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Learn English as a Second Language (ESL) with Hundreds of Courses & Sites

Check out our list of free and paid online courses and sites to help you learn and improve your English.


How to Learn English

Although Class Central lists online courses in 79 languages, courses made in English outnumber all of the others by more than four to one. English is therefore a useful language to know, even though some courses have subtitles in a range of languages.

Earlier this year, we updated our list of courses to help improve your writing skills. These courses all assume some fluency in the language.

But what if you do not know any English, or your English is very poor?

If you do not have convenient access to a teacher, the internet is a useful place to learn. Like many other skills, learning a language requires some memory techniques, plenty of practice, and learning from your mistakes.

It also helps if a friend or family member learns and practices with you. On the other hand, with available apps and online tools, you no longer need to have a learning companion.

If you are not a native English speaker, read on to find various online learning resources. Also, over 400 free and paid online courses to help you improve your English are listed below, arranged into Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced categories.

Some of these courses are also listed in the Improve Your Writing Skills article mentioned above. If you start a free course and find it is either too hard or too easy for you, it is easy to drop it and try another.


Click to jump to the corresponding section and resources.

More Courses

If you don’t find what you need in the lists below, Class Central’s got you covered. Browse our catalog of 100K courses or visit these collections:

Why Learn English?

Here are just a few of the many reasons for learning English:

  • English is becoming the most common communication language worldwide (a world language or Lingua franca). According to Ethnologue (2022, 25th edition), 1.456 billion people speak English. Estimated numbers of English speakers vary from site to site on the internet.
  • If it is not your native language, learning English can help you communicate with others who have also learnt the language, for example, a Spanish speaker talking with a Chinese speaker in English.
  • You will have a more enjoyable traveling experience if you can communicate with the local people as you travel. Many tourist destinations have English-speaking guides and hospitality staff.
  • Enhanced opportunities to study in different countries.
  • Enhanced employment prospects worldwide.
  • More social opportunities.
  • More online resources become available to you.
  • Understand English-speaking countries’ cultures better and acquire a deeper understanding of your own culture.
  • Research shows that using the brain to recall and practice with different words and sentence structures can boost your brain health and may even delay the onset of dementia.
  • Improve your communication skills: listening, reading, writing and speaking.

English Tests

People wanting to work or study in an English-speaking country often need to prove their English proficiency by taking a test. According to Voice of America’s Learning English, there are three common tests for English proficiency. They are the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), the Test of English for International Communication (TOEIC) and the International English Language Testing System (IELTS).

Various Free Language Sites

Duolingo: Duolingo claims to be the world’s most popular language learning site with more than 500 million users. Learn a language in a game format. Enjoy free access, including mobile apps, or you can pay a subscription to remove ads and access other features.

Forvo: Forvo is a pronunciation dictionary, with millions of words recorded and shared to the site by thousands of native language speakers of more than 370 languages. Free access, donations welcome. You can join for free and add your own pronunciations of words in your native language to help others learn. Forvo has more than 425,000 English speakers who have pronounced over 300,000 words.

Forvo site in German

The Mimic Method: Idahosa Ness uses listening and mimicking to learn new languages. He explains that different languages use different sounds. Some sounds are common to various languages, others are unique to specific languages. A big part of learning how to communicate is to listen to those sounds so you can discern them and learn to pronounce them yourself, progressing to reading and writing the language later.

The Mimic Method site

The Learn English Network is based in the UK. Free with ads, with donations accepted to this non-profit organization. Offers grammar and vocabulary sections, plus magazine, diary, games, and tests.

The Learn English site

Free content may be fine for your needs, but to really get your teeth into a language, you may need to pay for lessons. Thanks to the internet, there are plenty of options.

Babbel: Founded in 2007, Babbel is a pioneer in online language learning, with more than 100,000 hours of content in 14 languages, including lessons, games, podcasts, and live classes. You can try the first lesson, then it’s subscription-based.

Babbel site in Spanish

Rosetta Stone: With millions of users worldwide, Rosetta Stone’s app uses a speech recognition tool to give instant feedback on your pronunciation via your own device. It uses native speakers, downloadable audio lessons, and phrasebooks of common phrases. Payment is subscription-based, ranging from three months to lifetime access.

Rosetta Stone site

Yabla: The language immersion style videos have optional dual-language interactive subtitles. Learn on the go with the mobile app. Free trial available. Yabla can also be used in schools and universities.

Yabla site in French

FluentU: Taught by real-world videos with interactive subtitles. Try free for 14 days before your first subscription payment. FluentU also offers unlimited quizzes, flash cards, and spaced repetition reviews. Take a look at 10 Catchy English Learning Games to Improve Your Fluency the Fun Way.

