I once taught myself an entire language from scratch, for free.
No, it wasn’t my native language. And nobody who lived near me spoke it. Still, I was determined to learn. I looked all around the internet for courses, eBooks, videos and other resources. Some of the resources helped me master the basics of grammar. Others allowed me to pick up simple vocabulary.
It took months of hard work and tremendous dedication on my part, but in the end, I succeeded.
I knew a whole new language. And I had done it all for free!
And if I can do it, so can you!
If you’re an English learner, you’ve likely heard of English-learning apps like Duolingo. And maybe you’ve even started following an online course. But the truth is, there are almost too many free English courses online to count! Read on to learn about some not-so well-known online courses in English that are completely free and totally worth trying.
Free Online English Courses: 7 Great Programs that Won’t Cost You a Cent
How to Make the Most out of Free Online English Courses If You’re a Self-Learner
When you sign up for an in-person class, you’ll have teachers to set deadlines and classmates to keep you on track. Participating in an online course is different: most of the time, you’re all alone. This means you’ll need to be self-motivated and disciplined. Some students start off with great enthusiasm, only to give up after a few classes. Keep these tips in mind as you start your online English learning–they’ll help you stick with it!
- Be Disciplined: Discipline is key whenever you’re learning a language, but it’s especially important when you’re enrolling in an online course. Make it a point to study English every day, even if it’s for just five minutes. If you’re prone to forgetting, set reminders on your phone to notify you to with continue your lessons. Or, hang up a calendar on your wall and write down what you’ve worked on every day.
- Commit to One Course at a Time: Often when we learn something new, we tend to dive in with loads of new books, courses and apps. This initial enthusiasm is great! But watch out: it’s possible to get overwhelmed and stop learning altogether. To avoid this, make a list of options and choose a single course that seems most exciting to you. Finish it, solve all the exercises and then move onto something new.
- Schedule Revision Days: When you’re learning something new, you’re also likely to forget it, unless you periodically take tests and revise. Make it a point to revise whatever you’ve covered so far, at least once a week. (If you’re using a planner, calendar or phone to track your language practice, it’s great to schedule your revision days in advance so you don’t forget.)
- Take Notes Constantly: Whether you prefer using a notepad or a note-taking app like Evernote, make it a point to take notes. Try to write or type out important things like grammar rules or their exceptions. You can also use your notes to track your progress.
Free Online English Courses
Finding an online English course that is 100% free and which caters to your specific needs might sound tricky. But that’s where I’m here to help! I’ve highlighted seven unique English courses, each with their own unique benefits.
This website, which is accurately named, offers two learning programs: Learn English and Write Better. While the latter has both free and paid versions, the former is completely free. All you need to do is sign up!
EnglishHelper is a great fit for a beginning learner, especially if you’re struggling to understand spoken English. They offer six different listening speeds and a a pronunciation guide, which will help you speak and understand their language. With a picture dictionary of 400,000 words, you’ll soon pick up a lot of vocabulary. There are translations available in over 20 languages, which means that you won’t face any difficulty in finding English alternatives to words in your native language.
Finally, they also have periodic tests to make sure you’re learning regularly. This sort of structure is great for English learners who have a difficult time committing to one program.
ESLgo.com provides a comprehensive set of learning resources for anyone trying to learn English as a second language. This website has an amazing collection of lessons, sorted by levels (beginner/intermediate/advanced) which you can peruse in order to build a strong foundation in English reading, writing and listening.
Most of the lessons are focused on grammar and vocabulary. Also, they have fun and interesting lessons involving snippets from popular culture. For instance, they have a grammar exercise based on Harry Potter and even a vocabulary class using a love song by the Beatles.
On those inevitable days when you’re feeling too lazy to do your language practice, just think: Can I motivate myself to spend a few minutes learning English with my favorite books and music? The answer will surely be yes.
Englishlink has a ton of courses to choose from. I’d suggest that you first head over to the “100% Free English Training” option. Just by creating a free account, you’ll get immediate access to over 240 hours of English lessons.
