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How to Learn English Online: Free & Cheap Options for Beginners

Get advice on how to learn English fast from the comfort of your home.

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By Scott Winstead

how to learn english online

English is most widely-used language across the world, spoken by around 1.5 billion people. Learning English can be incredibly important for business, traveling, or studying abroad, as it opens up opportunities for global communication, enhances career prospects, and broadens cultural understanding.

While some people are able to travel to an English-speaking country to gain fluency, others must find other ways to study the language. Even native English speakers can sometimes need help improving their skills in the language. The good news is there are now many ways to learn English online with online courses like those offered by British Council, offering a great option for those who want to learn at their own pace or don’t have the time or resources to attend a traditional classroom setting.

As a huge proponent of all things eLearning, I’ve put together this list of the best online resources for learning English for free or cheap.

Why Learn English?

English is the most commonly spoken language in the world, with around 1.5 billion people speaking it. But even if you’re not one of those 1.5 billion people, there are still good reasons to learn English.

For one thing, it’s the language of international business. As an instructional designer who’s worked with clients and colleagues from all over the world, I can can tell you that if you want to work in an international company or do business with people from other countries, you need to be able to communicate in English.

English is also the language of science and technology. A lot of the latest research and developments are published in English, so if you want to stay up-to-date, you need to be able to read and understand English.

Additionally, English is the language of popular culture. A lot of the latest movies, TV shows, and music are in English. If you want to be able to enjoy these things, you need to be able to understand English.

And finally, learning English can simply be an enjoyable and rewarding experience in itself. It’s a fascinating language with a rich history, and by learning it you can open yourself up to a whole new world of literature, cinema and culture.

You might have a different reason for learning English. Maybe you need it for work or school, or perhaps you want to be able to communicate with friends and family who speak English. Maybe you’re planning to travel to an English-speaking country, or you just want to learn more about the language and culture.

Whatever your reasons for learning English, there are lots of resources out there to help you. The key is finding the right resources to fit your needs.

Online Learning: The Easiest Way to Learn English Fast

There are many different ways to learn English, but the best way is to take advantage of online learning opportunities. Online learning comes with a number of advantages:

  • Learn at your preferred pace: An online course can be customized to fit your schedule and learning style. You can take as long as you need to complete the course, and you can revisit lessons as often as you want.
  • Learn from anywhere, any time: As long as you have an internet connection, you can access your course materials from anywhere in the world. Not only that, online courses are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This means you can study whenever it’s convenient for you. This is in contrast to traditional classroom-based courses, which typically have set times and days that you need to attend.
  • Choose the right course for you: With so many online courses to choose from, you can find a course that’s tailored to your specific needs and interests.

Best Overall: British Council

Online Self-Study Course - English Online (British Council) Online Self-Study Course - English Online (British Council)

Master English at your own pace with fun, engaging, and highly effective exercises and lessons.

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British Council offers an easy, convenient way for students to improve their English speaking skills and become fluent at their own pace.

It’s like having your own personal speech coach, because all of the exercises and lessons are put together by real experts.

With affordable, bite-sized lessons you can do on the go, it’s easy to keep learning and getting better by the day.

Created by experts in English language education, these exercises ensure that learners not only grasp vocabulary but also achieve real progress in practical, everyday use of English. They even have Business English courses for those who want to learn for professional purposes.

One of the cool things I like about the British Council’s program is the opportunity to earn certificates and badges, providing tangible evidence of your learning journey and achievements. This gamification feature, coupled with the chance to be part of a global community, helps enrich the learning experience and keep you motivated by connecting you with fellow learners and experts around the world.

For a small monthly fee, learners can choose from hundreds of exercises and participate in Live25 teacher-led grammar and pronunciation webinars, making it an excellent value for anyone looking to enhance their English proficiency.

Another great thing that sets this apart to me is that the British Council’s English Online Self-Study course offers more than just self-paced exercises. It includes optional live teacher-led webinars that allow direct interaction with English teachers, making it a dynamic and interactive learning environment.

Whether you’re starting from an elementary level or advancing to more complex language skills, their platform offers high-quality materials, expert guidance, and a supportive community to help you achieve your English learning goals.

You can click here to learn more.


Great Choice
Skillshare Skillshare

Skillshare is the ultimate website for learning just about anything imaginable. You can explore 30,000+ online classes across countless categories, from business to hobbies and more.

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If you’re looking for a great way to learn English, Skillshare is another platform I think is worth a look.

With over 34,000 courses available, you can find the perfect one to fit your needs and level of English proficiency. There are courses on everything from grammar and vocabulary to conversation and pronunciation, so you can tailor your learning to exactly what you need.

Skillshare is affordable and you can even check it out at no cost with a free trial to see if it’s right for you.

Whether you’re a complete beginner or a more advanced learner, Skillshare has courses to suit your needs. They also have a very user-friendly interface, which makes it easy to find and enroll in courses.

The only thing I’d point out is that Skillshare isn’t specifically a language-learning platform like British Council is. So that means while you can find a wide range of courses on topics from business to creative arts, the selection of language learning courses, especially for English, might not be as well crafted or comprehensive as those on British Council.

So if you’re looking for an affordable and convenient way to learn new skills, Skillshare is definitely worth checking out.

You can read our complete Skillshare review for our full thoughts on the app.

Click here to try Skillshare free for one month.

Coursera Plus

Coursera Plus Coursera Plus

Coursera Plus gives you unlimited access to over 7,000 courses from the world's top universities and organizations.

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Coursera Plus gives you unlimited access to over 7,000 high-quality classes on the platform. That means you can take as many courses as you want, whenever you want. And if you ever need a refresher on a particular topic, you can always go back and review the material at your own pace.

Coursera Plus courses offer a comprehensive curriculum that covers all the major aspects of the English language. From grammar and vocabulary to speaking and listening, you’ll be able to master the skills you need to communicate effectively in English.

And because all of the lessons are delivered online, you can study at your own pace and review material as often as you like.

One thing I really like is that Coursera’s classes all come from top online universities and companies across the world. You can even get certificates upon completion of your courses, so you can add them to your LinkedIn profile or resume.

Our Coursera Plus review has a lot more info about this popular online learning platform.

Click here to try Coursera Plus free for 7 days.

Final Thoughts

English is a notoriously difficult language to learn. However, with the right resources, it doesn’t have to be so daunting or expensive.

The internet has made it easier than ever to find high-quality, affordable courses that can help you improve your skills in English language. You can learn at your own pace and in your own time. And best of all, you can do it from the comfort of your own home.

So if you’re serious about mastering the language, be sure to check out our top recommendation British Council as it offers a comprehensive, convenient, and affordable way to learn English online.

Have any more questions about how to learn English? Leave a comment below so we can help you out.

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