online english courses

The 15 Best Sites for Taking Free English Courses Online

Wake up! Turn on your computer.

Now you’re ready to take a college-level English course.

You don’t need to change out of your pajamas. You don’t even need to get out of bed.

Don’t worry, it won’t cost you anything.

All you need is an internet connection, a little time and the desire to learn.

What? How is this possible?

Well, you might already know that lots of colleges have online courses.

They can be expensive, though, and often take a lot of time.

But a different kind of learning is becoming popular.

It’s called MOOC.
 


 

What’s a MOOC?

MOOC stands for Massive Open Online Course. What that means is that it’s a course given on the internet, usually at college level, that’s open for anyone to enroll (become a student). Many times, these courses are taught by real university professors, and they’re usually free.

These courses are a fantastic way to take a real class taught by a real teacher but without having to actually go to a university.

Millions of people are using MOOCs now. You can become a student in a MOOC, too. Here’s why you should.

Why Learn English Online for Free with a MOOC?

There are many benefits to taking an open online course!

  • It’s free!
  • It’s online, so you can learn from anywhere.
  • Many times, you can earn a certificate that shows you completed a course.
  • The course is often taught by real professors from actual universities. You can even take a course from a Harvard professor for free!
  • You can drop out anytime. Unlike with an actual university, it doesn’t matter if you suddenly don’t have enough time to finish your class. You can start and stop anytime and you won’t lose anything.
  • Did we mention it’s free?

MOOCs are a pretty new idea, but already there are a lot of places you can find them online. Some websites have paid courses as well, and some even give college credit.

Another online option for English learning is FluentU. FluentU is designed to get you comfortable with everyday English, by combining all the benefits of complete immersion and native-level conversations with easy-to-read subtitles.

online english courses

FluentU takes real-world videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons. This makes the program an excellent way to learn English as it’s actually used by real native English speakers. Plus, if you’re looking for free courses to improve your English, FluentU has a free trial so you can try it out before you decide to subscribe.

MOOCs are a great way to improve your English language skills. Below is a list of some of the best websites to find free online English courses. Start learning today!

The 15 Best Sites for Taking Free English Courses Online

Alison

online english courses

This is the one that started it all. Opened in 2007, Alison is considered by most to be the first MOOC.

And it’s still a great place to learn! The website has over 1,000 courses. Its focus is on improving work skills to help you get a new job or to get a promotion in your current job. Because of this, Alison has an entire section of English language courses with lots of great English courses for all different levels.

Courses you should be taking:

MOOEC

online english courses

This website is just for English learners. As you may have guessed, MOOEC stands for Massive Open Online English Course. This site has classes for learners at all levels, from beginner to advanced.

The courses offered here are shorter than in most MOOCs. Instead of taking weeks to complete, MOOEC gives its courses as single lessons. If you’re not sure if online study is right for you, MOOEC is a good place to start, since it will take less of your time.

MOOEC was created in Australia, and some of the lessons make that very clear (easy to see). There are some classes about places in Australia. Some of the spelling might be different from American English, so keep that in mind.

Courses you should be taking:

  • Common Mistakes: This course covers some of the most common English mistakes people make.
  • Coffee Culture: For anyone interested in Australian English and culture, this class teaches everyday listening and speaking skills.

FutureLearn

online english courses

Many online courses can be done on your own, but FutureLearn encourages students to be social and talk with the other people taking the same courses. With over a million enrolled in the classes here, there will be lots of people to talk to!

The courses offered come from 40 places all across the world, including some top British institutions like the British Council and British Museum. FutureLearn has no partners in the U.S., 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.

Courses you should be taking:

edX

online english courses

EdX is one of the biggest MOOC websites out there. It was created by Harvard and MIT, two very famous and expensive universities in America. You can find a lot of college-level courses here, created and taught by actual professors from top universities.

You can actually earn college credits 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!

Like most other MOOCs, classes here are similar to college courses and some take a few weeks to complete. A certain number of hours is needed each week to learn all the material. You can learn along with the class, or read through a course after it’s complete (though you won’t get to talk to others about it if you choose to do that!).

Courses you should be taking:

  • Conversational English Skills: If you’re looking for something easier, this course helps you learn the basics of how to speak with others in English.

Udemy

online english courses

Udemy wants to teach everything! 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 understood. You can go as fast or as slow as you want!

Courses you should be taking:

Open Learning

online english courses

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 here. Not all the courses on Open Learning are free, but there are some that are free and open to anyone.

Courses you should be taking:

My MOOC

online english courses

My MOOC is the perfect solution for learners of English who don’t have a lot of free time in their hands and want to improve their resume/CV fast. The courses here take from six to 21 hours, so they’re short and to the point.

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!

