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So you want to improve your English and you’re looking for English language lessons online? Good call!
By number of speakers (either native or as a second language), English is by far the most widely spoken language in the world.
That’s why the English language is so popular with language learners. Speaking English opens up a world of opportunities in travel, study and work. No matter how you look at it, English is essential to most international communication. This includes business, education and tourism.
With that in mind, I’ve searched far and wide to find high-quality free English language lessons online. These include:
- Audio and video English lessons to help with your listening comprehension
- English speaking courses to improve your pronunciation
- Reading and writing lessons since written English is often very different from spoken
Let’s take a look at the different ways you can study the English language for free online. Here are my top 10 free English courses, plus a few bonus courses!
Free English Language Lessons Online: My Top Choices
Here are my favourite websites for helping you learn English. They’re really useful because they help strengthen your English skills in the four main areas of language learning: speaking, listening, reading and writing.
Innovative Language: EnglishClass101
It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of Innovative Language’s approach to teaching languages. Right from lesson one, no matter which language you’re learning, you get to hear native speakers use natural speech that’s relevant to everyday life.
EnglishClass101 has lessons for all skill levels, including lessons for beginners. Not all of the episodes are free, but all are excellent, and there are several free lessons at each level. They include a combination of video and audio lessons with energetic teachers who are experienced in developing English curriculum for adults.
It’s worth giving it a try and – and if it’s a good fit for your learning style – investing in the paid version.
In addition, each lesson comes with written notes about what you’ll learn, to help with your English reading comprehension. There’s also a community forum where you can practise reading and writing by communicating with other EnglishClass101 learners.
A premium membership lets you access the full power of the website. This includes SRS flashcards, quizzes on each lesson, and a feature that lets you record yourself saying lines of dialogue and comparing your pronunciation to a native speaker’s.
USA Learns is a popular, comprehensive, free English course for adults. It has a combination of reading, listening, writing and speaking lessons. It also includes quizzes so you can check your progress.
The course was created with funding from the United States government, which is why it’s available free of charge. It’s also why some of the course content feels geared toward newcomers to the United States. For example, one lesson covers vocabulary related to paying taxes in the US. However, even this vocabulary will be relevant to many English learners, not just those in the US. Every lesson teaches a valuable grammar point as well.
The lessons go from lower beginner to intermediate. If you’re an advanced speaker, USA Learns will still be useful to you, but more as a tool for review.
Free English Language Lessons Online: Speaking Lessons
If you’re at all familiar with Fluent in 3 Months (Fi3M), you’ll know that I believe the best way to learn a language is to speak it. Here’s where you can get started speaking English.
Speak in a Week
Speak in a Week is a free email course from Fi3M that gets you speaking in a new language in just seven days.
If you’ve been learning English for a while and can read it to intermediate level (or with the help of Google Translate), I recommend that you check it out. Next week, you’ll be speaking in English!
Find out more about Speak in a Week here.
If you’re serious about improving your English speaking skills, then you’ll need to have real conversations with native English speakers.
How can you find native English speakers to talk with? Find English speakers who want to learn your language, then offer a language exchange.
My favourite website for finding a language exchange partner is italki.
Creating an italki account and finding language partners is completely free. All you have to do is create your profile and select English as your target language. Then you can search for English speakers whose target language is your native language.
Once you find some people, contact them to arrange a Skype language exchange at a time that works for both of you. During your language exchange, you’ll take turns talking for a little while in English so that you can practise, and then a little while in your native language so your partner can practise.
Not interested in spending half of your time teaching another person about your native language? You can also search for fellow English learners on italki. This way, you can spend your entire conversation speaking in English. The drawback here, though, is that you won’t know for sure whether you’re speaking correctly unless your conversation partner is an advanced speaker.
You can also find professional English teachers on italki to give you spoken English lessons. These lessons do cost money, but prices are often very reasonable, and are well worth the investment.
Free English Language Lessons Online: Video Lessons
When you use English in real life situations, you will of course be face-to-face with other English speakers. And that’s a good thing as an English learner. Speaking face-to-face with real people like this will give you a lot of visual clues (from their body language) about what they’re saying, even if you don’t understand every single word.
Watching English videos is a perfect way to have a similar experience – but from the comfort of your own computer or smartphone. You can listen to the people talking on the video, while also watching their body language and their surroundings for a better understanding of what they’re saying.
Learn English with Let’s Talk
Let’s Talk is an amazing in-depth collection of bite-sized English video lessons, all available for free on YouTube.
There are hundreds of videos about every aspect of the English language. For example, you’ll find videos about phrasal verbs, words for expressing boredom, words you might hear on the radio, and all sorts of idiomatic expressions.
