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.
These courses are the best of the best. They generally offer instructions in a variety of different languages, and lessons are structured nicely. It’s unlikely that any online course will be the only resource you need to reach fluency in English, but these should reliably provide quality education in a variety of skills.
Babbel is known for producing high-quality interactive courses. They may not be the most exciting courses available, but you’ll get exceptionally well-structured lessons as a trade-off.
Babbel’s English course is available in six different languages and is heavy on in-depth explanations. Practice comes in the form of bite-sized exercises and exposure to short dialogues, native speaker audio, and practical language. It makes a good option for beginners looking for a comprehensive first start with English. Review.
Pimsleur stands out from the others on this list for the strong emphasis it places on oral communication skills. The course gets you speaking right away, meaning passive listening isn’t really an option. This is great for getting learners used to listening to the language as it’s actually spoken and to trying to recreate the sounds themselves.
As an added bonus, the course is available in 14 different languages. The Pimsleur Method has been around for quite a long time, and it’s still a quality option for learners that want to get speaking right away. Note, though, that you won’t get much in the way of reading, writing, or grammar practice. Review.
For aural learners on a budget, this course is a dream, though it’s important to note that it will only work for Spanish speakers. The audio lessons that make up the course take a unique approach in that they teach learners how to think their way through English instead of relying on memorization.
Instruction draws heavily on the relationship between Spanish and English, which can be enlightening and lead to the sensation that you’re “hacking” the language. The course is totally free to use, as is the app. Review.
This is a super popular option for learning just about any language. The site leverages a spaced repetition system (SRS) and user-created courses to make it one of the best places to get quality language practice.
The user-created courses are free and offer a lot of value. This is especially true in languages like English, where there are many, many free courses to choose from. The official Memrise courses are also a really good option. They offer things like native speaker audio, videos of native speakers, and a variety of exercises that build on each other in a logical way. Review.
With video lessons, timed exercises, flashcards, progress tracking, and a competitive element, Magoosh is an app that provides quality test preparation in a variety of standardized exams. Some of these measure English proficiency, such as IELTS or TOEFL, and others like the LSAT or GRE are for other academic or professional purposes.
Passing exams in English can be an important step for English learners to gain access to opportunities at home or abroad, and preparing for these exams can be challenging. Magoosh is one of the most popular resources when it comes to test-prep, and it’s also available as an app. Review.
This option pairs the casual convenience of an app with the value of a personal tutor. Perhaps the greatest value here is that the platform makes it easy to connect with an English-speaking tutor whenever you like. Learners can choose to either follow one of the prepared Cambly lessons or just have a casual chat with the tutor.
The prepared lessons follow slides, but they are written entirely in English, so it may be better suited to learners that already have some basic English abilities. Whatever your English goals and interests, Cambly is a solid source of inexpensive communication practice. There are also some options for learners trying to prepare for IELTS or TOEFL exams.
Chances are good you’ve heard of this one. Offering English courses for speakers of over 20 different languages, its approach emphasizes convenience and accessibility. It’s one of the few resources out there that is completely free, and the fact that it’s available in so many languages and as an app makes its popularity no surprise.
Practice activities on Duolingo are engaging and never take more than a couple of minutes. It’s ideal for anyone looking for an easy way to get some low-commitment practice in their spare time. It’s also got a visually appealing layout, feeling more like a game than a learning resource. There are better options for getting serious language practice, but for a free way to pick up some English vocab, Duolingo’s just right. Review.
There are still some excellent courses in this category. Some reasons they could be here instead of the “top tier” are that they only offer instruction in English or a limited number of different languages or that they’re more limited in scope or are slightly more expensive. It’s also possible we made a mistake, and a 2nd Tier course is really fantastic. There are still some gems in here.
Similar to uber-popular Duolingo, Lingodeer uses gamification and quick interactive exercises to provide language practice that’s as convenient as it is fun. It stands out from Duolingo by offering more in-depth explanations, better audio, and better lesson structure, though you still might run into some words that feel like they were thrown in too early.
The English course on Lingodeer is currently only available in Chinese, but it can make a good substitute for Duolingo if you’re looking for something a little bit more comprehensive. Review.