FluentU site

Italki: Join 5 million learners in 150+ languages. Test your proficiency level and choose from more than 7000 English teachers, select a lesson date and time, then connect for your personal lesson using Skype or other video chat software. Students purchase italki Credits which are stored in their Student Wallet. Credits are deducted from the Student Wallet when a lesson is requested. The italki Credits are transferred to the teacher’s Teacher Wallet after the lesson is completed. Or use italki’s learning tools to learn without a teacher.

italki site

Oxford Online English: A range of options and prices, from free pre-recorded lessons to 1-to-1 learning in a range of topics from speaking, writing, IELTS exam preparation, business English, and more.

Oxford Online English site

Preply: Use the filters and read profiles to choose your personal tutor at a time and price suitable for you. Book a free trial lesson on Preply’s video platform, then you can buy a set of tutoring hours. Get a discount for buying more hours at once. Or join a small group class in a range of topics.

Preply site

British Council: As well as offering online courses via FutureLearn, the British Council offers self-study courses, online classes and private tutoring.

British Council site


Type “learn English” into YouTube’s search box and you will have access to a seemingly never-ending list of videos. Some teach general language learning skills relevant to learning a range of languages, not just English.

Websites and Mobile Apps for Chinese Students

Kaomanfen: An English education website from TAL group. It covers test preparation materials for TOEFL, IELTS, GRE and GMAT, mainly for Chinese students. Free or paid online courses and free test simulations for each test such as 50+ official TOEFL Practice Online are also provided by the platform. 7 mobile apps have been launched: KMF TOEFL, KMF GRE, KMF IELTS, KMF GMAT, KMF Vocabulary, GRE Vocabulary, KMF Courses.

Open Language: An English learning mobile application launched by the host of a popular podcast. It provides multiple English learning services including online courses, vocabulary learning, Open Language FM, online chatting, etc. The company was acquired by Bytedance in March 2018.

Yidian English: A mobile application that helps users practice English speaking with short videos cut out from TV series, movies, speeches, music videos, etc. You can learn new words, practice listening and speaking along with the app.

HelloTalk: A community of language learning through online chatting with people from different countries. You can find partners and exchange languages with them through the mobile app. You can also practice vocabulary, listening, speaking inside the app.

Baicizhan: A mobile application for English vocabulary learning by matching a word with the right picture. It covers different levels of English vocabulary resources from elementary school to college. You can also practice vocabulary by playing a series of mobile games like joining an online word match competition.

MOMO Vocabulary: A mobile application for English vocabulary learning with different kinds of learning statistics. Multiple English vocabulary resources from primary school to workplace are available.

Liulishuo: A mobile application for practicing English speaking by shadowing English conversations. You can get immediate feedback from the system after repeating each sentence by marking your weakness in word pronunciation. It also offers free and paid learning services like online courses, one-on-one real-person training and dubbing for videos.

Qupeiyin: A mobile application for learning English speaking through movie dubbing. You can receive timely feedback and guidance from the system about your speaking.

Shanbei: A series of mobile applications in English learning including Shanbei Vocabulary, Shanbei Listening, Shanbei Reading, and Shanbei Speaking.

Practice, Practice, Practice

Listen to podcasts, radio, movies and television shows in English, particularly any you are already familiar with. If subtitles are available, turn them on in English, not your own language. Reading the English as you hear it will help you learn more quickly.

Keep a daily journal in English. Even 5 or 10 minutes will help. Don’t be overly concerned with accuracy as you write. Write about your activities, feelings, hopes for the future, your memories, or any other topic.

Try to think in English rather than constantly translating from your own language.

Start Learning Today

Thanks to the internet, it is now more convenient than ever before to learn a foreign language. Frequent practice helps you improve more quickly.

130+ Beginner English as a Second Language (ESL) Courses

Basic English 1: Elementary
King’s College London via FutureLearn
Learn basic English for everyday situations and improve your listening skills with this online course.
★★★★☆ (9 ratings)

English Pronunciation in a Global World
University of Amsterdam via FutureLearn
In this course you will improve your English pronunciation skills and learn about speaking English in today’s globalised world.

Basic English 2: Pre-Intermediate
King’s College London via FutureLearn
Develop your English for use in different everyday situations and build more confidence in your listening skills.
★★★★★ (7 ratings)

O Curso Completo de Inglês – Introdução
via Udemy
A maneira mais rápida e fácil de aprender inglês e começar a alcançar seus objetivos

NLP ile Hızlı ve Kolayca İngilizce Konuşmayı Öğren
via Udemy
Hızlı ve Kolay İngilizce Konuşmayı Öğren

Free Elementary level (A1.1) English language course
via Udemy
Learn Elementary English grammar with Michael and One World!
★★★★★ (1 rating)

Inglés básico: conversacional y networking
Universidad Anáhuac via edX
Cumple tu meta de aprender inglés básico para utilizarlo de forma estratégica en los negocios e incrementar tu éxito profesional.
★★★★★ (51 ratings)

Consonants of American English Pronunciation
University of California, Irvine via Coursera
In this first course of The Pronunciation of American English specialization, you will learn and practice all of the consonant sounds of American English, including some pairs of consonants that are especially tricky.