Each Let’s Talk video is about ten minutes long – perfect to watch during your morning coffee break. They aim to teach a neutral, international English, though some lessons focus on specific dialects.
English Lessons by EngVid
Sometimes it’s difficult to find English video lessons that you really enjoy. It’s not because the material is bad, it’s that you just don’t “click” with the teacher. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could try out several teachers of an English course to find the one that you like most?
Enter EngVid. Eleven English teachers have made a series of over a thousand video lessons for English learners of every level. The lessons are sorted by proficiency level, topic, and (of course) by teacher. There’s bound to be at least one teacher on here that you connect with.
Watch a few lessons by each teacher to find the one that you enjoy learning from the most. Then settle in and have fun improving your English skills.
Long before the Internet, countless kids (and adults!) learned English by watching Sesame Street.
This timeless TV show is still going strong, and you can watch hours of clips for free on YouTube’s official Sesame Street channel.
Sesame Street strives to appeal to viewers of all ages. Many episodes feature celebrities that adults will recognize, while the content remains appropriate for the show’s younger audience.
Free English Language Lessons Online: Audio Lessons
For English audio lessons that you can listen to anywhere, anytime, podcasts are the perfect choice.
You can listen to podcasts on your computer or mobile device, and many episodes are only a few minutes long. This is perfect for when you’re driving to work, walking your dog, or when your bus pulls away exactly one minute before you arrive at the bus stop. Moments like these are the perfect time to squeeze in some studying to help you reach fluency faster.
Here is a small sample of some of the better podcasts for teaching English as a foreign language.
Innovative Language: EnglishClass101
I’ve already mentioned Innovative Language’s EnglishClass101 podcast as one of my favourite English classes online – and that’s why I’m giving it a second mention.
Whatever your current level of English, you’ll find fun and effective lessons to improve your English skills. With over 1000 lessons you can access from your smartphone or computer, and new lessons added all the time, you’ll never run out of material to learn.
There are plenty of free episodes to get you started, and if you like what you hear, I recommend signing up for the paid version that includes flashcards, quizzes, and access to all the lessons.
With over 1200 episodes, ESL Pod is one of the biggest English learning podcasts out there. The lessons cover a mind-boggling variety of real-life situations. The speaking speed is nice and slow, yet the vocabulary and grammar range from beginner to advanced.
Because of the slow, steady speaking pace, this podcast is good for students who want to expand their knowledge of English but whose listening comprehension skills aren’t yet at an advanced level.
Go Natural English Podcast
Do you like to mix things up? The Go Natural English Podcast from my friend Gabby (we made a video together here) includes lessons on vocabulary and grammar, as well as super useful language study tips. Whether you’re looking for idiomatic expressions, interviews with successful English learners, or info on what NOT to do when memorising English vocabulary, this podcast has something for you.
There are at least three new episodes released per week. So even if you blast through all 100+ episodes in one crazy binge-session, the fun isn’t over yet. Keep checking back every week for new episodes.
Free English Language Lessons Online: Reading and Writing Lessons
The Internet is bursting with written English, from Wikipedia to news websites, to countless blogs around the world. These are great for intermediate and advanced learners, but not so helpful for beginners.
English reading and writing lessons offer a structured approach. That way, you can learn the basics of English reading and writing, before moving onto the more complex rules of written English.
So instead of drowning in the sea of English websites filling the Internet, try the following resources geared specifically to English learners.
Currently, Duolingo has English courses for speakers of the following languages:
If you speak any of these languages at at least an intermediate level, you can use Duolingo to learn English grammar and vocabulary through reading, writing and some speaking exercises. If you don’t speak any of those languages, don’t worry. Duolingo has many more courses in the works for speakers of other languages who want to learn English, so check their website often for release dates.
ReadTheory is a reading comprehension website for upper beginners and higher. You need to register, but once you’ve done that it’s completely free. With ReadTheory you practise reading passages of English text, then take quizzes about them to see how well you understood.
English For Everyone Writing Practice Worksheets
If you want to practise writing in English but aren’t sure what to write about, take a look at English for Everyone.
Here you’ll find dozens of English writing worksheets for all skill levels. Each worksheet begins with a prompt to guide you about what to write. Some of them begin with part of a story, and it’s up to you to complete the story yourself. Others focus on real-life experiences such as sending a letter to a friend or coworker. There are even a few worksheets that will help you write persuasively.
There is no functionality to grade you on your writing ability on this website. To get feedback, I recommend you read what you’ve written to a native speaker during your next English lesson or language exchange.
What are your favourite free English language lessons online? Let me know about them in the comments.
And finally... One of the best ways to learn a new language is with podcasts. Read more about how to use podcasts to learn a language.