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Best Online Courses for Learning English — A Look at More Than 35 of Them

Undoubtedly one of the most practical languages one can learn from a global perspective, English is used just about everywhere in one form or another. Tourism, business, education, media… it’s everywhere.

The world’s number of English learners is massive, and this has given way to the production of a huge number of viable resources for learning English online. For beginners and those looking to get well-rounded practice in a variety of English skills, online courses are often the best way to go.

In this post, we’ll look at over 35 of these online courses for English learners. The “Top Tier” category contains our favorites, and we’ve listed the others roughly in order of how fond we are of them. While we have tested a ton of the courses ourselves, others we haven’t yet had the chance to try, so we made our best guess based on the information we could find regarding where to place them.

This list certainly isn’t exhaustive, but it should help you narrow down your search or give you a good place to start.

Top Tier

Babbel, Hello English, Pimsleur, Language Transfer, Memrise, Magoosh, Cambly, Duolingo

2nd Tier

Lingodeer, Busuu, BBC Learning English, Lingoda, Chatterbug, Rocket English, ABA English, ESLPod, Perfectly Spoken, Alison, Learn English Network, mmmEnglish, Live Lingua, English Central

3rd Tier

Mimic Method, Glossika, EdX, Coursera, Udemy, MOOEC, Mango Languages, Living Language, uTalk, USA Learns, ESOL Courses, engVid

Stay Clear

Transparent Language, Language101, Mondly, Rosetta Stone (more…)

Super Chinese Review — An Interactive Mandarin App

Quick Review

3.8 

Summary

Super Chinese is an app for learning Mandarin that claims to help users, “Learn efficiently using our proprietary artificial intelligence.” Produced by the creators of HSKOnline, it’s available for iOS and Android, is free to download, and requires a subscription for full access. Language practice happens in a variety of interactive exercises that test learners’ abilities in reading, writing, listening, and speaking Mandarin.

Quality

The app is easy to use and fun, but animated videos aren’t especially engaging.

Thoroughness

Practice is varied, and lessons build on each other nicely, but I think it’s doubtful you’ll come away fluent or proficient at writing.

Value

There are cheaper resources out there, but study time with Super Chinese should equip you with some practical language skills.

Languages

Mandarin Chinese

Price

A subscription to Super Chinese+ is €59.99/year, €24.99/three months, or €9.99/month. You can save 15% with the coupon code ‘alr15’.

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The 29 Best Apps for Learning English in 2020

Coming out just ahead of Mandarin Chinese, English is the most widely-spoken language in the world. It’s become a lingua franca in many places for tourism and business, and learning the language can pave the way to a mountain of personal and professional opportunities.

Given its popularity, it’s no surprise that there is almost an endless number of ways to learn the language. One of the most accessible and convenient methods is through language apps.

There are so many apps catering to English learners, though, that sifting through them to find the ones that do a great job or offer just the type of practice you’re looking for can be a challenge.

We’ve tried out a ton of these language apps and have come up with this list to help learners narrow the field. The list certainly isn’t exhaustive, but we’ve tried to mention the most popular ones and those that we like the most. They’re sorted into categories by what they do best, though some could admittedly fit into more than one category.

Take your time and good luck! There are sure to be at least a few that meet your needs.

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Skritter Review: Solid Chinese and Japanese Writing Practice

Quick Review

4.2 

Summary

Skritter is a language app that teaches learners to write characters in Chinese and Japanese. It uses handwriting recognition technology in conjunction with a spaced repetition system to teach stroke order, meaning, and vocabulary. Users can choose from many pre-made study decks, including some from popular textbooks or programs. It’s also possible to create your own decks.

Quality

The app has a great design and quality content; the handwriting recognition isn’t perfect, but it’s rarely inaccurate.

Thoroughness

It sets out to teach reading and writing and does a great job, but some additional explanations would be nice.

Value

The SRS makes practice efficient and worthwhile, but some people may only want to pay for a month at a time.

Languages

Chinese and Japanese

Price

One Month$14.99
Six Months$59.99
One Year$99.99
Two Years$179.99

 

You can save 45% on your first six months by signing up using the link below.

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Coffee Break Review: Italian, French, and German Courses

Quick Review

Summary

The Coffee Break Languages series teach languages through podcast-style lessons. The lessons have a casual feel and offer lots of explanations, building on each other nicely. Courses are available for a one-time purchase, but much of the material is also available for free as podcasts or Youtube videos.

Quality

The audio is of high quality and the instruction is thoughtful.

Thoroughness

There are lots of explanations, and you can start as an absolute beginner, but practice opportunities are limited.

Value

There is a lot of high-quality content available for free; the paid courses might not be worth the price for some.

