You’ve watched every episode of “Friends.”
You even have some favorite ESL lesson channels on YouTube.
Now you want something different to watch and you’re not sure where to start.
It’s time to visit some other awesome video websites.
Some of the videos you find on these sites will make you think. Others will teach you some new information.
Some are perfect for vocabulary while others are great for learning about culture.
No matter which website you visit, learning English with videos is about to become even more fun and interesting!
How to Improve Your English with Videos
We’ve talked about the benefits of learning English with movies, TV shows and video English lessons. The truth is, you can learn English with any kind of English media! Many of the websites on our list have videos that don’t specifically teach English. That means you’ll need to watch them like you would watch a movie or a show: By keeping your eyes and ears open, and watching for the purpose of learning (and not just to be entertained).
Before you start, it’s useful to have a goal. What are you hoping to learn from the videos you watch? Keep a notebook nearby for writing down new words, phrases and other useful information. After each video, describe the video in your own words, either out loud or on paper. If the video you watched is short, it might help to watch it twice—once for understanding (by watching it through without pausing) and once for learning (by taking notes or replaying certain parts).
What kind of learning you do depends on what you watch for. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Watch for the language. Listen to the way vocabulary, grammar and phrases are used.
- Watch for the people. Listen to the accents and slang. Watch for the difference between the way people speak, and what it tells you about their place in society. In other words, who uses professional English? Who uses slang? This can tell you a lot about people and their culture. Speaking of which…
- Watch for the culture. People speak differently depending on where they’re from. Watch for the differences that location has on people’s English. British and American English are an obvious example, but even within the two countries you can find many different accents, phrases and ways of speaking.
- Watch for the knowledge. Finally, don’t forget to enjoy the content of the videos. Learning new information in English is a fantastic way to learn through English immersion: If you can understand a new topic when it’s taught in English, you’re doing great! And you’ll be adding a new topic of conversation to your knowledge, that you can discuss in English with others.
Ready? Let’s watch!
15 Websites to Learn English with Videos
This website offers fun videos about reading, writing and vocabulary—just pick a topic and watch. The website is dedicated to making educational videos for adults. It teaches skills and knowledge that adults need to know to succeed in life and their careers.
The videos have a great selection of different voices and opinions. Each video has a list of skills you can learn about, and some have related downloads or worksheets to complete. Watch a video and strengthen your skills. Then do a follow-up activity to get the full effect of this site.
Coursera is an online course website with a huge selection of free and affordable internet classes. Most of the courses are taught using videos, making this one excellent resource for English learners.
You can take a course specific to English learning, or you can choose to take a course about anything that interests you, like history, science, math or writing. You’ll be learning about something you care about, all while strengthening your English.
Videos are combined with assignments (like homework), quizzes and sometimes even projects for a complete college-like experience.
You can find a huge selection of videos right here on FluentU. FluentU takes real-world videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons. This means you have access to the same fun and entertaining videos you find on YouTube, but there are helpful features added for English learners. Watch videos on any topic that interests you!
Each video has a list of vocabulary you can browse before you watch, and full subtitles throughout the video itself. If you hear a word you don’t know, there’s no need to search the dictionary for it: Just check the definition right in the video as it’s playing (or paused).
FluentU has many other resources to make English learning even easier and more fun, including flashcards and quizzes. You can even take the website on the go with you using the FluentU app.
The British Council is a fantastic resource if you’re learning British English. The videos on this website don’t just teach the language—they teach about British people and culture. Watch videos about British culture and locations and see real people speaking about their lives around England. Learn more about the language and country.
The British Council’s LearnEnglish website is a great place to learn in general. After you’ve browsed the videos, check out the rest of the website for games, grammar and vocabulary lessons, business- and work-related English, and other useful information.
CNN is a popular international news source. There are many places to get your news these days, but CNN remains a classic (that means it’s an old but good choice!). The homepage of the website displays featured videos of the day’s top news, so you’re getting information about current events while you learn English.
