websites to learn english

Don’t Miss These! 11 Websites You Should Be Using to Learn English

You’re probably reading this online.

Well, you can save these articles as a PDF, so maybe you’re reading offline.

But you’re probably reading on a computer, phone or tablet.

Printed books and articles are wonderful. It’s great to have something in your hands, and it’s easier to make notes.

But the Internet is the place where everything is done these days. That includes language learning.

If you’re learning English, you don’t have to use the Internet. But you really should.

This doesn’t mean you should use the Internet instead of other resources. If you’re taking a class, keep using your textbooks and your favorite dictionary!

If you’re learning English on your own, use any other resources that are helpful to you.

But if you’re really serious about learning English, you have to get online.

There are so many useful resources online. If you ignore them, you’re missing out.

No matter what motivates you to learn English, the Internet can help. Maybe you have an English-speaking romantic interest. Maybe you’re trying to get a better job. Or maybe you just want to travel to an English-speaking country.

Today, we’ll look at 11 wonderful Internet resources that you definitely should visit if you’re learning English.

Most of these sites are for learners, but there are a few that are made for native speakers, too.

Don’t worry, though! The ones for native speakers can still help you improve your English, no matter what your level is.
 


 

Don’t Miss These! 11 Websites You Should Be Using to Learn English

Learn a foreign language with videos

VOA Learning English and Voice of America

websites to learn english

VOA is an abbreviation for “Voice of America,” a news and media service. Originally, it focused on radio. But now, most of its content can be found on the Internet. It’s similar to the BBC (which we’ll talk about in a minute), but focuses on the United States.

The main Voice of America site has news made for native English speakers. The site is also available in many other languages. That can be good for advanced English speakers or people who are interested in current events. But if you are still learning English, I think you should check out VOA Learning English.

This site is especially good for English learners. It takes real news and makes it more understandable. It does that by adding subtitles, having special news that is spoken more slowly and making programs just for English learners.

The home page of VOA Learning English is a good place to start. It will give you a clear idea of what kinds of resources there are and what is new. Use the menu at the top to go to a certain level, media type or topic.

What it’s great for:

  • Current events: VOA Learning English produces a radio program called “Learning English Broadcast” and a video program called “Learning English TV.” Both are updated frequently with news shows that are clear and easy to understand. You can also easily download every program, so that you can listen to it again while offline.

TalkEnglish.com

websites-to-learn-english

TalkEnglish is really focused on helping you with your speaking skills. But when you visit the site, you’ll definitely improve other skills, too (like listening, vocabulary, phrasal verbs and idioms).

The site is very clean and easy to navigate. On the home page, you’ll have a few choices:

  • Speaking English Lessons
  • English Listening Lessons
  • Extra English Lessons
  • A few other “Extras”

Each of those categories has more categories divided by level and topics. You’ll quickly notice how large and comprehensive (complete) the site is.

If you don’t know where to begin, start with the full lesson index. That will let you see what is available on the site. You’ll be able to find something that is interesting and at the level you want. There is also an option to download the entire site. There is a charge for that option. But if you travel a lot or want offline access to the site, then it could be a good option for you.

What it’s great for:

  • Listening: If you click on almost anything on the site, you can hear someone speaking it in a clear and natural way. Really, you can spend days on the site and not hear the same thing twice. Also, everything is written out as a transcript, which makes it easy to follow.
  • Speaking:
    • You can use any of the texts on the site for speaking practice. Just repeat the words or phrases after the native speaker says them. Try to imitate them as closely as possible.
    • There are over 90 English speaking lessons with specific phrases, tips and words to help you improve your speaking skills.
  • Vocabulary and idiomsThis is one of the best parts of the site, in my opinion. It has…

BBC Learning English

websites to learn english

This site is from the BBC, the British Broadcasting Corporation. It’s very similar to VOA, but with a British focus. Like the VOA, the BBC has a news site that is more for native speakers. (But it is definitely great for learners, too.)

