EnglishClass101 Review: Lots of Content, But Only Works If You Already Know Some English
EnglishClass101 claims it is “the fastest, easiest and most fun way to learn English.”
It also says that you can “start speaking English in minutes with audio and video lessons.”
But is it all true? I made it my mission to see if it is.
There actually is a lot of real English audio and video that EnglishClass101 provides to get you speaking right away, but EnglishClass101 may not be as easy as they say.
It turns out that you already need to know some English to use it. There are also a few missing elements that you might be looking for in a language learning program.
I’ll walk you through everything so you know what to expect if you sign up.
- What Is EnglishClass101?
- How EnglishClass101 Works
- Features of EnglishClass101
- EnglishClass101 Review: Does It Work?
- Alternatives: How Does EnglishClass101 Compare to Other Programs?
- The Verdict: Should You Use EnglishClass101?
What Is EnglishClass101?
EnglishClass101 is made by a company called Innovative Language, which has become one of the biggest language learning companies since its founding in 2006. In fact, Innovative Language offers over 690 language learning applications for smartphones today.
While the focus of this review is Innovative Language’s EnglishClass101, the company also creates programs for learning other languages and has options for over 40 languages.
You can read our general review of Innovative Language here.
When it comes specifically to EnglishClass101, the program claims to be a well-rounded language course, offering practice in reading, listening and writing.
In fact, before signing up, EnglishClass101 gives you a look at everything they have to offer:
EnglishClass101’s main strategy is to teach through audio podcasts, videos and written language tutorials. It uses all three of these methods to help learners master the English language.
Many of EnglishClass101 videos are free to watch on YouTube and you don’t even need a subscription to use them as study material.
How EnglishClass101 Works
I signed up for the free trial and all throughout my experience, I found EnglishClass101 very easy to use.
When you first start the program, you take a diagnostic assessment to see where your English level is at. The assessment had 36 questions, so I found that it wasn’t too tedious but just enough to give the program an idea of where you are at with your skill. The questions are mostly fill-in-the-blank questions, so it was pretty straightforward.
The results of this test will place you in the best pathway that will help you progress on your learning journey.
The “pathways” that EnglishClass101 provide are essentially the various levels of English proficiency that you can achieve. EnglishClass101 has five of these levels: Absolute Beginner, Beginner, Intermediate, Upper Intermediate and Advanced.
For the purpose of this review, I completed my assessment in a way that would place me into the “Absolute Beginner” pathway. This way I could see what the app looks like and progresses even from the lower levels.
Each “pathway” has various courses. Some courses are general courses for learning common vocabulary and useful grammar in English. Others are more specific and focus on specific topics such as business, wellbeing, travel, or school.
After choosing a course, each lesson starts with an audio or video about a certain topic. The audio clip or video is pretty short, normally around three to five minutes.
After the audio clip or video, a word-by-word written script of what was said in this video or audio clip is provided. This makes it easy to follow along and pick out important words and ideas.
Following the clip/video and transcript, there are notes on the lesson that include helpful tips and tricks for learning new words and using them properly. There are also grammar and culture notes in this section that help you communicate with and understand native speakers.
Finally, there is a commenting feature that allows learners to write comments to each other or to employees of the EnglishClass101 course. I liked that this provides some interaction with other learners and allows you to seek help or leave your thoughts with those that work on the program.
There are also assessment lessons that have multiple choice questions. The questions focus on grammar and vocabulary that have been learned in earlier lessons. I was happy to see that the lessons build on previous ones.
Features of EnglishClass101
Thousands of Lessons
One of EnglishClass101’s best features is that it offers so many courses and lessons for learners.
Each pathway provided by EnglishClass101 includes dozens of courses, and each course has between 25 and 100 lessons. Further, courses focus on a specific skill and goal.
All of this means that you’ll never run out of things to learn or get bored when learning with EnglishClass101. This makes it a useful program for learning English on a long-term basis (for a long time). I’m not sure you’d get through every single lesson offered by EnglishClass101 even if you spent an entire lifetime on it!
Tools for Growing Vocabulary
EnglishClass101 doesn’t just offer lessons and courses for learning multiple levels of English, they also offer many tools to help you learn and master new vocabulary.
I noticed that there are two types of vocabulary building tools. There are the basic vocabulary tools that are for everyone. These include a tool that emails you one English word per day, a couple vocabulary lists for learning new words, key phrases lists, a list of the 100 most common English words as well as an English dictionary. I liked that some of these tools are unique and not really offered by other language learning programs.
Premium users are able to access even more cool tools like flashcards, a word bank and a list of the 2000 most common words. The flashcards use what is called a “Spaced Repetition System.” This helps your brain review new words and phrases at the right time so you don’t forget them.
Real English Speech
I was happy to discover that all of EnglishClass101’s audio and video clips feature native English speakers. As a native English speaker myself, I was happy that this wasn’t textbook English—a formal version of English I would never use. EnglishClass101 teaches English as it is actually spoken in everyday conversations.