Courses you should be taking:

  • Unlock your English: Learn the basics of business English, from small talk to business meetings, in just 15 hours! A great MOOC if you like being in contact with other students.
  • English pronunciation in a global world: In this course, you’ll learn everything about English pronunciation and the differences between the different English accents. You’ll also improve your own pronunciation thanks to the proposed exercises.

American English

online english courses

American English is managed by the Bureau Of Educational And Cultural Affairs of the United States, and it was created for teachers and students of American English as a second language around the world.

They only offer a handful of MOOCs at the moment, but they’re very well done and include a lot of materials, modules and even quizzes.

If you’re an intermediate or advanced English learner and you want to learn a lot of vocabulary and facts about the United States, join American English now.

Courses you should be taking:

  • English for journalism: This course includes everything you need to know about journalism in English, from its history to its vocabulary in newspapers or the news on TV.
  • English for career development: Learn how to write amazing resumes, impressive cover letters and professional emails. The boost your career needs is in this course.
  • English for STEM fields: If you need to improve your English in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, this is the perfect course for you.

ESOL Courses

online english courses

ESOL means English for Speakers of Other Languages, so this site is perfect for you.

ESOL Courses offer a lot of free online English courses for learners of English 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 and English for work to reading and writing.

I love the sections Life in the UK and Life in the USA. They offer information about culture, travel, living, history and food in the UK and the USA, among other cool stuff. As a bonus, all this information is presented through hundreds of exercises where you can practice your English. Amazing!

Courses you should be taking:

  • Beginners course: If you’re just starting your adventure with the English language, this course will teach you all the basics in just 16 lessons.
  • Elementary course: When you finish the course for beginners, continue with this course for elementary students and keep on learning in a fun way.
  • Easy readers: Read these easy and short texts and improve your vocabulary. They include pictures and videos, and they tell you which words you need to remember.

Canvas Network

online english courses

The Canvas Network is a website for “lifelong learners,” or people who want to continue learning even when they’re finished with school. They have courses from a lot of universities, and many of the classes are very professional.

This website encourages students to learn along with the class and have conversations about the lessons. If you prefer to learn on your own, you can do that, too. All the material is available for you to see once a course is over.

Courses you should be taking:

Learn English Online

online english courses

Learn English Online is the perfect place to find everything about the English language, including grammar, vocabulary, forums, learning tips and even a wheel that will tell you what you can practice if you don’t have any idea!

The site offers 11 units divided into 54 lessons, and each lesson covers one grammar topic. The lessons include explanations, examples, tests and songs or videos related to the topic of the lesson.

If you don’t want to follow the order of the lessons, or you want to practice a specific skill, you can click on the “Improve” tab and choose the skill you want to practice. You also have a lot of great information related to learning English in the “Learning Skills” tab, but you need to be at least an intermediate learner to understand everything there.

Courses you should be taking:

  • Improve your spoken English: This isn’t really a course, but it includes a lot of information and tips on how to improve your speaking skills.
  • Improve your writing: Learn how to improve your English writing skills with all the tips included in this section. Read 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.

Coursera

online english courses

Recommended for advanced learners, Coursera is another MOOC that lets you learn at your own pace (as fast or slow as you want). 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.

Coursera has a huge number of partners, institutions and universities offering courses. More are constantly being added, so it’s worth checking back regularly to see if anything interesting has popped up.

Courses you should be taking:

Udacity

online english courses

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.

Feel like a real native speaker of English while you take courses on business, computer science or personal development completely in English and for free!

Udacity offers 286 courses in English. I’m sure there’s at least one you’ll be interested in.

Courses you should be taking:

  • Refresh Your Resume: Now you can have the best English resume in town thanks to this Grow with Google course.
  • Introduction to Artificial Intelligence: Artificial Intelligence is around us everywhere we go. From machine learning to robotics, after you finish this course you’ll be one step closer to calling yourself The King/Queen of AI.
  • College Algebra: Are you a math person? If you love numbers, equations and logarithms, this course will boost your Math English vocabulary to the ultimate level.

World Education University

online english courses

Recommended for those beyond an intermediate level of English, The WEU is dedicated to 100% free college-level education. It lets you learn at your own pace but makes sure that you’re keeping up. If you take a break for longer than 45 days, you can take a test covering the things you should have learned up to that point to refresh your memory.

Since the WEU has all their own courses, they’re currently trying to become accredited (officially recognized), which means that one day you may be able to actually get a degree from taking WEU courses online!

Courses you should be taking:

Note: The WEU’s courses are no longer available online. If you’re looking for a similar program, here are a few alternatives you can consider:

Saylor

online english courses

Our final advanced-level option, Saylor offers many courses for free. This website is a non-profit, meaning it doesn’t make any money from teaching online courses.

There are no start dates here—all courses can be taken at any time. Some courses even offer college credit if you can pass a final exam for a small fee!

Courses you should be taking:

 

So what are you waiting for?

Get comfortable, pick a course on this list that interests you and start learning!
 

If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn English with real-world videos.

Experience English immersion online!

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