This site for English learners is clearer and easier to navigate than the VOA’s site, though it may have less content.

There are series of courses for different levels. There’s also a selection of programs about culture, language, current events and English. Another cool thing is that most articles and posts let you download PDF transcripts or audio files.

What it’s great for:

  • Listening: The site specializes in different audio and video recordings, so it’s easy to find ways to practice listening.
  • Current eventsThe “Words in the News” section has short videos about interesting topics. It’s not always news from the same day. You can go to the main BBC news site if you’re looking for really current news.
  • Pronunciation: There is a section of the site that focuses on pronunciation and the sounds of English. Just so you know, the whole site (including this part) uses British English. There may be some small differences if you’re learning American English, especially in vowel pronunciation.

FluentU

websites to learn english

FluentU is available as an app for iOS users as well as Android users. The website version is also very easy to use.

On FluentU, you can learn English with fun video content. FluentU takes real-world videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons. There are lots of features that come along with the videos that make them easy to learn. These include sections with quizzes and questions, subtitles and definitions for every word in every video.

I personally have used FluentU to practice and improve my Chinese. It is one of the best and most user-friendly options to learn a language well.

What it’s great for:

  • Listening: FluentU takes videos from different places on the Internet and makes them easier for you to understand. Because of that, the videos are always authentic. The people at FluentU make sure they’re all interesting and helpful for English learners. The videos are also divided by level, so you can find something good whether you’re a beginner or advanced.
  • Variety and fun: FluentU videos are about things real people care about and enjoy. There are videos on a wide variety of topics that are entertaining, interesting or funny. So you’re sure to find something that’s right for you!
  • Vocabulary: 
    • One cool thing about FluentU is its interactive subtitles. If you hear a word you don’t know, you don’t need to look up the word in a dictionary. Instead, you can just move over any word and instantly get a definition. Also, if you wait a second, you’ll be able to hear the word.
    • Another feature that makes FluentU great is its vocabulary flashcards and learn mode. Each video has lessons that help you learn vocabulary, including quizzes to help learn new words. It’s a great way to quickly practice and add to your English vocabulary.
  • Speaking and pronunciation: You can download transcripts for each video and use these for speaking practice. You can use the transcripts to read along or repeat after speakers in the videos. Because FluentU videos are real videos with native speakers in them, you can hear how people actually talk. This is good for practicing pronunciation and means that you will learn English as it’s really spoken.

Elllo

websites-to-learn-english

Elllo is one of the “standards” in English listening lessons. (It’s very well-known.) In addition to great listening lessons (currently over 1,300!), it also has videos and other tools to help you improve your English.

It has many topics that are divided by level. Each lesson also has a transcript with vocabulary and quizzes. Most materials are downloadable as MP3 files or documents. It’s very easy to use…in fact, your English teacher may even use material from this site on exams!

What it’s great for:

  • Listening: This is the site’s main focus. There is a huge variety of lessons and topics. Lessons have a mixture of native and non-native speakers, so you can hear a variety of accents.
  • Vocabulary: There are also vocabulary quizzes for most of the lessons. The quizzes are not very difficult, but they help you practice important words, phrases and idioms.

The Learning Network from The New York Times

websites-to-learn-english

This site is updated by The New York Times, so it has many connections to news articles. Because of that, some of the content may be best for advanced students. Still, it also provides tools to help language learners understand the articles better.

For example, a post on the blog usually refers to a full NYT article. It gives a brief summary, including discussion questions. That makes it perfect to use in classes or groups, but you can also use this page if you’re learning by yourself.

What it’s great for:

  • Vocabulary: In addition to the important vocabulary in each article, there is also a “Word of the Day” feature, which includes a quiz.
  • Current events and news: Because this is The New York Times, a lot of the content is related to the news. An exception is the “On This Day” section, which focuses on historical events.
  • Authentic native content: If you enjoy the exercises on the Learning Network, you may eventually want to consider getting a subscription to The New York Times for access to all of their content.