Busuu offers English instruction in 11 different languages and is similar in approach to Babbel. The interface is exceptionally nice with this one, as is the nifty social feature. The feature allows users to get feedback from others on their pronunciation and writing skills and is free to use.
Practice happens through interactive activities with native speaker audio that are accompanied by grammar explanations, though they might not be the most in-depth explanations you’ll find. Overall, Busuu is a potentially good place to get practice in a wide variety of English skills, especially for those at lower levels. It’s also hugely popular. Review.
The BBC actually offers a variety of English courses, all serving a different level or aspect of the language. The courses are free, available in the app of the same name, and they’re all very easy to use.
Naturally, this is a resource that’s especially appropriate for learners interested in learning British English. There are audio lessons, topical news lessons, quizzes, videos, and lessons on slang terms and idioms.
Lingoda offers the advantage of a structured course along with support from a real teacher. Classes will take place almost entirely in English, and can be taken as a group lesson or private lesson. Taking group classes lowers the price a bit and may be favorable to learners that prefer a classroom environment, but it can also mean you’ll get slightly less speaking time. In any case, the opportunity to get real-life speaking practice and personalized feedback is super valuable.
The variety of lessons is great — there are hundreds of lessons, making the resource suitable for learners of just about any level. Another nice feature of Lingoda is its flexibility: schedule a lesson at just about any time you like. Review.
Chatterbug offers an English course for Spanish speakers and could make a good option for someone looking for structure, convenience, and one-on-one speaking practice. The course blends live tutoring sessions with interactive self-study and a guided curriculum. It’s different from other online tutor platforms in that the teachers follow a guided lesson and help you complete prescribed activities.
It isn’t the cheapest resource out there, and the reading and writing practice opportunities are limited, but it could be worth it if you really like the platform. Review.
The Rocket English course is available with instruction in Spanish or Japanese. You can also study with instructions in English if you already have some basic English skills. The Rocket Languages courses vary in quality by language and, while we haven’t tested the English course, are generally less than impressive.
The ways in which Rocket English excels are its easy-to-use platform, the thoroughness of the curriculum, and the exposure it provides to native-speaker audio. Unfortunately, the practice opportunities can get overly repetitive and the content isn’t very engaging. Review.
ABA English is available as an online course and an app. It takes a multimedia approach to teaching English, using 144 short ABA Films. These are short films created by ABA that depict real-life scenarios and seem to have a fairly high production value.
There are also 144 grammar videos, over 1000 interactive exercises for practicing writing, listening, vocabulary, and grammar, exams, and certificates. Six of the 144 units are available to try for free, and there’s a free seven-day trial for a premium membership. This app could be a good option for learners looking for a more engaging experience — instruction is available in eight different languages.
The ESLPod English courses are for English learners at the intermediate and advanced levels. The audio lessons include dialogues that learners can listen to at “learning speed” or “normal speed” and come with explanations of key terms and potentially difficult content.
In ESLPod’s General English course there are two types of lessons covering either Daily English or Cultural English, each of which deals with English as it’s used in America and aspects of American culture. These lessons contain either 20 or 30 minutes of audio and come with study guides. Free sample lessons are available before purchase.
Perfectly Spoken offers structured online courses at five levels, from beginner to advanced. Lessons are delivered via video, and users can study for ten hours each month for free. Paid plans allow access to more courses, a study plan, and a certificate upon completion. The video lessons are taught by qualified teachers and cover topics like writing skills, English for job interviews, meeting skills, and more. There’s also a free level test you can take to find out which material to start with.
Alison is a source of free online courses, with quite a few for learners of English. Topics covered in the courses are diverse, and there’s content that will be valuable to just about anyone, whether you’re learning English to work in the tourism industry or for academic reasons. Many courses include a certificate or diploma, but note that you will have to pay for one upon completion.
This a resource that’s been around since 1999, providing support to both teachers and learners of English. Instruction is only available in English, so you’ll need a basic understanding of the language to get much use out of the site, but there are lots of activities covering a variety of topics and difficulty levels, including some basics for learners at lower levels. One exciting thing about this free resource is the variety of practice opportunities. There are interactive quizzes and games alongside pronunciation lessons, spelling drills, and lessons on British culture.
