Interesting English Learning Resources
Whether you’re right at the beginning of your journey to mastering English or you’re preparing for the Cambridge Advanced English exam, these resources will contain opportunities for you to practise and improve your English at your level.
Catching up on the news
If you have been learning English for a while, then you will probably be looking for a good challenge when it comes to the news. For you, sites such as the Guardian, BBC News and the Times will be the most useful for finding native-like linguistic challenges.
For learners whose language skills aren’t quite up to the challenge of native texts just yet, the online news service for learners News In Levels is perfect for you. The news articles are available in 3 levels, starting from beginners and growing in difficulty. The articles contain a list of difficult words for each level as well as hyperlinks to definitions.
While News In Levels does let you listen to the news articles being spoken out loud, they are unfortunately machine processed, so it doesn’t sound very natural. However, News In Easy English lets you listen to news articles read aloud by speakers both fast and slow, and there’s even an option to follow the text as you listen.
BBC Learning English
The BBC has produced its own Learning English website, which contains a wide variety of resources for English language learners, including online courses on:
- Grammar containing videos, explanations and quizzes
- News Review with keywords, news clip as well as review questions
- English In A Minute literally short 1 minute videos giving you a top tip about English
The ESL Lounge is a popular choice for English teachers when they need useful resources, good examples and clear explanations. But the ESL Lounge Student Page is an incredible resource as well!
The page is organized according to language area and skills:
- Phrasal Verbs
Each of these areas and skills is organized according to level, ranging from beginners through intermediate to advanced. Advanced learners often don’t need grammar explanations but do need plenty of practice, while pre-intermediate learners will benefit from good grammar explanations with clear examples.
The reading and listening exercises are particularly good, as they are concise but very effective, letting you fill in the gaps as you read and listen. What’s more, you can check all your answers online at the click of a button!
Best of all, if you’re preparing for an exam, such as the Cambridge Advanced, there are plenty of exam preparation exercises you can download or complete online.
Oxford Online English
While some of the resources and lessons in this site are behind a paywall, there is a large bank of free resources and lessons which you can use to your advantage.
English is notoriously difficult when it comes to pronunciation, including both the sounds of English as well as phonology i.e. how sounds are combined together. Oxford Online English has a whole page dedicated just to pronunciation. These lessons are videos which cover difficult topics in English pronunciation, such as weak forms of vowels and linking words together in natural speech.
However, it doesn’t stop at pronunciation. If you go to their YouTube channel you’ll find a whole host of video lessons covering a wide range of topics, one of our favourites is:
- The difference between must, have to and should
Cambridge Exam Preparation
If you are thinking about doing a Cambridge exam in English, whether it’s Flyers, First Certificate or Advanced, then you need to check out the Cambridge Assessment English site.
Apart from useful information, such as info packs for candidates, this site contains a bank of exemplary resources to help you prepare for your exam. This includes:
- Past papers
- Examiners reports and summaries
- Answer keys
- Exam day tips
Preparing for the exam itself is half the battle with Cambridge exams. For tips on what to do before the exam, the night before the exam, on exam day itself as well as tips on how to boost your memory, you should check out this resource page from the British Council.
One of the most popular language learning apps, Duolingo is famous for the quirky sentences it makes you read, say and complete. The idea is that the stranger the sentence is, the more chance you’ll have of committing the word or phrase to memory. New vocabulary is taught with flashcards, grammar is explained with little speech bubbles, you practise and repeat throughout the unit and then at the end of the level there’s a test. If you pass the test, then you can move on to the next level. There’s some gamification, as you’re encouraged to score points, maintain your daily language learning streak and compete against your friends.
Less of a language learning app and more of a memory aid, Memorize can be used to learn just about anything! However, it’s most popular with language learners, some of which have made some of the courses available for free in this app! There are also courses prepared by Memrise. Whatever course you go for, what they all have in common is the memorize method: you see a few words or phrases, you repeat them and reproduce them, and then you’re quizzed on them. There are several built in tools to help you know how many times you’ve come across a word and how often you need to see it to commit it to memory.
This app breaks learning a language down into bite sized chunks. In each unit you learn a small amount of vocabulary, apply it to a conversation, practise listening, reading and pronouncing the word, then you finish off by completing a small conversation, which is recorded and sent off for community feedback. The material has been professionally prepared by McGraw Hill Education, so you know you’re getting good quality stuff. The levels covered are from A1 to B2, so perfect for anyone who’s an absolutely beginner to an upper-intermediate learner and all in between.
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Founder of the UK Language Project and avid language learner.
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