Englishpage.com

websites-to-learn-english

This site is basic, but it has an incredible amount of information. It is a great page to visit if you have grammar problems. There are also a few vocabulary lessons and some links to listening pages.

What it’s great for:

  • Grammar: 
    • If you look at the index for Englishpage.com’s grammar section, you’ll see how large it is.
    • On the verb tenses page alone, there are tutorials and explanations for everything you can imagine related to verbs. There are also 30 “Exercises,” which are quizzes and exams to check understanding. And that’s just verb tenses. When you finish that, there are about 100 other topics on the index page. If it’s not on this page, you probably don’t need to know it!

Englisch-hilfen.de

websites-to-learn-english

It may be strange to see a German website on this list (the name means “English help” in German). But it really is a great, useful site for anyone learning English!

It can actually be an advantage that this site is from a non-English-speaking country. It is made for non-native speakers, and it has very clear explanations and examples.

What it’s great for:

  • Grammar: There are over 190 grammar pages on the site right now. That includes explanations and exercises. The lessons are clear and easy to understand, and the exercises are easy to use.
  • Vocabulary:
    • There are also about 190 vocabulary pages on the site. They’re divided into subject areas and exercises. The exercises are fun, and include some topics that aren’t as common on other sites.
    • For example, I especially enjoy exercises like the ones in the “Customs and Traditions” section. It includes quizzes about U.S. state capitalsnicknames and general geography. It even has some Hangman games. And there are many, many more topics to choose from.

Open Culture

websites-to-learn-english

This site may seem a bit intimidating, but don’t be scared! It’s not specifically for English learners, but there are lots of valuable resources for everyone.

The site collects different materials and resources that are available for free online and puts them together in one place. Most of the resources here are educational or cultural, but there is also a section specifically for English lessons. The links there will take you to other pages. But you can return to Open Culture later to find more resources to help you practice English.

The best way to use the site is to explore it. Start with the lists of topics in the sidebar and try to find something that interests you. Most materials will be in English, so you may have to look to find something at your level. But there’s no risk, since everything is free!

What it’s great for:

Randall’s ESL Lab

websites-to-learn-english

This site may look confusing at first, but it has a lot of great content.

The main focus of this site is listening. There are many lessons for all different levels. If you don’t know where to start, go to the home page first. Then, look through the lists of topics by category. Or you can search for topics that interest you.

What it’s great for:

  • Listening: The site has many selections. Each one usually has a few discussion questions, an audio file and a quiz at the end. There are good topics and quizzes, but they’re not easily downloadable. That means you’ll probably need an Internet connection to listen to the audio files.
  • Vocabulary: There are some sections of the site for learning vocabulary, but they are small compared to the listening part. But the listening selections have transcripts and written quizzes to improve important vocabulary. In addition, Randall has a website for learning slang.

Smart Words

websites-to-learn-english

Smart Words is almost completely dedicated to vocabulary. It is a little smaller than some other sites, but it includes areas other sites don’t have. So come here when you want to focus on vocabulary.

The site is very clear and easy to use, and everything is divided by category. It’s not divided by level, though, so might not be for beginners. Since it is organized by category, it can be useful when studying for standardized English tests—like the TOEIC or TOEFL, where knowledge of synonyms is very useful.

For computer users: When you click on a topic in the sidebar, it will give you a bigger menu right below it with more specific topics.

What it’s great for:

I hope this list inspired you to try some new resources. Even if you attend an English class and have many English textbooks, you can still add to what you have with these sites.

 

There’s no perfect site for learning English. But if you use the ones that keep things fun and interesting for you, you’ll definitely notice your English improving!


Ryan Sitzman teaches English and sometimes German in Costa Rica. He is passionate about learning, coffee, traveling, languages, writing, photography, books and movies, but not necessarily in that order. You can learn more or connect with him through his website Sitzman ABC.

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