Vowels of American English Pronunciation
University of California, Irvine via Coursera
In this course, you will learn and practice all of the vowel sounds of American English, including pairs of vowels that may be easy to confuse. Each week you will receive practical advice from successful English learners and practice an effective technique called shadowing to improve your pronunciation of vowel sounds.

The Music of American English Pronunciation
University of California, Irvine via Coursera
In this third course of The Pronunciation of American English specialization, you will learn and practice the “music” of American English, the features of pronunciation such as stress, rhythm, and intonation that will help improve your listening comprehension as well as your ability to communicate more clearly.

250+ Intermediate ESL Courses

English for Career Development
University of Pennsylvania via Coursera
This course is designed for non-native English speakers who are interested in advancing their careers in the global marketplace. You will learn about the job search, application, and interview process in the United States, while comparing and contrasting the same process in your home country.
★★★★★ (24 ratings)

Speak English Professionally: In Person, Online & On the Phone
Georgia Institute of Technology via Coursera
Do you want to speak better English? This course will help you reach that goal.
★★★★★ (5 ratings)

Inglés Empresarial: Proyecto Final
Arizona State University via Coursera
In this capstone project, you will create a plan of action to launch a new product.

Upper-Intermediate English: Business and Industry
Universitat Politècnica de València via edX
Take your English language skills to the next level. Learn how to write letters, use appropriate verbal tenses and enhance your vocabulary and grammar, all within the context of business.
★★★★★ (61 ratings)

English in Early Childhood: Language Learning and Development
British Council via FutureLearn
Discover how very young children learn English as an additional language and how you can help them progress.
★★★★★ (1388 ratings)

Upper-Intermediate English: Business and Technology
Universitat Politècnica de València via edX
Take your English language skills to the next level.We will discuss technological innovations as you enhance your English vocabulary and grammar and learn how to write a business plan.
★★★★★ (38 ratings)

English for Effective Business Writing
The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology via Coursera
This course aims to improve your Business English writing skills by developing your use of vocabulary, grammar, understanding of different business writing genres, and your ability to write professional business documents.
★★★★☆ (1 rating)

Business English for Cross-cultural Communication
The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology via Coursera
After completing this course, you will be able to: – identify possible cross-cultural issues and misunderstandings in communication – apply strategies to overcome possible cross-cultural issues – produce documents with an appropriate style for business communication – deliver a speech with an appropriate style for business communication

Exploring English: Language and Culture
British Council via FutureLearn
This course for learners of English looks at British culture and examines English in use to help you improve your language skills.
★★★★★ (843 ratings)

Using Email for Networking in English
University of Washington via edX
Improve your writing skills. Write effective emails including great subject lines, greetings, and closings. You’ll be more confident as you communicate for business, send messages, expand your network, and search for jobs in English.
★★★★★ (1 rating)

80 Advanced ESL Courses

English for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics
University of Pennsylvania via Coursera
This course is designed for non-native English speakers who are interested in improving their English skills in the sciences.
★★★★★ (12 ratings)

English for Business and Entrepreneurship
University of Pennsylvania via Coursera
This course is designed for non-native English speakers who are interested in learning more about the global business economy.
★★★★★ (7 ratings)

Writing your World: Finding yourself in the academic space
University of Cape Town via Coursera
In this course, we provide practical insights into how to write an academic essay. We show you how to develop the academic skills needed to be a competent academic writer.
★★★★★ (5 ratings)

Business English: Meetings
University of Washington via Coursera
This course will teach you vocabulary and skills related to participating in meetings.
★★★★★ (2 ratings)

Upper-Intermediate English: Business and Globalization
Universitat Politècnica de València via edX
Learn how to write letters, use appropriate verbal tenses and enhance your English vocabulary and grammar, all within the context of globalization.
★★★★☆ (31 ratings)

English for Journalism
University of Pennsylvania via Coursera
This course is designed for non-native English speakers who are interested in developing the skills needed for a career in modern journalism.
★★★★☆ (15 ratings)

Business English: Basics
The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology via Coursera
This course aims to improve your Business English language skills by developing your vocabulary and reading skills and your understanding of tone, style and knowledge of communication methods.

Business English: Marketing and Sales
Arizona State University via Coursera
In this course, you will learn to use English more efficiently while joining successful global professionals around the world.

Business English: Management and Leadership
Arizona State University via Coursera
In this course, you will follow along a recently promoted manager as she builds and leads her team to success.

Business English: Finance and Economics
Arizona State University via Coursera
After taking this course, you will be able to read and create efficient e-mails, reports, and impactful presentations with words and phrases commonly used in finance and economics.

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Pat Bowden

Online learning specialist, still learning after 150+ MOOCs completed since 2012. Class Central customer support and help since 2018. I am keen to help others make the most of online learning, so I set up a website:  www.onlinelearningsuccess.org

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