Languages

Italian, German, French, Spanish, Mandarin Chinese, Swedish, English

Price

Many audio lessons are free. The premium version of each season includes extra materials and costs £80 (roughly $100). 

One Season£80
Two-Season Bundle£145
Three-Season Bundle£210
Four-Season Bundle£255

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Mandarin Blueprint Review — A Unique Teaching Method

Quick Review

Summary

Mandarin Blueprint is an online course for learning Mandarin Chinese. It teaches the language through videos and flashcards on the Anki flashcard app. It also makes use of the Hanzi Movie Method, which is a mnemonic memorization technique involving visualizations. The course is very thorough and designed for absolute beginners looking to build a solid foundation in Mandarin.

Quality 

There’s some great teaching material, but the course relies on third-party resources like Google Slides and Anki.

Thoroughness

The course is detailed enough to take absolute beginners to the intermediate level.

Value 

The initial phases are time-consuming, but serious learners will get a lot of value from the course.

Languages

Mandarin Chinese

Price

A subscription to Mandarin Blueprint is $30 billed monthly or $288 billed annually ($24/month).

You can save 20% on your subscription by using coupon code “ALR20”

Visit Mandarin Blueprint

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Cudoo Review — I Wouldn’t Even Use it if it Were Free

Quick Review

0.6 

Summary

Cudoo is an online learning platform that offers courses in over 160 languages. The platform also offers courses teaching soft skills and other professional development courses. Certificates are available upon course completion, and courses are provided to libraries and non-profits for free. We feel that the quality of the language courses is quite low, and that the prices are relatively high.

Quality

It’s nice to have native speaker audio, but I personally found the course to offer very little learning potential.

Thoroughness

The course didn’t cover everything listed under “Course Content” and offers no explanations.

Value

This course is way overpriced in my opinion. I wouldn’t even use it if it were free.

Languages

There are courses in over 160 languages on Cudoo. You’ll find languages as rare as Alsatian, Jerriais, and Navajo alongside more popular languages like Spanish and German.

Price

Price varies by course, from $4.99 to $24.99, with language bundles costing up to $199.

Visit Cudoo

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Yabla Review — Affordable and Effective Video-Learning

Quick Review

4.3 

Summary:

Yabla is a language-learning platform that uses videos with interactive subtitles and language games to help users learn a language. It’s currently available on the web and for iOS, with an Android app in development. Its videos are of varying difficulty levels and types, and are either sourced from the internet or originally produced, but all videos use native speakers.

Platform

It’s very easy and enjoyable to use, but the flashcard feature could be more developed.

Platform

While they vary slightly for each language, the video libraries are extensive and full of interesting content.

Value

It’s most valuable for learners at the intermediate and advanced levels and is priced very fairly, but you’ll only get access to one language.

Languages

Chinese, Italian, German, French, Spanish, English

Price

After a 15-day free trial, users can subscribe to one of the following options:

One Month$12.95
Six Months$54.95
One Year$99.95

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FluentU Review — More Expensive than the Competition

Quick Review

3.1 

Summary

FluentU is a language-learning platform that uses real-world videos and interactive subtitles to create an immersive learning experience. The videos take on a variety of forms, including commercials, music videos, interviews, and more. Accompanying quizzes give users the chance to practice language used in videos. 

FluentU offers videos in nine different languages and is available for iOS, Android, and on the web. Most of its content is beyond the beginner level, but it has videos for learners at all levels.

Platform

It’s very straightforward and easy to use, though not especially visually pleasing.

Content

There is a wide variety of videos, but they’re short and disconnected. They also aren’t suitable for absolute beginners.

Value

It’s not a very complete way to study a language, which makes it hard to justify the subscription price.

Languages

Chinese, Spanish, French, German, English, Japanese, Italian, Korean, Russian

Price

After a 14-day free trial, users can purchase one of two subscription options. Subscriptions grant access to all FluentU languages.

Monthly Subscription: $30/month

Annual Subscription: $240/year ($20/month)

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Yabla vs. FluentU vs. Others: Yabla Barely Takes the Lead

As a teaching medium, video has some serious advantages over text and audio: it’s entertaining, easy to interact with, and can make the digital learning experience more relatable and lifelike.

And given the amount of video content that’s produced every day around the world in just about any language, the potential for language learning is high.

New companies are jumping on the video-teaching train all the time, and this review will aim to sort through several options, including two heavyweights in the arena: Yabla and FluentU. In addition to those two, we also tried out 3ears, Language Learning with Netflix, LingoPie, and CaptionPop.

The unifying feature among all of these resources is that they use interactive subtitles, which are basically subtitles you can click on and translate on-demand. Some offer additional practice opportunities, some are free, and all have different types of content on hand. (more…)