Particularly interested in the Australian accent and like videos? This one could be just right for you. mmmEnglish is the creation of Emma, a CELTA-certified English teacher from Australia. The mmmEnglish YouTube channel is thriving and well, full of free video content covering things like pronunciation and grammar.
In addition to the YouTube videos, there are a few mmmEnglish courses available for purchase on the website, including what Emma calls the Imitation Technique. Instructions are all in English.
Live Lingua provides solutions for English learners by pairing them with tutors for online Skype lessons. The platform markets itself as a boutique online language school, offering a more personalized approach than some competitors. Users are assigned a personal class coordinator who ideally pairs them with a teacher that’s a good fit for their level and interests. One-on-one lessons happen via Skype, and the teachers are responsible for coming up with a curriculum tailored to the student’s needs. Review.
This is an English-learning resource that uses videos in its courses to teach a variety of practical English skills. The format generally has learners watch a video, learn the vocabulary used in the video, and then use the language in speech, with the video as a model. Pronunciation is then graded by voice recognition technology.
Premium members also have the opportunity to “GoLive!” for some one-on-one tutor time over the phone after watching a video lesson. Instruction all happens in English, and courses are available in a variety of subjects, including Business English, Social English, and Media English.
Don’t rule out any of the below courses just because they’re in the “3rd Tier” category. Many of them have unique advantages and they could be the kind of course you’re looking for.
This is a decent option for learners looking for interactive practice on a slick, if not slightly overwhelming, app. Instruction is available in 24 languages, including more than ten Indian languages.
It could be useful for getting convenient practice whenever you have a few moments to spare, but beware: we spotted several translation errors and some unrealistic language. There’s a wide variety of lesson types and styles, across different difficulty levels.
If you’re extra interested in learning English by listening to native speakers, Glossika could make a good option for you. Ideally, the course will help learners improve their speaking skills by having them repeat phrases after listening to native speakers. This is the approach that they advertise will help you “Absorb English naturally… Without memorization.”
Glossika offers materials in a huge number of languages. The fact that learners can use any of these languages to practice any other language would ideally make it suitable for just about anyone. There’s a tradeoff, though, and it’s that you won’t find any instruction tailored to learning a specific language. Review.
These online platforms offer access to a bunch of free university courses. There are courses that explicitly teach English as well as those with English instruction. They benefit from the quality and structure that usually come with university courses, but they might not appeal to learners that prefer a more light-hearted approach. Another benefit for some is that a certificate of completion is available for purchase upon completion.
Udemy is an online directory of courses that cover a huge variety of subjects, including English. Anybody can create a course on Udemy, meaning that there are courses covering just about any subject you could be interested in. Lower-level English students will be able to find courses explicitly teaching the language, and those that are more advanced could elect to sign up for a course in a different subject, taught in English.
Since anybody can create courses here, quality isn’t guaranteed, so be sure to check out the reviews. It’s also worth looking out for sales, they’re frequent and the discounts are major.
This is another source of free online university courses, but the ones here are all curated for English learners. Registration is required to use the content, but a name and email address is all you’ll need to provide. The courses are divided into categories based on which skills they focus on: reading, writing, speaking, or listening. All instruction is en English and therefore most suitable for learners beyond the absolute beginner stage.
One of the biggest perks of a subscription to Mango Languages is that you’ll gain access to material in over 70 languages, a polyglot’s dream. You can also opt to pay a bit less if you only need access to one language. The English course comes with instruction in over 20 different languages and features an attractive interface as well as useful cultural notes that accompany practice activities.
Things to be aware of: it’s really only suitable for learners at a beginner level, and you won’t get super in-depth practice with writing or grammar. Review.
In order to use this course successfully, you’ll need a basic understanding of English or a dictionary and a lot of patience, because the English course uses English instructions. Lessons cover a range of difficulties, from beginner to advanced, and are full of flashcards and games.
