app, the audio transcripts are automatically highlighted (like a karaoke screen). This will help you follow the audio.
After you finish reading or listening to the article you can find a list of key words used in the story below it.
Try spending 10 or 15 minutes on this app each day, and both your language skills and knowledge of American culture will quickly improve.
You can also access VOA Learning English on your browser.
Android | Online
Reading children’s storybooks is a marvelous way to improve language skills and have fun.
This app offers over 200 African storybooks, entirely free and available in 11 different languages. The books are written and illustrated by a team of volunteers. So, if you read these stories, you’ll support a great volunteer project as well as improve your reading skills.
Accessing the stories isn’t difficult, since they are available online or on an Android app. (They are working on creating an iOS app.) Moreover, the uniquely African stories will introduce more diversity into your learning curriculum.
Many people have a passion for writing because it’s a wonderful way to express yourself. Why not try writing in English?
iOS | Android
If you’ve been scared to express yourself because you’re scared of making mistakes, then you need this special keyboard in your smartphone. It’ll alert you when you make mistakes. Grammarly can help you correct punctuation and even find the right words for a particular context.
Whether you have to write an email to your boss or text a friend in English, Grammarly will help you type with confidence. And if you keep track of your mistakes and try to avoid repeating them, you’ll notice your writing skills will improve too.
iOS | Android
When I was very young, my parents encouraged me to keep a diary and write down my own thoughts. That habit helped me express my emotions and learn about myself. It also helped me become a better writer! To practice your English writing, try keeping an English diary and writing in it regularly. This will encourage you to “think” in English and find better ways to express your thoughts.
However, it can be difficult for you to get started. In that case, Prompted Journal’s app is the perfect solution. The app provides you with many ideas and topics to write about. Just pick one and write a paragraph or two each day.
How to Make Use of Free English Learning Apps
Keep these tips in mind, before you begin downloading and learning.
- Identify your strengths and weaknesses: Try to figure out where your weak points are and download apps that target those areas specifically. For instance, if you can read and understand English but have difficulty speaking it, choose an app that lets you converse with native speakers.
- Don’t download too many apps: You may be tempted to download every app on this list, but trust me: that never works out. Go through this post, make a list of apps that seem good and then choose only one or two to start with.
- Turn on notifications: Make sure you set reminders on your phone to study at least a bit every day. By making English a part of your routine, you’ll gain confidence when using it and learn faster.
- Take notes: Write down important details, grammar rules and interesting words in a notepad. Go back and read the notepad from time to time. The more you revise, the more you’ll remember.
Using the FluentU App to Learn English
FluentU is a language learning program that uses authentic content made by and for native speakers to help immerse you in the language.
FluentU takes authentic videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.
If you’re interested in improving your English, the first thing you need to do is identify your weak spots and focus on them. Choose an English app that addresses the area you need to work on. Then download the app and start learning right away.
The best part is that you can learn everywhere that you take your phone thanks to these free English learning apps. Be sincere, revise often and practice as much as you can. You’ll be fluent in no time!
And One More Thing...
If you like learning English through movies and online media, you should also check out FluentU. FluentU lets you learn English from popular talk shows, catchy music videos and funny commercials, as you can see here:
The FluentU app and website 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 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? FluentU remembers the vocabulary that you’re learning. It gives you extra practice with difficult words—and reminds you when it’s time to review what you’ve learned. You have a truly personalized experience.
Start using the FluentU website on your computer or tablet or, better yet, download the FluentU app from the iTunes or Google Play store. Click here to take advantage of our current sale! (Expires at the end of this month.)