The Best Online Tools for Learning English

Samantha Ruff
December 22, 2019 ·
7 min read
Product

The process of learning a language can take many forms: traditional teaching, online courses, and full-scale immersion are all examples. But you also need useful tools which can add to your learning. We live now, in many respects, in a mostly digital world where useful apps can add to the value we take from things, and this is certainly true in the process of learning English.

Because English can be a little frustrating (you may have noticed that!). So why not take all the help you can get? And a language is never solely learned in a classroom, or at home. Language is picked up in the world at large, in the process of living life. For that, you need on-the-go solutions.

Fortunately, there are some wonderful digital tools available on your desktop and mobile devices (many for free) which can help you in your English-learning journey. Here are some great examples:

FluentU

Immersive learning is not a new concept, but it used to mean dropping someone into the heart of where the language was spoken, and taking it from there. That’s not an option for everyone, clearly.

But immersive learning is exactly what FluentU delivers, albeit through an app which can be downloaded to your mobile device. On that app are literally thousands and thousands of examples of songs, talks, trailers, reviews and more, all with accompanying videos, that bring the language to life for you. Get definitions of keywords included in these videos, along with more examples of how the word is used and native pronunciation. It tailors content based on your previous searches, and guarantees fun along the way because the learning process is connected to the things you seek out.

Linguix

When reading and writing in English, it’s natural to seek help, and now, thanks to tools such as Linguix, you can get the help you need when you need it. The AI-powered writing assistance scans your writing to detect stylistic, grammatical and spelling errors, and offers up alternative suggestions, definitions and synonyms from which you can select to help make your writing error-free and more readable. It’s also free, and has a Chrome extension version.

Forvo

One of the most difficult aspects of English is, without doubt, the pronunciation. Forvo is an app which is simple at heart, but perfect for helping to improve your pronunciation of tricky words. Start by listening to the native pronunciation of the word, then get the opportunity to record your own pronunciation of it. Compare until you have the pronunciation right, and then listen again and again to your heart’s content until you have it perfected. It’s incredibly practical, and incredibly relevant to the reality of English learning.

LearnEnglish Sounds Right

Perhaps before you delve into Forvo, you might want to have a go at this app provided by the British Council which allows you to practice the phonetics, or sounds that are used in the English language. Not all the sounds are the same between languages, so it helps to practise all the sounds that English contains by first getting an example of the sound, and then hearing how it is applied in real words. Once you have perfected the sounds, you can move onto the words, always keeping in mind those sounds that are more difficult for you.

LingQ

It’s all about the content with LingQ, meaning a huge selection of enjoyable (and subtitled) interviews, audio content, podcasts, articles and plenty more besides.

Choose the content you are interested in, listen or read, and learn from it with the option to check out the meaning of new words, practise the pronunciation and even add them to your own private list of words to learn. From there you can set up your own objectives, and LingQ tracks your progress against these targets.

In addition, you can get in contact with native speakers through the app to converse and learn, and there are even games offered to add to the enjoyment. And one of the best parts is that LingQ works offline too, so you can learn anytime, anywhere.

Lyricstraining

Do you love music? Then you’ll love this service, which is compatible to desktop or mobile device, and allows you to watch music videos and complete the missing lyrics, karaoke style. You can select from beginner, intermediate, advanced or expert levels, which hide a bigger percentage of the lyrics each time, and then watch the video and listen to the words, being required to type in the missing lyric each time before you can continue the video. You get a score, and so you can compete against friends or even yourself. Enjoy the music, learn more vocabulary and improve your listening and pronunciation skills all in one go.

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