Free, isn’t that a beautiful word? That excitement you get when someone gives something to you free of charge? It is a wonderful feeling indeed, especially when learning English. Although many students need a person that keeps them accountable, the amount of progress a student will have depends on how much time and effort is putting into learning.
This is when free resources come into play. They allow a student to keep nurturing even after he/she leaves the classroom, and experience has shown me such students are the ones that get to be fluent and achieve their language learning goals. I have the case of a friend of mine who’s an online Spanish teacher. He never stepped a foot into an institute, however, by using free resources to learn English from the internet, he got to be fluent in the language. Over time, he got his certification to Teach English as a Foreign Language (TEFL).
Stories like this one show me that it is possible to get really far by just having the will and discipline to study every day, even if you don’t have the resources to pay for an English course, and the rise of online English resources have made even easier to learn at your own pace.
How to Use Them Right?
Know what’s available: You have a lot of materials to choose from: you can choose between podcasts, audio lessons, mobile apps, written lessons and so on. Choose a couple of them to start of with so don’t get overwhelmed.
Know you current level: If you still don’t know what level you have according to the european framework of reference for languages, sit the free British Council Test or Cambridge Assessment Test . They will assess your English proficiency on a scale of A1 (beginner) to C2 (proficient). After knowing this, you will know what resources work best for you.
Have someone to stay accountable to: This could be either a friend of yours, a fellow classmate. Tell them that you started to learn English on your own and ask them if they can check on you.
Start learning! The 8 best resources to learn English for free
If you are used to the layout of a textbook and want to keep learning this way, then you have to use LEO network. Here, you can find 57 lessons spread across 12 units. You can click on the small arrow of every unit to see the lesson plan and access it.
Take advantage of the test and assignment they give at the end of every lesson and leave a comment in case you have a question. If you do so, a moderator will then assist you. To practice even further, they will suggest a song for you to practice at every level!
EnglishClass101 has lessons for all skill levels, including 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 great teachers who are experienced in developing English classes for adults. Although you can learn a lot from the free version, it would not be a bad idea to invest in the paid version as well. You will see it’s totally worth it!
BBC Learning English
This resource is ideal for intermediate and advanced learners. In this website, 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.
You start by choosing your level from the upper menu, which will bring you to the list of lessons. Then I recommend you to click on the Vocabulary Reference of every unit and copy the words and their explanations in your notebook. This tried-and-true method will help you build your vocabulary by creating your own dictionary.
King’s College London Basic English Course
With this method, we raise the bar to the amazing world of MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses). These are formal classes that you can take online, created by the most prestigious universities in the world. Always wanted to know how a lesson at Harvard would be like? Look no further.
You simply need to sign up to FutureLearn to access their Basic English course. It’s provided by King’s College London and takes four weeks to complete, with a study volume of four hours per week. It’s designed for beginners who want to learn English for school or work, with a focus on learners from the Middle East and North Africa, although it is still relevant if you don’t fit these criteria, though.
By the end of the course, you’ll have learned how to express yourself in everyday situations and improve your listening skills. You’ll then be ready to enroll in the next course: Basic English 2: Pre-Intermediate.
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. As a general rule, always subscribe to the course via email to receive an alert once the course opens.
This is one of the best MOOC providers so far. It offers courses from universities we wouldn’t have thought have access to. They are not targeted for beginners though. If you are an intermediate-advanced student, it will be particularly useful to you. Among the courses you will see in the platform are: How to write professional emails in English, English for Media Literacy, English for journalism, English for research publication, etc.
The website is intuitive and quite easy to navigate. You can choose your level and your topic of interest and find lessons accordingly. With over 1,350 lessons covering vocabulary, grammar, pronunciation, business English, slang and English exam preparation, and so on, you can be certain you will find all the material you need. 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.
Dave’s ESL Cafe
In this website, you’ll find grammar, phrasal verbs, idioms, and slang lessons, besides quizzes and student forums.
All lessons are written 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, because this website is a really good source of information! Every lesson is thoroughly explained, with a help center at the tip of your fingers in case you need further explanations.
Being able to use your language skills (and preferably with a native) is one of the most crucial steps to become fluent in a language. You have two choices for this: you can either move to a foreign country where they speak the language, or you can have a language exchange partner to practice with. The second choice is way achievable than the first one and you can implement it right now!
The only thing you have to do is create an account and select English as your target language. As you browse through different people, you will see language students that are native English speakers and are learning the language you speak. You can write them a message and set a time to have a Skype call. During the call, you will both get a chance to practice and improve your language skills!
As you can see, there are countless amounts of resources to choose from to learn English, and you can start today for free! Over time, you might want to hire a private teacher to help you in specific areas or buy a more specialized course, but for now, the willingness to learn is all you need to get started.