Although Class Central lists online courses (MOOCs) in 24 languages, the number of courses made in English outnumber all of the others by nearly 3 to 1. English is therefore a useful language to know, even though some MOOCs have subtitles in a range of languages.
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. Around 100 free online courses to help you improve your English are also listed below, arranged into Basic, Intermediate and Advanced categories. Some of these courses are also listed in the Improve Your Writing Skills article mentioned above. None are absolute beginner MOOCs.
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 FluentU, 1.75 billion people speak English and it is the fastest growing language in human history. 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 travelling 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.
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).
The TOEIC tests English proficiency particularly in the workplace. Organizations may use TOEIC results to place learners in the correct language study level.
The IELTS uses a nine-band scale to identify levels of English proficiency, from non-user (band 1) through to expert (band 9). Sometimes you will see a recommended IELTS proficiency level for a course. One example is A Beginner’s Guide to Writing in English for University Study which recommends students have an IELTS score of 4.5 or higher.
Various Language Sites
Duolingo: Duolingo claims to be the world’s most popular language learning site with more than 200 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 downloadable lessons.
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. You can access some basic information for free, or sign up and pay for a self-paced in-depth course.
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 300,000 English speakers who have pronounced over 170,000 words.
Some Paid Options
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.
Rosetta Stone: Another site that emphasises speaking, Rosetta Stone also offers a mobile app. Rosetta Stone uses a speech recognition tool to give instant feedback on your pronunciation via your own device. It also has online native tutors, downloadable audio lessons, and phrasebooks of common phrases. Payment is subscription-based, with access periods ranging from three months to two years.
Yabla: The language immersion style interactive videos have dual-language subtitles. There are also games to promote learning and test your knowledge. Try out a few sample videos and games before subscribing. Yabla can also be used in schools and universities.
Italki: Choose a teacher, 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.
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.
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.
Courses listed on Class Central are not for absolute beginners. Basic English Courses may be suitable for people with limited English.
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.★★★★☆ (1 rating)
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.
Intermediate English as a Second Language (ESL) MOOCs
Intermediate English as a Second Language (ESL) courses may be useful for those who know some English.
Upper-Intermediate English: Technology Today 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.
★★★★★ (13 ratings)
Upper-Intermediate English: Business 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.
★★★★★ (12 ratings)
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.
★★★★★ (5 ratings)
生活英语听说 | Conversational English Skills Tsinghua University via edX
Learn how to effectively communicate in English and improve your conversational language skills. 你想与native speaker无障碍交流吗？让中外老师和50多位美国、英国、爱尔兰、加拿大、澳大利亚、哥伦比亚的朋友，带你领略一次不一样的英语学习之旅吧。
★★★★☆ (12 ratings)
IELTS Academic Test Preparation University of Queensland via edX
Prepare for the IELTS Academic tests in this comprehensive, self-paced course covering listening, speaking, reading and writing.
★★★★★ (4 ratings)
English Grammar and Style University of Queensland via edX
Learn key concepts and strategies in grammar and style to help enhance your writing and confidently respond to the demand of high levels of literacy in the 21st century.
★★★★☆ (28 ratings)
Inglés profesional – Professional English via Miríadax
El curso Inglés Profesional / Professional English obedece a una demanda formativa sin precedentes del inglés real que se usa en situaciones comunicativas del entorno laboral y social en el mundo moderno actual.
★★★☆☆ (1 rating)
Tricky English Grammar University of California, Irvine via Coursera
While it’s easy for non-native speakers to get overwhelmed by confusing grammar rules, in this course, we’ll provide you with tips that will help you understand the rules more easily and give you lots of practice with the tricky grammar of everyday English.
★★☆☆☆ (2 ratings)
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
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.
Preparing to Network in English University of Washington via edX
Learn the basics of networking while you grow your social network and professional connections. Practice speaking to improve your English language skills for increased success in job hunting.
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.
Introduction to Multilingual and Multicultural Education Higher School of Economics via Coursera
By the end of this course, you will be able to: – critically evaluate various teaching practices – critically evaluate various language policies and planning programmes – obtain valuable insights to better understand the learning needs of students – apply the knowledge you will have gained in this course, in multilingual/multicultural classrooms
English for Doing Business in Asia – Writing The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology via edX
Introducing strategies for developing your written English communication skills in the context of doing business in Asia.
