26 Best Resources to Learn and Practice English Online Free (and Partially Free) in 2023
If you’re looking for online English learning resources, but aren’t sure where to start—or you’re not sure how to choose—this is the post for you.
Below you will find a list of the 26 best free online English resources, including MOOCs, self-study lessons, and skills practice websites, with additional information to help you decide which one could fit your learning style and schedule best.
- Best for Formal Classes: Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)
- 1. Best for All Levels: Alison
- 2. Best for British English: FutureLearn
- 3. Best for Courses from Big Universities: edX
- 4. Best for Variety of Courses: Udemy
- 5. Best for Advanced Learners: Coursera
- 6. Best for Tech and Science: Udacity
- 7. Best for College Credits: Saylor
- 8. Best for Short Courses: My MOOC
- Best for Flexibility: Self-study Lessons and Courses
- 9. Best for Live English Classes: Perfectly Spoken
- 10. Best for One-to-one Classes: Oxford Online English
- 11. Best for Grammar Guides: Leo Network
- 12. Best for Authentic Content: FluentU
- 13. Best for Specialized Topics: Open Learning
- 14. Best for Text-based Courses: ESOL Courses
- 15. Best for American English: USA Learns
- 16. Best for Variety of Formats: BBC Learning English
- 17. Best for Number of Lessons: engVid
- 18. Best for Focus on Details: Dave’s ESL Cafe
- Best for Additional Learning: Skills Practice Websites
- 19. Best for Beginners: EnglishHelper
- 20. Best for Visual Learners: LanguageGuide.org
- 21. Best for Hearing Different Accents: ELLLO.org
- 22. Best for Practical Listening: Randall’s ESL Cyber Listening Lab
- 23. Best for Educational Listening: TEDxESL
- 24. Best for K-12 Students: ReadTheory
- 25. Best for World News Articles: News in Easy English
- 26. Best for Casual Learning: Duolingo
Best for Formal Classes: Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)
MOOCs, as the name suggests, are online courses that are open to an unlimited number of students. They are formal classes taught by real teachers, and are often created by prestigious universities or other educational institutions. They allow anyone to take a high-quality English course for free, and may allow you to earn college credits or a certificate as a paid service.
There isn’t much individual student-teacher interaction in a MOOC. Teachers communicate with students through online message boards, pre-recorded video lectures and a limited number of live web broadcasts. Still, this is a good way to learn English from a real instructor, and you’ll have chances to join online study groups with classmates.
Keep in mind that not all MOOCs are immediately available when you sign up for them. They generally have a start date that you might need to wait for in order to enroll. It’s a good idea to subscribe to the course via email to receive an alert when it opens.
Most MOOCs allow you to study at your own pace, but work best if you follow the course’s schedule. If you’re someone who prefers that kind of structure, one of these could be for you.
1. Best for All Levels: Alison
Summary: Well-established site with free online courses and certificates
Opened in 2007, Alison is considered by most to be the first MOOC. They have a whole section dedicated to learning English.
They’re one of the best MOOCs for starting your English studies from the very beginning, as they have courses for each level, from beginner to advanced.
The website has over 4,000 total courses and 192 language courses. Its goal is to help learners improve their existing skills, switch careers, or pursue hobbies they’re passionate about, all for free.
After you complete a course, you are given either a diploma or certificate depending on the length of the course.
Some courses I suggest are English for Business and Entrepreneurship, for those who need to use English with clients, and Fundamentals of English Grammar, for a basic grammar review.
2. Best for British English: FutureLearn
Summary: Learn British English from expert teachers and by socializing with your classmates
The courses offered come from 40 places all across the world, including some top British institutions like the British Council and the British Museum.
FutureLearn has no partners in the United States, so if you’re looking for American English, you might want to try a different website!
FutureLearn works like many MOOCs—lessons are given every week for a certain number of weeks. You can learn along with the class, which is highly encouraged (so you can talk to other students). But if the class doesn’t fit into your schedule, you can take it at your own pace.
FutureLearn has different membership levels, including a free option, course upgrade options and a subscription option for unlimited access.
A course I recommend is Exploring English: Language and Culture. With this course, you can learn about British culture as you improve your English.
3. Best for Courses from Big Universities: edX
Summary: A variety of college-level courses taught by real professors
edX is one of the biggest MOOC websites out there. It was created by Harvard and MIT, two very famous, elite universities in the United States.