You can also watch CNN’s original videos on topics from sports to family life, and watch many videos of past news. Use the site to catch up on what’s going on in the world (with a heavy focus on America). Or use it to watch older news you already know about so you can better focus on the English used.
Want bite-sized parts of shows on the Discovery network? Catch them here in high-definition. The Discovery channel shows reality television that looks at everyday people doing interesting things. It also has documentaries and shows about our world and environment.
Discovery’s shows are all about ordinary people from unique settings or cultures, so you can get a view of the many things America has to offer with these short clips. The website also has a service that allows you to watch full episodes, and a number are available for free.
What makes something funny? The videos on Funny Or Die have many different kinds of humor. Some funny clips are parodies (funny versions of real events). Some use humor to comment on current events. Others are just plain silly!
The site has many exclusive videos and articles, and it collects some of the web’s funniest videos. To “get” some of the jokes, you’ll need to understand the cultural reference—and if you get that, you know your learning is going great!
Like Funny Or Die, CollegeHumor has many funny videos. Unlike Funny Or Die, this website focuses on the kind of humor that younger viewers (in their 20s) would find funny.
The CollegeHumor actors act out skits (short shows), turning everyday situations into absurd ones. Other videos make fun of things, often by being silly or crude (with “potty” or “bathroom” humor). These videos can show how younger people speak, and pick apart the American culture in a fun way.
The channel PBS is known for its fantastic educational programs and beautiful nature specials. And now you can watch many of their shows (and clips from them) on the PBS website. You can find shows about food, the arts, nature, history, dramas and much more. If you’re looking for a place to learn English in a fun way, this is the website to do it on.
What makes someone a genius? How is our stomach like a second brain? The videos on Big Think answer these questions and so many more. This website posts videos about science, biology and life that make you think.
The ideas in the videos are pretty big, but they’re explained in a way that many people can understand. This one is recommended for higher intermediate and advanced English learners, and it’s a great way to find interesting things to learn about—and talk about if you’re looking for conversation starters.
Like Big Think, TED has videos meant to get you thinking. TED is a series of talks by brilliant minds from many different industries, from tech and science, to literature and humanities, that focus on spreading new ideas.
TED videos all show a person (or people) speaking on a stage, and they run in length from 2 or 3 minutes to an hour. If you’re trying to improve your public speaking skills, or even just your conversational skills, you can learn a lot from watching the presenters on TED.
What makes a talk interesting to the audience? You can also learn many new ideas and find new ways of thinking about things. After you watch a video, do a little research about the presenter: You’ll learn about some new and important people this way.
This website pulls together useful videos from around the internet which show how to do nearly anything. Whether you’re interested in cooking, art, technology or anything else that requires a how-to guide, you can probably find an article and a video about it here. Follow along with the videos to learn a new skill, and test your understanding of English instructions.
So far we’ve shared mostly shorter videos. The videos on Snagfilms are a bit longer: They’re feature-length documentaries. If you want to know more about a culture, a period in history, an athlete or any other topic, you may find a movie about that subject here. A few shows are available as well, making this a website with a huge amount of different people you can watch.
If you want to join a video streaming service like Netflix or Hulu but don’t want to spend money every month for it, Crackle is a great website.
Like other streaming websites, Crackle has a nice selection of full movies, TV shows, many classics (old movies and shows) and even some original content. Crackle is available on many devices so you can watch on the go—and take as long as you want on a movie or show without worrying about a monthly subscription.
Adam Savage is part of the team behind the TV show “Mythbusters.” This website is a collection of videos featuring Adam testing things, building, making things and much more. His clear voice is easy to understand, and the shows are fun to watch if you enjoy watching things get made. There are full episodes, or clips if you want something shorter.
With all the options above, you’re sure to find something that interests you.
Use these sites to make English a regular and enjoyable part of your life!
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn English with real-world videos.