Upper-Intermediate English: Modern Life Universitat Politècnica de València via edX
Advance your English language skills as you learn how to rephrase sentences and prepare for an interview. Topics such as films, sports, and natural resources will also be discussed.
Business Case Analysis The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology via Coursera
The Capstone project is the culmination of your journey through the Business English for Non-Native Speakers specialization.
Better Spoken English Indian Institute of Technology Madras via NPTEL
1. To create comprehensible pronunciation of English 2. To create public speaking & presentation skills
English language for Competitive exams Indian Institute of Technology Madras via NPTEL
The course aims to help participants develop their English language skills, particularly those planning to appear for competitive exams that test their English language abilities.
Business English Communication Indian Institute of Technology Madras via NPTEL
The course Business English provides methods for developing English language and communication skills for today’s workplace. It is divided into four modules: Reading, Writing, Vocabulary and Grammar.
Basic English terminology for building and civil engineering construction Universidad Politécnica de Madrid via Miríadax
This course provides students with an interactive learning experience that combines the meaning and pronunciation of basic building and civil engineering construction terms with the comprehension of simple texts containing scientific and technical matter related to those fields.
L’anglais pour tous – Spice up Your English Université libre de Bruxelles via France Université Numerique
A l’heure actuelle, pour évoluer professionnellement, voyager ou s’instruire, avoir une bonne connaissance de l’anglais est un atout non négligeable.
Conduite de réunion en anglais Université de Lorraine via France Université Numerique
Problèmes de compréhension, appréhension devant la prise de parole, difficultés à contrôler le déroulement de la réunion… diriger ou simplement intervenir dans une réunion n’est pas chose facile, et elle l’est encore moins dans une langue étrangère. La conduite d’une réunion en anglais nécessite l’apprentissage et la maîtrise d’un certain nombre d’outils linguistiques spécifiques. Ce MOOC vous aidera, nous l’espérons, à acquérir ces outils afin de vous mettre en confiance pour aborder en toute sérénité une réunion en anglais.
English for the Workplace British Council via FutureLearn
This course for learners of English helps you with the language you need to find a job and successfully function in the workplace.
Writing in the Sciences Stanford University via Stanford OpenEdx
This course teaches scientists to become more effective writers, using practical examples and exercises.
★★★★☆ (17 ratings)
Business English: Planning & Negotiating University of Washington via Coursera
In this course, the context is hosting an event and finding an appropriate venue for it. You will learn language and strategies for successful negotiations culminating in a written announcement for an event.
★★★★★ (2 ratings)
Business Writing University of Colorado Boulder via Coursera
This course will teach you how to apply the top ten principles of good business writing to your work, how to deploy simple tools to dramatically improve your writing, and how to execute organization, structure, and revision to communicate more masterfully than ever.
★★★★★ (3 ratings)
Perfect Tenses and Modals University of California, Irvine via Coursera
In this course, you will learn about important intermediate verb tenses, including present perfect, present perfect progressive, past perfect, and past perfect progressive. You will also learn about common modal verbs used in English.
★★★★★ (3 ratings)
Grammar and Punctuation University of California, Irvine via Coursera
After completing this course, you will be able to: – identify the correct verb tenses to use – use commas effectively – utilize several different sentence types – write more effectively in English
★★★★☆ (27 ratings)
Getting Started with Essay Writing University of California, Irvine via Coursera
By introducing you to three types of academic essays, this course will especially help prepare you for work in college classes, but anyone who wants to improve his or her writing skills can benefit from this course.
★★★★☆ (12 ratings)
Academic and Business Writing University of California, Berkeley via edX
An introduction to academic and business writing for English Language Learners, focusing on grammar, vocabulary, structure, editing, and publication.
★★★★☆ (7 ratings)
English for Media Literacy University of Pennsylvania via Coursera
This course is designed for non-native English speakers who are interested in learning more about U.S. media literacy.