The flashcard feature is fairly basic, but the games are actually fairly engaging at first. They might get stale after repeated use, but you’ll get to take part in word searches, a bubble-popping game, and even defeat a dragon. Living Language offers a free one-week trial, so you can always try it out for free if it sounds interesting. Review.
This is another app with courses available in a staggering number of languages. It’s essentially a slick flashcard app with several built-in memorization games and some opportunities for recording yourself speaking to practice pronunciation. It won’t give you any grammar practice or teach you how to form your own sentences, but it can make an inexpensive way to memorize some useful set phrases. Review.
This resource serves as a useful tool for independent learners looking for extra English practice at a time that suits their schedule.
There are three separate English courses offered by USA Learns, and collectively they cover 800 English words and material at the beginner and intermediate levels. All instruction is in English, and all courses are completely free to use. The interface and material may not be the most exciting, but there’s a lot of value here for self-directed learners interested in taking advantage of a free resource.
This is an English language website with a bunch of free educational material for learners and teachers of English. It started as a place for adult learners in the UK to get free learning materials. It has since transitioned into offering materials such as lesson plans for English teachers as well as content for independent learners.
For learners looking for access to free practice in a variety of skills such as grammar, listening, writing, or for cultural lessons on the UK or USA, the site is worth checking out.
If you’re looking for free English video lessons, engVid is a great place to look. There are over 1500 videos on the site, all available for free and covering topics at a range of difficulty levels, though the majority seem to be best for learners at lower levels. Instruction happens in English, though, so absolute beginners may struggle to understand what’s going on.
The videos are of English teachers in front of a whiteboard and are similar in form to a lecture. They aren’t super engaging because of this, but it’s a decent free resource if you enjoy lots of in-depth explanations.
To put it lightly, these aren’t our favorites. There’s a chance they could be what you’re looking for, but we’ve tried all of them and have found multiple things we aren’t fond of. Still, an open mind is never a bad thing.
This resource offers English courses with instructions in over ten languages. It markets itself as “the most complete language-learning system for independent learners,” but we found the course to be repetitive and without a lot of in-depth instruction.
One of the most appealing aspects of Transparent Language is that there are courses covering over 100 languages. It could make for a good option for getting a cursory introduction to a less common language, but for popular languages like English, we think there are plenty of better options out there. Overall, this one’s easy to use and has a nice design, but it lacks quality explanations and mostly relies on phrase memorization. Review.
Language101 isn’t a resource that we recommend. The courses focus on speaking and comprehension, leaving out skills like grammar or any kind of writing. There aren’t any language explanations in the courses, and learning only happens through memorization of words and phrases. This kind of education likely won’t enable you to produce your own sentences easily and could make for seriously slow progress. The English course is only available for Spanish speakers. Review.
From a distance, Mondly looks a lot like other popular platforms — namely, Busuu, Babbel, Duolingo, Lingodeer, etc. A closer inspection, however, reveals a course that just doesn’t compare in quality of explanations and course structure. We also came across some information that was simply incorrect, a potential side-effect of courses that are created according to the same formula no matter the language.
On the plus side, it’s not overly expensive and it could equip you with some useful travel vocabulary if you’re preparing for a trip. English instruction is available in more than 25 languages. Review.
This is another mega-popular language resource. It takes an immersive approach to teaching English, meaning you won’t get grammar explanations or translations for anything. The exercises are repetitive and may quickly get boring, and it isn’t cheap either. That said, if you insist on checking out the immersive Rosetta Stone method, the course is supposed to work for speakers of any language. Review.
This list is long, and it’s nowhere near complete. You could seemingly spend a lifetime looking for new English-learning resources and never come up short.
Online courses can be great for getting a bigger-picture introduction to a language with practice in several different skills, but it’s rare that they’ll ever be the only resource you need if your goal is to reach fluency. We’ve also compiled a list of our favorite apps for learning English, and the best podcasts for learning the language, some of which can make great supplementary tools.
Wherever you are in your search for online English courses, remember that the numbers are on your side! With a little patience, you should be able to find the perfect course for your needs.
Don’t see your favorite online English course in this post? Let us know below!