Want to have your cake and eat it too?
That’s how English speakers say, “have all the good stuff, all at once.”
Unfortunately, it doesn’t work with cake. Once you eat the cake, you don’t have it anymore. You’ve got to go out and buy more, or deal with the sugar cravings.
But we’re not here to talk about cake.
We’re here to talk about how you can learn English. And do it for free. And do it on your own schedule.
The nine incredible English courses in this article will get you started. They offer classroom-quality English learning, for free online.
There are options for all levels and learning goals, including some opportunities to earn an English certificate for your resume.
You can truly have your (metaphorical) cake and eat it too.
Ask Yourself: Is an Online English Class Right for You?
Online learning has lots of unique benefits for many types of English learners. Ask yourself these questions to find out if you should consider signing up for an online class:
- Do you have a busy schedule? If so, online language learning could be perfect for you. Online classes often use a self-paced lesson plan, meaning you complete the assignments on your own schedule. Plus, you don’t have to show up for class at a specific time every week. There are usually video lectures that you can watch whenever you want.
- Do you get bored easily by traditional learning materials? Online classes solve this problem. They typically offer a variety of unique learning tools, like video and audio lessons, flashcards, educational games, etc.
Again, you can access these whenever you’d like, whereas a traditional classroom wouldn’t be able to offer 24/7 access to learning tools and information.
- Do you know what your strengths and weaknesses are in English? The classes we’ll be covering specifically focus on particular learning goals that include listening, writing, reading, vocabulary, grammar or comprehension. So if you already know what aspects of English you need to focus on, you’ll find something that works.
Of course, many of these online English courses also focus on more general English learning goals. So if you just want to advance to the next level, you can learn English online free, too.
Once you get in the habit of studying online and feel yourself progressing in English, it’ll be easier and easier to make time for online lessons every day. You may even find that you get hooked on online English learning and want to graduate from beyond just free classes.
If that’s the case, the first tool to check out is FluentU. This innovative platform will take you beyond your initial online English learning into a world of authentic English speech, vocabulary and culture.
FluentU takes real-world videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.Each video comes with clickable captions. Just click any word for an in-context definition and pronunciation while you watch. FluentU also creates flashcards and exercises from the vocabulary in each video to test you on what you’ve just watched.
It’s an awesome way to learn English the way native speakers really use it, while also actively building your language skills. Plus, you don’t just have to learn from your laptop! Take FluentU anywhere with the mobile app for iOS or Android.
Ready to find out what other great English lessons are available to you online?
Learn English Online Free with These 9 Incredible Digital Classes
OpenLearning’s Practical English Course
This OpenLearning course is perfect for the beginner or intermediate English learner who wants to learn the most important and immediately usable aspects of English.
You’ll learn English grammar, but the course isn’t just designed to teach you rules. The purpose is to help you apply those grammar rules in real life English communication.
You’ll use multimedia games, quizzes and exercises to memorize grammar concepts easily.
This course is split into nine units and the notes are downloadable for your convenience. You can start this class at any time, go at your own pace and hang out with an online community of over a thousand past and present students. You’ll also receive a certificate of completion at the end of the course. How cool is that?
Diploma in Basic English for Business and Tourism on Alison
If you need to learn basic English language skills for travel and business, this course on the online learning platform Alison is one you need to try! Before you enroll, you should be able to understand basic grammar concepts in English.
You’ll learn specific English skills for the workplace, such as how to answer a business call vs. a personal call in English. There’s also an emphasis on vocabulary for working at a hotel front desk.
This course provides an online assessment of your progress and a certification of completion.
There are 12 modules, each divided up into practical English business situations. This course takes about six to 10 hours to complete.
USA Learns’ Beginning and Intermediate English Courses
While there may not be a lot of options on this site for advanced English learners who want to take free online English lessons, beginner and intermediate learners have hit the jackpot.
This site has some of the most useful and real-world practical English courses you can find online for free, including courses aimed at immigrants preparing for their naturalization interview. All of the lessons are activity-based, meaning you’ll listen to or read a story before doing an activity, such as defining various words and phrases within the story.
Perfectly Spoken’s Free Intermediate English Foundation Course
Are you an intermediate learner who prefers to learn English with videos and audio? This course may be the one!
The course has 40 video lessons, each covering a different topic. The focus is primarily on grammar and vocabulary. You’ll pick up 2,000 new vocabulary words by the end of this course. You’ll also get introduced to complex grammar concepts such as conditionals or difficult sentence structures.
Planning to take the IELTS test in the future? This course promises to raise your score to 5.
Intermediate learners who’ve just passed the “beginner” mark of learning English should try this course out. If you’re not sure what level you are, try the first few lessons to see if you’re really behind. It’s free, after all!
Intermediate English Resources on ESOL Courses
Are you sick of English courses that are split up into boring, unoriginal and predictable lessons? Luckily for you, ESOL Courses has a ton of lessons that are far from what you normally expect from a traditional English course.
Each lesson focuses on a very specific subject, from eating a healthy diet to Nelson Mandela. As you follow these lessons you’ll practice individual English skills, such as listening or reading.
You can find mini quizzes and activities to try out on the site for free as well.
Oxford Online English’s Free Video Lessons
Oxford Online English is a premium English-teaching service that does cost money to use. However, they also have free courses available for anyone to try on their website!
There’s quite a bit of content available here, mostly in the form of short-and-sweet video lessons. Each lesson focuses on a particular topic, from the pronunciation of contractions, to common IELTS mistakes, to pronouncing strange English vowel sounds.
Each video is also accompanied by a script, various exercises and quizzes.
BBC Learning English’s “Towards Advanced” Course
Are you on the cusp of being an advanced English learner? Congratulations! We know it wasn’t easy.
If you’re stuck in this spot and don’t know how to further your fluency in English, this course from BBC LearningEnglish is absolutely worth checking out.
You can pick-and-choose the topics that are most interesting to you and follow the lessons at your own pace. There’s tons of material here—click “Open Unit Selector” and choose from 30 course units to study. Each unit also comes with a convenient “Vocabulary Reference” and “Grammar Reference” so you can see the important topics.
The lessons are video-based, so you won’t get bored stiff learning complicated concepts.
Elementary English Course on MOOEC
Have you ever heard of MOOCs? Massive Open Online Courses are free-to-join open access courses in just about any subject you can imagine. They’re the best option if you want the flexibility of an online course plus the structure of a traditional class.
MOOEC.com specializes in MOOCs in English and their Elementary English Course is a fantastic place to start for English beginners.
Each lesson is timed to give you a healthy sense of urgency and to simulate a real-life classroom. This course will go over basic real-world interactions you may experience in an English-speaking place with practical vocabulary and simple grammar techniques.
Talkenglish.com’s English Speaking Basics Lessons
Talkenglish.com is a very popular ESL website, and for good reason! There are a ton of English resources available for free here, in addition to well-crafted courses and lessons. We’d suggest starting out with their English Speaking Basics course.
There are 90 lessons and 900 hours of audio files to listen to. Each lesson is focused on a very specific, basic English topic (such as how to use the phrase “I feel like”).
The lessons are divided into three sections that get harder as you go.
Ready to kick your ESL journey up a notch? These classes are seriously awesome and you can pretty much just pick an aspect of English that you’re struggling with and use the appropriate course to perfect it. Good luck out there and enjoy learning English online free!
Em Casalena is a published author, freelance writer and music columnist. They write about a lot of stuff, from music to films to language.
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.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn English with real-world videos.