★★★★★ (1 rating)
English Composition Arizona State University via edX
Improve your writing skills in this comprehensive introduction to English composition credit-eligible course.
★★★★★ (3 ratings)
Advanced Writing University of California, Irvine via Coursera
After completing this course, you will be able to plan and write a more sophisticated argument essay.
★★★★☆ (5 ratings)
How to Write an Essay University of California, Berkeley via edX
An introduction to academic writing for English Language Learners, focusing on essay development, grammatical correctness, and self-editing.
★★★★☆ (26 ratings)
Upper-Intermediate English: 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.
★★★★☆ (7 ratings)
Applying to U.S. Universities University of Pennsylvania via Coursera
This course will help international students (non-U.S. citizens) and non-native English speakers navigate the U.S. university admission process by offering practical information about the documents and pieces that make up a U.S. university application.
★★★★☆ (10 ratings)
Translation in Practice Nanjing University via Coursera
This course offers you basic but valuable techniques used by a good translator in the translation between English and Chinese.
★★★☆☆ (1 rating)
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.
★★★★☆ (6 ratings)
Academic Literacy Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology via Coursera
You will learn practical tools and effective strategies for increasing your academic vocabulary and grammar so that you will write well-structured coherent academic texts.
★★★☆☆ (2 ratings)
Adjectives and Adjective Clauses University of California, Irvine via Coursera
Adjectives and adjective clauses are very common in English, so students need to be able to understand them when they see them or hear them.
★★★☆☆ (4 ratings)
Better Business Writing in English Georgia Institute of Technology via Coursera
Do you need to write more easily and effectively in English? This course will provide the tools to help you do just that.
English for Effective Business Speaking The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology via Coursera
This course aims to improve your Business English speaking skills by developing your use of vocabulary, grammar, pronunciation, spoken communication skills within a Business context, and your ability to deliver professional business speeches for specific purposes.
Academic Listening and Note-Taking University of California, Irvine via Coursera
This course will help non-native English speakers improve their listening and note-taking skills for the purpose of listening to academic lectures.
Scholarly Communication Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology via Coursera
Scholarly Communication is a concise but comprehensive course on how to write research papers in English.
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.
Academic Discussions in English University of California, Irvine via Coursera
In this class you will learn about different types of conversations you will have in academic settings.
Verb Tenses and Passives University of California, Irvine via Coursera
In this course, you will review the verb tenses that you learned in beginning English classes and learn about a few tenses you may not know very well.
Business English: Final Project Arizona State University via Coursera
This project will give you the opportunity to apply your English skills learned in the courses to develop a useful document for your current job or a document that you could use as an example to demonstrate your new abilities and skills.
Noun Clauses and Conditionals University of California, Irvine via Coursera
In this class, you will learn about the advanced grammar concepts of noun clauses and conditionals.
Academic Writing Made Easy Technische Universität München (Technical University of Munich) via edX
Struggling with writing an academic text? This MOOC will ease the pain – and make your writing shine.
Writing in English at University Lund University via Coursera
This course aims to give you an understanding of the conventions of academic writing in English and to teach you the components and benefits of what is called process writing.
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: 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.
Writing Skills for Engineering Leaders Rice University via Coursera
In this course, you’ll learn essential writing skills that you can apply in your daily activities on the job as an engineering leader.
Business English: Capstone Project University of Washington via Coursera
For the project, you’ll use formal, written methods and more casual visual and audio methods of communication to demonstrate your ability to use language appropriate for different business contexts.
English for Academic Study Coventry University via FutureLearn
Prepare to study at university, explore the qualities of a successful student, and learn key vocabulary in an academic context.
Intermediate Grammar Project University of California, Irvine via Coursera
You will create a grammar scrapbook of the difficult or interesting English grammatical structures that you studied in the specialization.
Advanced Grammar & Punctuation Project University of California, Irvine via Coursera
In this course, you will create a grammar portfolio of the difficult or interesting English grammatical structures that you studied in the previous courses.
English Composition: Research and Writing Arizona State University via edX
Learn how to design, develop, research, and execute a writing project from inception to completion in this credit-eligible course.
Online learning specialist, still learning after 100+ 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