Best of all, you can also follow courses for both British & American English. This allows you to choose the accent and dialect of English you want to learn.
Features for Premium Users
Like many English learning programs, EnglishClass101 has different subscriptions for learners available at different prices.
A Basic subscription gives you access to all lessons and some of the available vocabulary building tools.
A Premium subscription gives you access to flashcards with a “Spaced Repetition System,” a list of the 2000 most common words and word lists. It also gives you “Bonus Lesson Content.”
A Premium PLUS subscription offers even more. For starters, you get a “Professional Assessment” in which a real English teacher will test your English to find out your level. After that, you get a “Personalized Learning Plan” that will tell you what to learn based on what you already know. Best of all, you get 1-on-1 instruction with a real English teacher or tutor that can personalize your learning and give you feedback for what you need to work on.
It is worth mentioning that other users have found Premium PLUS to be false advertising. Many have said that the “Professional Assessment” is not by a teacher, but rather a computer. Further, the 1-on-1 instruction is a text conversation with someone, not interactive speaking.
EnglishClass101 Review: Does It Work?
There are quite a few highlights to the EnglishClass101 learning program.
To start, I was delighted to see that the program uses real English speech. Often programs use automated or computer voices—or no English speech at all—so it was nice to see that EnglishClass101 uses audio and video of real English speakers. This will be helpful for all English learners so they can hear how English really sounds.
I also thought that the vocabulary tools were well-made. The flashcards with Spaced Repetition System technology are fantastic for retaining new vocabulary. The word lists, dictionary and word-of-the-day feature are also useful for learners.
In my opinion, the biggest highlight is that there is so much included in EnglishClass101. There are literally 1000s of lessons across 100s of courses. You will never run out of things to learn and lessons cover a wide range of topics.
Areas to Improve
Even though there are good things about EnglishClass101, there are some things that need improvement.
Most importantly, it seems to me that you need to know some English to start using EnglishClass101. It starts off with complete English sentences and there are no translation tools to change between English and your native language. I recommend that learners build a bit of a basis for English before starting to learn EnglishClass101.
I would suggest that you start with a program that actually has content for complete beginners. This way you can figure out the basic vocabulary and grammar structures then use EnglishClass101 to further your skill level. For example, FluentU English has videos for those with zero knowledge of English.
Using a program like this will expose you to native English and get you started on your learning journey. Even once you have learned enough to start using EnglishClass101, you can continue to use FluentU in conjunction with EnglishClass101 as their content is extremely helpful at all points of the learning journey.
I also noticed that EnglishClass101 lacks real writing or speaking practice. Sure, you get to fill-in-the-blank with multiple choice words, but that’s not practicing how to write in English. Even the “Comments” section at the end of each lesson is disappointing and doesn’t really help you practice these skills in the way you need to.
Also, there is no way to speak out loud with anyone—not even with the 1-on-1 instruction in Premium PLUS. The best way to learn English is by having real-time conversations, but this is not a feature that is included in this program.
Speaking of Premium PLUS: it is not worth it. It seems that what is being offered is not what EnglishClass101 is advertising. I don’t recommend spending money on the plan as you can get the best parts of this app with the other plans.
Alternatives: How Does EnglishClass101 Compare to Other Programs?
With so many options for English learning programs available, it is easy to find other resources that compete with EnglishClass101.
One thing that EnglishClass101 does that really boosts their performance is use more video and audio tools. I noticed that EnglishClass101 uses more video and audio than Rosetta Stone, Babbel and Busuu. EnglishClass101 also has more written tutorials than these programs.
When looking at apps, I found that EnglishClass101 has more information than Duolingo and Memrise. Those programs might give you words and sentences to translate, but they don’t really explain why certain grammar rules are in place. EnglishClass101 provides a little bit more detail and context as to why things are the way they are.
While the extra detail can be great, it may also make it more difficult to use EnglishClass101. If you are an absolute beginner, the full English videos, audios and written tutorials may be hard to follow.
Lastly, we should note that the program is entirely in English. A course taught in your native language may be a better starting point if you have zero experience with English.
The Verdict: Should You Use EnglishClass101?
In short, yes. I believe that you should use EnglishClass101 if you already have a little bit of English knowledge. The app is incredibly thorough, making it a great tool for learners; however, learners first need to build a base in English elsewhere.
The English is authentic, the vocabulary tools are helpful, and the vast amount of content is incredible. I think that you can learn a lot from EnglishClass101, even if there are some things that the program could improve upon.
With that said, I don’t recommend paying for Premium PLUS. Many users have suggested that Premium PLUS is a lie, and you shouldn’t spend the money on it. I think you can get a lot from this app’s basic or premium plan when it comes to writing and vocabulary practice, but I would look to another resource to practice your speaking and writing.
EnglishClass101 may not be the starting point for learning English, but it can be a great resource for those that already have some knowledge to work with. Its native speaking content is a great asset and the great amount of content gives you plenty of options to study whatever you want to. Check it out!