10 Best Online English Resources To Rock Your Studies
We all need help sometimes, and knowing where to find great resources and how they can serve you can save you loads of time. This top ten list is all about some amazing online free resources that are available. Best part? You can use these to bring your English to a new level and most of the time you won’t even feel like you’re working!
I love this site because you can learn new vocabulary and brush up on your grammar skills. Better still, it’s both a game with multiple levels and a charity. Freerice.com is a game-like environment that allows you to donate rice to those suffering from hunger, simply by playing. The site earns the money to provide food through displaying ads at the bottom of the screen. That’s why you should make sure your ad blocker is turned off. There are different categories included, so you should choose either grammar or vocabulary, which you’ll find under the category “English”.
Many students I work with say, “I’m going to make a party this weekend.” Though I totally understand the speaker, it sounds wrong. Why? Because we don’t use the verb “make” with “party”. We would say “have a party” or “throw a party” instead. They are collocations; two or more words that just sound right together. The best way to learn collocations is through exposure to the language. That means reading and listening a whole lot, and then practicing with an English friend, tutor, or language exchange partner.
However, when it comes to studying and revising, you can use an online dictionary of collocations. If you’re interested in checking one out, I recommend Ozdic because it’s easy to use and includes short example sentences for many of the collocations. To use Ozdic, pick a noun, adjective, verb or adverb and hit search to see all the words it can partnered with.
THE FREE DICTIONARY
I love holding a book in my hands, and in my opinion, nothing beats a real, paper English dictionary. However, I realize it’s just not that convenient: heavy, big, hard to carry around; there are many disadvantages. If you’re looking for a go-to online dictionary, I suggest thefreedictionary.com. It’s got definitions for all the words you’d find elsewhere, but it also has lots of idioms and phrasal verbs too. Most of the defintions come with short example sentences, which are priceless when it comes to actually understanding how to use the phrase in real life. You can visit the website or download the free app.
6 MINUTE ENGLISH
Oh, I love the BBC. The UK’s national television and radio station. It provides news, TV series, documentaries and also great content made specifically for English learners! Their series, 6 Minute English, gives you listening practice and teaches you new words and phrases. Each lesson takes just six minutes! Six minutes!
TED, which stands for Technology, Education, and Design, is definitely for more advanced English learners. On the site, you can watch short talks given by experts and thought leaders from around the world. The range of topics is endless- art, science, music, communication, psychology and everything else you could think of.
On each video, you have the option to add subtitles, and there’s an interactive script of each talk too, which gives you the ability to read along if that’s your preference. Because there are so many TED talks available, you may want to do a simple Google search beforehand to help you find one you’ll enjoy. Are you interested in the environment? Go to Google and type in “Best TED talks about the environment.” Or you can try this search: “Best TED talks on learning a new language.”
When I’m teaching a class, one of the activities my students always enjoy is listening to a song and filling in the missing words. It’s an engaging, fun, way to learn new vocabulary and a get listening practice.
These days, you don’t need a teacher to do this for you. All you need is a love of music and a wifi connection! Go to lyricstraining.com, pick a music video and choose your game mode- beginner, intermediate, advanced or expert. As the song starts, you’ll see blanks that you fill in with the correct missing word. If you get a word wrong, the music video stops there, and you try again till you get it right. To really take advantage of this activity, take note of two or three words you don’t know and look them up at thefreedictionary.com.
Technology has modernized the idea of language exchange and made it as convenient as making a cup of tea. Now you can interact with English speakers all over the world, and get instant feedback and corrections. For free!
Lang-8 is focused on short written language. Basically, you collect points by correcting someone else’s writing in your mother tongue. You can then use these points to have an English speaker correct your writing. It's a great win-win experience where you are both helping and being helped, all in the comfort of your own home.
Another language exchange, Hinative allows you to post both audio or text in English. People will tell you if your English sounds natural or not, and give you advice on how to make it better.
From grammar to vocabulary to your pronunciation, someone will be there to help. And you can do the same with people learning your native language. I actually go on Hinative pretty often myself and love it! Hope to see you there!
Addictive. Real life connections with real people. Once you join Hello Talk, you can use text and voice to chat with English people from all over the world learning your language. It feels a lot like reconnecting or catching up with an old friend. You and your partner can talk for a few minutes or hours, depending on how much time you have.
Based on my own experience using this app, I’d suggest you find and follow just one or two people. I made the mistake of starting 7 or 8 connections at the same time and had trouble keeping up— given my limited knowledge of Spanish. When I eventually narrowed it down to two people, I was able to focus and take advantage of the technology.
This app is especially helpful if you're a little shy about making mistakes. The physical distance between you and your language partners takes a lot of the pressure off.
You may be surprised to see Google, or the all-knowing “Oracle”, as my boyfriend calls it, on the list. But I’m not kidding when I say that Google can help you in so many ways on your journey to English mastery.
Don’t know the word for something in English? Use Google translate. Or just type the word in the search bar in your language followed by “translate to English.” Or maybe you see a word but don’t know what it means. Try typing the word in the search bar and hitting “images” to see what comes up. This works especially well for learning the meanings of nouns. Don’t know what a socket is? After you’ve seen hundreds of pictures of different sockets, you’re unlikely to ever forget!
And these are just a couple of uses of Google. For more ideas and tips about using Google as an English study buddy, click the link and check out my blog post about it.
- Ralph Marston
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What’s your favorite English Youtube channel or Instagram profile? Are you part of an amazing Facebook group that others might enjoy and benefit from too? Post your ‘gems’ (treasures) in the comments section, or send me a quick email at firstname.lastname@example.org, with “My Favorite English Tool’ as the subject line. I’ll be sure to pass any ideas along. Thanks and keep rocking your English studies! You are a superstar!
Big thanks to Ciro R. for telling me about Hello Talk. I’m so happy to have a way to brush up on my Spanish!