You can find a lot of college-level courses here, created and taught by professors from top universities.
You can even do courses that will count toward the completion of your degree on edX, through Arizona State University. It’s not free, but it’s cheaper than being in an actual college.
Some of the courses have certificates you can get for completing them. Most of these cost some money, so make sure you check the details before you sign up!
A course I’d recommend taking is Academic and Business Writing for those who want to improve their writing for university or work.
4. Best for Variety of Courses: Udemy
Summary: A wide variety of either free or affordable video courses
Udemy wants to teach everything and is one of the biggest MOOCs out there.
There are tens of thousands of courses, and even though not all of them are from well-known universities, they have some great ones to choose from.
Not all the courses on Udemy are free, but there’s a good number of free ones. Even the courses that aren’t free can be pretty affordable.
Udemy uses video lectures, written materials and quizzes to help you learn. You can watch a video or read a lesson, then test yourself to make sure you understand. You can also go as fast or as slow as you want!
A great course to take is English Grammar Pro | Beginner to Advanced (A1 to C1) Grammar, which covers a wide range of grammar topics, as well as pronunciation and conversation skills.
5. Best for Advanced Learners: Coursera
Summary: A wide variety of self-paced and university courses, particularly good for advanced learners
Recommended for advanced learners, Coursera is another MOOC that lets you learn at your own pace (as fast or as slow as you want).
Coursera has a huge number of partners, institutions and universities offering courses. You can complete courses as they take place, or just look over the material when they’re over.
Each course has instructional videos, followed by quizzes and exercises you can take to make sure you understood the materials.
There are a few peer-rated (graded by your fellow students) assignments, so it’s a good place to exchange information with other students who are learning just like you.
Some of my course suggestions are Essentials for English Speeches and Presentations, which is a course specifically aimed at Chinese learners of English and will teach you English public speaking skills.
Another one is English Composition I, taught by Duke University, which teaches college-level writing.
6. Best for Tech and Science: Udacity
Summary: Courses about science and tech topics, taught in English for advanced learners
If you’re an upper-intermediate or advanced learner of English and want to practice the language while learning something else in English, you’re going to love Udacity.
Udacity offers comprehensive career development programs in the fields of tech and science. You’ll feel like a real native speaker of English while you take courses on computer science, AI, coding and more, all of them completely in English!
If you want to take a full program and get a certificate, the courses can be quite pricey (but worth it, if you need one!). There are also many (300+) free classes to get you started!
A course I would suggest is Refresh Your Resume, which will help you have the best English resume in town.
Another one is Introduction to Artificial Intelligence. From machine learning to robotics, after you finish this course you’ll be one step closer to calling yourself The King/Queen of AI.
7. Best for College Credits: Saylor
Summary: Take courses on your own time for free or paid courses for college credit
Another advanced-level option, Saylor offers courses for free. This website is a non-profit, meaning it doesn’t make any money from teaching online courses.
Here you can take courses online that will count towards your American university degree. Many universities around the world have this, but in the U.S., you collect college credits during your studies, and you need a certain number of them to graduate with a degree.
There is a small $5 fee if you’d like to take exams to get the college credits, but otherwise the courses are free. Even if you don’t need the credits, it’s still a great option! There are no start dates here—all courses can be taken at any time.
For those planning to study in English at university, the course Pre-college English prepares you for college-level writing.
8. Best for Short Courses: My MOOC
Summary: Quick, focused English courses that include subtitles
My MOOC is more like a portal to other bigger MOOCs, and covers a wide range of subjects. The majority of English courses here focus on British English.
You will see courses offered by British universities, the BBC and even the British Council. Most of the courses offered are self-paced.
The main difference is that most of the courses here take from one to 30 hours, so they’re short and to the point. It’s the perfect solution for learners of English who don’t have a lot of free time but want to improve their resume or CV fast.
My MOOC focuses on speaking and writing, but everyone can find a course that adapts to their needs. The best part? Most of the courses include subtitles!
One course you should be taking is English pronunciation in a global world. In this course, you’ll learn everything about English pronunciation and the differences between global English accents.
Best for Flexibility: Self-study Lessons and Courses
If you’re looking for structured English lessons that you can take on a flexible schedule, you’re in luck, because there are lots of free and mostly-free resources like this.
