Ten websites for improving your English online

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Learning English online: Coming to England and to take an English course is amazing, but what if that isn't an option?

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Many of our language students come to us to learn English not just because they want to but because it’s a smart thing to do. With English being one of the main languages in global economic use many businesses and individuals are turning to England and learning the language to improve their chances of being successful in their futures.

But what do you do if you don’t have the time to join an English language course? What do you do if you can’t afford to come to an English Language school here in the UK? What are your options after you’ve done an English course, moved home again and don’t want to lose what you learned while you were in England?

We’ve taken the time to search the internet and highlight the best websites for you to learn and practise your English online without having to spend a penny or even leave the room you are in!

Cambridge Exam Course – Eastbourne School of English – ELC Eastbourne

Need to focus on your listening? ELLLO is a great place to expand your English vocabulary with their huge collection of over 1500 short videos and audio clips. The videos feature people from all over the world with the range of accents which is a great way to improve your pronunciation as well as develop your listening skills. They also have online lessons that you can take so you can learn even more.

Similar to ELLLO is English Central. Based mostly on YouTube, English Central has a digital library full of pronunciation and listening videos as well as practical language advice, a great resource for English online. You can register for free, after which you set your own level from 1 to 7, and then choose between General, Business and Kids English. The idea is that you opt for a tutor-led experience, but you don’t have to do that. You do get a free tutor session to test your level.

Another incredibly useful listening website for ESL and EFL learners is **Randall’s ESL Cyber Listening Lab. Started by language lover Randall Davies in 1998, ESL-Lab provides a range of listening comprehension activities for learners of all abilities, from absolute beginners to experienced, advanced-level English students. His site contains quizzes, ‘Culture Videos’ and interviews with native English speakers, all designed to improve your comprehension, speaking, vocabulary, and cultural awareness.

Lyrics Training is loads of fun and it’s available in different languages and you can select different genres too. It has everything from Harry Styles to Ed Sheeran to Wham! You get to learn the words to your favourite English language music while improving your IELTS listening skills. Music from Americans like J-Lo, Brits like Adele and even Sia’s Australian twang will help you improve your accent recognition in no time. Whilst you can listen to music and see the lyrics on apps like iTunes, this site goes one further and asks you to insert missing English words into the gaps, and if you’re not quick enough, the song pauses and waits for you!

If you want to study English grammar, expand your English vocabulary, practise the sounds of English and study colloquial English all based on your own level of English, then Oxford University Press’English File Online is an amazing resource for your English language needs. The site offers seven different levels for students, from Beginner to Advanced, and contains interactive exercises, games, and a range of links that include audio and video downloads, phrasebooks, dyslexic-friendly reading texts and more.

Oxford Word Skills is a 3-level English vocabulary course based around topics that help you to practise and learn new English words and phrases in context, no matter if you are at basic, intermediate or advanced level. This site boasts a range of learning resources, including downloadable audio files, flash cards, mini-phrasebooks and activities such as crosswords, speaking games and labelling exercises – all presented clearly and concisely with lots of opportunities to practise English and boost your confidence with the language.

Top tips for Cambridge English Exam speaking tests (FCE and CAE)! Whether you are taking a Cambridge Advanced examination course in England or studying for a Cambridge BEC exam in your own country, Cambridge English TV is a must! Watch Cambridge practise tests for PET, FCE, CAE and BEC amongst other Cambridge English exams. In 2022 Cambridge launched this excellent combined English learning and assessment YouTube channel with a large selection of videos that are free to watch, with content that includes teaching resources, webinars, and test tips, and – for absolute beginners - the basic building blocks of the English language.

Looking for free advice and tips on how to pass Cambridge English Exams (Key, Preliminary, First, Advanced, Proficiency) and IELTS? Possibly the best online resource for Cambridge English FCE and CAE exam preparation, amongst other examinations, Flo-Joe provides useful tips, Cambridge FCE and CAE practice tests and development of the four skills as well as grammar and vocabulary. Floe-Joe also offers Exam Success Plus units for students in First, Advanced and Proficiency levels, along with a Writing Critique and Correction service if you want to ensure your work is of the highest standard for your chosen examination.

Practise all areas of English language. Learn new English idioms, practise your English pronunciation, develop your listening skills in English with the latest news stories or follow the Business English course ‘English at Work’ with BBC Learning English. If you are a teacher of English, you can get lesson plans and teaching ideas from the BBC’s Shakespeare Speaks series. This BBC site provides a whole range of quizzes, courses, stories to read and even a Test Your Level section where you can gauge how proficient you are with English. Throw in downloadable podcasts, pronunciation workshops and ‘English in a Minute’ sections, and the BBC has you covered.

Learn all about British Life and Culture. Project Britain is a great resource for learning English online and finding out about UK life and culture. For example, you can learn all about British money before you arrive to study English in England or discover some of the differences between British and American English. This fun site covers everything from British superstitions and the history of the Royal family to notable yearly events and even a section on UK pubs and drinking. With more than 30,000 pages and counting, Project Britain is a fascinating resource for you if you are thinking of learning English in 2023.

Hope this helps on your English language journey!