They have lessons aimed at different skill levels, too. They even have a “Business English” section for those keen to improve their workplace communication skills. Plus, each lesson is pretty varied. In a single class, you’ll learn to tell the time, use a particular verb form, describe simple things and even improve your English pronunciation.
You’ll have expert Canadian and American teachers to guide you. As such, the course will cover all the bases: grammar, reading, listening, vocabulary and pronunciation. So if you have enough time on your hands and are looking for an all-in-one option, Englishlink may be the way to go.
ABA English has both free and paid versions. Yes, I can hear you saying, “Hey, this was all supposed to be free!” But hear me out: their free version is packed with so many features, it’ll serve your needs just fine.
If you’re a visual learner, you’ll likely enjoy ABA English’s unconventional learning aproach. Each lesson begins with a short film targeted at a specific topic. After watching the video, you complete the lesson by doing some fun activities. ABA English even offers video classes for interactive grammar lessons. Plus, you’ll have access to a teacher the whole time, who will ensure that you’re on the right path.
That’s a pretty good deal for free, wouldn’t you say?
Learn English Online
This is a brilliant website for complete beginners or anyone who feels relatively new to the language. The website offers two “pre-lessons,” which explain the English alphabet and the number system. Then, the lessonns move onto simple grammar topics.
Learn English Online’s beginner course includes 54 free lessons grouped into 11 units. This makes it easy for independent learners to impose some structure on their English practice: set yourself a goal of when you’d like to finish each unit, and challenge yourself to stay on track. Each lesson comes with an explanatory video and some exercises to test your understanding.
Most of the material on this website is designed for amateur English learners. However, if you make it through the beginner course, you can check out “Unit 12,” which offers three intermediate lessons.
Lots of beginning language-learners struggle with grammar. If this sounds like you, check out English Online, which provides a solid course in English grammar.
The lessons are very simple. They are divided into several parts for clarity, and they’re often accompanied with pictures to make tricky concepts easier to grasp. Some of them also include video tutorials that explain more complex topics in a lucid and easy-to-understand fashion.
A typical section contains a basic grammar lesson, followed by “functions” that explain what sort of English to use in a particular context. Then you’ll be presented with a vocabulary section and a series of dialogues that you can listen to.
All of these features make for a colorful, interactive and genuinely helpful learning program. English Online has managed to find a way to make learning English grammar pretty fun!
British Council’s Free IELTS Course
Some learners are studying English with the aim of clearing a particular exam in order to study or work abroad. IELTS is one of the most popular tests to measure English language proficiency, but getting the right training for it can be expensive.
Luckily, the British Council provides a free online IELTS course that you can sign up for anytime. The course will not only familiarize you with the different aspects of the IELTS exam–it will also provide you with helpful tips on how to ace it.
This six-week course is taught on a weekly schedule, but if you sign up late or miss a class, you can also access all the course materials on demand. That means you can choose the structure of a scheduled class, or the flexibility of going at your own pace! Even better, this course offers the support of a video tutor and a team of IELTS professionals, who provide feedback on your written and spoken English.
Once you’re ready and you’ve booked your slot for the IELTS exam, you’ll also have access to the “Road to IELTS” program, which is filled with eBooks, videos, tutorials and tests, so that you can practice before the exam.
So, there you have it–six effective, dynamic, and totally free online English courses! Surely, one of these seven options will fit your learning goals and needs.
If you like online courses, you should also keep your eye out for Massive Open Online Courses (or MOOCs for short). MOOCs offer a huge variety of options for courses, certificates and training in a number of specialized fields, including English. Most of them are free, and they generally are taught by professionals from leading universities from all over the world!
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 FluentU on the website with your computer or tablet or, better yet, download the FluentU app from the iTunes or from the Google Play store.
Archita Mittra is a freelance writer, journalist, editor and educator. Feel free to check out her blog or contact her for freelancing/educational inquiries.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn English with real-world videos.