Some of these websites offer full courses you can complete on your own. Others are collections of lessons you can pick and choose to suit your needs. If you’re a self-directed person who prefers to march to the beat of your own drum, one of these might be for you.
Different resources offer lessons in a variety of formats, including video and text-based, so you’re sure to find something that fits your learning style.
9. Best for Live English Classes: Perfectly Spoken
Summary: Video lessons for all learner levels, taught by experienced English teachers
Perfectly Spoken features over 500 video lessons, all taught by experienced English teachers. It’s a great place to start your online English learning journey!
Each course is separated by learner level, and you can find out which course is best for you with a free English test. The best thing is that you can attend live classes, get actual speaking practice and even join a writing club.
There are two learner plans: student and pro. You need to pay for both plans, but the costs begin at around $8.25 a month which is completely worth it for the quality of material you get.
As a bonus for learners, Perfectly Spoken also provides extra learning materials and practice tests. Once you complete a course, you can even get a fancy certificate of completion!
Check out their courses by level or specialty courses, such as English for Job Applications and Interviews, to prepare for your English-speaking job.
10. Best for One-to-one Classes: Oxford Online English
Summary: Detailed lessons covering a wide variety of skills, with new lessons uploaded frequently
Oxford Online English has many free lessons that teach different English skills.
They cover many different topics and are surprisingly quite detailed. There are even lessons that focus on Business English and IELTS preparation. Free lessons are uploaded weekly, so you can keep looking forward to new content!
Besides free lessons, Oxford Online English also offers personal paid lessons with teachers on programs like Skype, Google Hangouts or whatever else works for you. Your teacher can also give you feedback and tell you what you can improve on.
To further practice your speaking, the section Free Spoken English Lessons has several free video lessons about various topics such as describing people, shopping and telling a story in English.
11. Best for Grammar Guides: Leo Network
Summary: Mostly text-based material on a variety of themes
Leo Network is a relatively simple mostly text-based website, but it’s packed with learning material and focuses entirely on English!
Most of it is not actual course material, but divided into different themes, such as grammar, vocabulary, basics, pronunciation and even tests and quizzes.
There are several guides, such as the guides to spelling (the correct way to write a word), capitalization (when to write in uppercase letters) and punctuation (the use of symbols to separate words and sentences) to become a master of English writing.
If you want something with a clear beginning and end, there are about 60 lessons from beginner to intermediate available.
You can also become a member of the English forums and Discord server so you can practice speaking with other English learners like yourself!
12. Best for Authentic Content: FluentU
Summary: Video-based lessons and multimedia flashcards with material that adapts to your learning
It 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.
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.)
13. Best for Specialized Topics: Open Learning
Summary: Mix of professional courses and free courses open to anyone
You’ll find a very friendly environment at Open Learning.
Here, anyone can take or create a course. You might not find as many college professors, but you’ll find experts who want to share their skills.
Open Learning does work with a number of universities, so you can find a good mix of both professional and more casual courses. Not all the courses on Open Learning are free, but there are some that are free and open to anyone.
There are also not as many language courses, but if you’d like to take specialized courses taught in English, then this is a good option for you.
A course you should be taking is Using Sentence Connectors, where you can learn English writing and grammar at a pre-college level of English.
14. Best for Text-based Courses: ESOL Courses
Summary: Courses for any level that include lots of resources and cultural information
ESOL means English for Speakers of Other Languages, so this site is perfect for you. The main difference with this website is that the material is not presented in a video format.
ESOL Courses offer a lot of free online English courses for learners at any level (beginner, elementary, pre-intermediate, intermediate and advanced).
You can choose from a lot of resources to practice the skill you want, from listening to English for work to reading and writing. There are also sections called “Life in the UK” and “Life in the USA” for information about culture, travel and more.
As a bonus, all this information is presented through hundreds of exercises in which you can practice your English.
I recommend trying out their intermediate reading exercises and activities to improve your vocabulary. They include pictures and videos, and they tell you which words you need to remember.
15. Best for American English: USA Learns
Summary: Video lessons and activities for beginner and intermediate learners
USA Learns is a website that hosts free English lessons, all of which you can access after you register an account.
There are three main courses and their difficulties range from beginner to intermediate levels. Lessons are taught with videos and activities that improve different English skills, from vocabulary to speaking.
USA Learns also has content that teaches you what daily life is like in the United States! This adds a nice flavor to your English learning.
An excellent course to take is 1st English Course, which offers 20-units that teach you the basics of the language, using a variety of lesson topics and all kinds of fun activities.
Another one is Practice English and Reading, which is an intermediate-level course that focuses on improving written English skills with stories
16. Best for Variety of Formats: BBC Learning English
Summary: Video lessons and text materials for intermediate learners
This resource offers lessons that can be taken either on their own or as part of a full-length course.
The course levels go from “intermediate” to “towards advanced.” You’ll never get bored, as there are different formats for the lessons. Every level is composed of 30 units, which are in turn split into five sessions each.
First, choose a category from the upper menu and choose your level, which will bring you to the list of lessons. Then, I recommend clicking on the Vocabulary Reference of every unit and copying down the words and their explanations in your notebook. This tried-and-true method will help you build your vocabulary by creating your own dictionary.
If you like your free English lessons to have a funny twist, then the Grammar Gameshow, Experiment and Shakespeare Speaks categories are all great options for you.
17. Best for Number of Lessons: engVid
Summary: Video and written lessons by experienced teachers
engVid’s free English lessons are usually classroom-like videos where teachers explain concepts on a whiteboard, with a quiz to test your understanding and a chat box to ask the teachers questions.
With over 1,900 lessons covering vocabulary, grammar, pronunciation, business English, slang
The website is intuitive and quite easy to navigate. Choose your level (beginner, intermediate or advanced) and your topic(s) of interest, then click on “Find Lessons.”
In the Resources category, you can also find a long list of written lessons that cover various topics such as 50+ expressions using “at,” “on” and “in” or 50+ phrases and idioms to describe people in business.
18. Best for Focus on Details: Dave’s ESL Cafe
Summary: Text lessons and word lists for intermediate to advanced students
Learning English with Dave Sperling is a real pleasure. From the navigation menu, focus on the Resources category. You’ll find grammar, idioms, phrasal verbs and slang lessons, in addition to quizzes and student forums.
The lessons are all in a text format and are more suited for students with an intermediate level and above. Don’t let the lack of videos/images hold you back! Every lesson is thoroughly explained, with the subject neatly broken down into understandable pieces. The English Sounds & Spelling lesson is a great walk-through for the different, often confusing ways English uses its letters to represent its sounds.
Take a break from studying now and then with their fun Australian slang quiz or dinosaur quiz.
Best for Additional Learning: Skills Practice Websites
Whether you’re already taking an English language class, using one of the resources above, or just getting started, you may find you need a little something extra to help boost your English to the next level. Fortunately, there are lots of great resources that focus on a particular skill or learning style.
Many of these sites focus on a broad skill like listening or reading. Some offer exercises with a particular focus, like academic or everyday English. You’ll also find that some provide practice materials in more specific areas like grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation, too.
These resources won’t make you a fluent speaker on their own, but each one has a little something that sets it apart from the rest. You might find that a certain something extra is just what you need.
19. Best for Beginners: EnglishHelper
Summary: Adaptable listening program with six different listening speeds and translations for over 20 languages
EnglishHelper’s Learn English program is a great fit for a beginning learner, especially if you’re struggling to understand spoken English.
Learn English offers six different listening speeds and a pronunciation guide, which will help you speak and understand.
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 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.
EnglishHelper also offers EnglishBolo. This 100-day program blends 100 self-learning lessons with 10 trainer-led classes, so you get to practice English conversations with an expert trainer. It’s great if you need that little bit of support.
20. Best for Visual Learners: LanguageGuide.org
Summary: A website for vocabulary practice with hover-over images
If you’re a beginner or intermediate speaker whose learning style is primarily visual and auditory, Language Guide is ideal for you.
Every vocabulary lesson is organized in a set of images that you can hover over with your mouse pointer on a PC or with your finger on a mobile device. You’ll then see a text box containing the word and hear the word spoken. You can practice either U.S. or U.K. English. 80 topics are featured in the vocabulary section. They each also come with a listening and a speaking challenge.
The images are cartoonish and sometimes too silly, in my opinion. However, as someone who loves stories, I like that they have a small Fantasy vocabulary section for storybook creatures like dragons, wizards, and zombies!
They also have a small English grammar section that focuses on irregular verbs. The game is to conjugate irregular verbs to either the past tense or the past participle in three levels of difficulty—beginner, intermediate and advanced. If your answer is wrong, a correction and an example sentence will appear.
21. Best for Hearing Different Accents: ELLLO.org
Summary: A website for conversational English listening in different accents
ELLLO stands for English Listening Lesson Library Online. They have audio and video English lessons at every level, from low beginner to high intermediate and advanced.
The lessons contain conversations in every kind of English accent, including non-native accents. Each lesson is marked with the names of the speakers in the conversation and a flag indicating each speaker’s accent, such as an American flag for a speaker with an American accent.
The site is a little confusing to navigate, but click around the different sections to find videos at your level with accents you want to hear, and you’ll find something.
Each lesson also comes with a script, so you can practice reading along as you listen, too. Take the quiz that goes with the lesson to get the most out of each one.
The One Minute English series is a great way to give ELLLO a try. Each video is only a minute long, so fitting one into your schedule is easy, and they come with all the same resources as the longer videos.
22. Best for Practical Listening: Randall’s ESL Cyber Listening Lab
Summary: A site for practical “daily life” English listening
This website was created to help ESL learners practice their listening. It’s completely free, and you don’t need to sign up.
It’s full of listening exercises at beginner to advanced levels related to shopping, travel, school and other daily situations. There are conversations with children and teenagers as well as adults.
There’s also a section for academic listening at intermediate to very difficult levels that’s really helpful if you’re learning English to go to university in an English-speaking country.
If you want to stretch your listening endurance, check out the Live Broadcasts section, which offers videos each roughly an hour long.
23. Best for Educational Listening: TEDxESL
Summary: A collection of academic/educational talks in English with comprehension exercises to use with them
TED Talks just might be the most famous source of English listening practice. It’s a collection of educational monologues (presentations with one speaker). TED is so popular among English learners that there’s a TED site just for ESL students: TEDxESL.
The site pairs TED videos with tailored comprehension exercises, grammar and vocabulary quizzes and entire lesson plans you can download for free.
It offers videos starting at a pre-intermediate level, but most of the content is upper-intermediate to advanced, and the subject matter is intended for adults and older teens.
For some specialized listening practice, there’s a subsection for videos that help with learning discourse markers: phrases like “anyway” and “as a result” that modify the flow of a dialogue without changing its meaning.
24. Best for K-12 Students: ReadTheory
Summary: Reading exercises to supplement classroom learning
One size doesn’t fit all in the classroom. ReadTheory was designed by teachers, for teachers, to help serve their students better with customizable learning. This free resource can also help children (and adults!) learn at home.
If you don’t need the full program for teachers, you can still benefit from the site’s diagnostic tests, daily lessons and ways to track your learning progress. Once you sign up, you also get access to ReadTheory’s reading exercises and worksheets, which include materials for ESL, SPED and adult learners.
25. Best for World News Articles: News in Easy English
Summary: Current English-language news articles rewritten in simplified English for learners
If you want to keep up with current events while practicing your English reading, this site is for you. News in Easy English provides news articles on subjects in different categories: Science, History, Society, Media and more.
Each article is formatted in simple sentences with vocabulary words in bold text. A list of vocabulary words with definitions appears below every article, so you can easily look up unfamiliar words as you go.
The website is clean and easy to navigate. You can also search for articles by tag. There are some pretty interesting ones, such as Archaeology and Space, though there aren’t many articles per tag.
The site’s owner, Klaus Rosmanitz, also runs English Online. The ads are a bit intrusive, but you’ll find even more news articles there, plus grammar and vocabulary exercises.
26. Best for Casual Learning: Duolingo
Summary: Duolingo turns learning English into a game with quick lessons, streaks, scoreboards and skill trees
Duolingo is designed to help you learn English quickly, so you can use it even if you’re just beginning to learn.
In each lesson, Duolingo teaches you new words based on a topic like education, school, science or adjectives, and has you complete exercises to retain the new vocabulary. For example, you might have to match new words with a picture, translate an English phrase back to your native language or repeat an English phrase.
You can easily finish all the lessons in Duolingo in around three months if you use it consistently.
For more information about its features, pros, and cons, check out our full Duolingo review here.
So what are you waiting for? Get comfortable, pick a course on this list and start learning!