English online resources

Learner tip – Using online English resources

There are thousands of useful resources on the internet which could help you learn English. Sometimes that can feel a bit overwhelming though so I have chosen some useful sites and ideas for you and put them on this handy list for you! Try these online activities whenever you have some free time 🙂

If you like some visual support with your listening practice, then TED-Ed is a fantastic site to use. You can choose a video based on the topic, your level or the duration. The videos are all fascinating so it’s a great way to learn English while educating yourself! (If you are a teacher, you can create lessons using the videos.)

These days, everybody is talking about their favourite podcasts! Choose one that sounds good to you and you can listen to it anywhere – on the drive to work, whilst you’re doing the cleaning, in the supermarket, etc – to get some daily English practice. The BBC site has some great podcasts if you don’t know where to start and, if you have an iphone, you could try these iTunes podcasts but otherwise there are thousands available on all your favourite topics – just google away! 🙂
* please note, you may not be able to access the BBC link if you are outside the UK

The next time you need to find out how to fix or change something on your car or in your house, try watching the instructions in English. This particular video is about changing a tyre. It’s really clear with lots of great vocabulary! What a great way to learn real English!

One way to get some great listening practice is to listen to audio books. This site has hundreds of books, read by volunteers and all absolutely free. Search by title, author or subject to find a book that suits you.

Wouldn’t it be great to know all the correct vocabulary the next time you’re discussing a sport you love, or one you want to learn?
You can find lots of tutorials online that will help you do exactly that! Just pick a video with your chosen sport. You can turn on the subtitles too if you want. They are all packed with useful vocabulary. My example is how to play tennis The coach is Australian so it’s another great accent for you to test your listening skills 🙂

News articles can be a great way to explore formal and informal language whilst simultaneously finding out what’s happening around the world! You can choose articles from tabloids or broadsheets here. Try not to worry if you don’t understand every word in an article – Just following the main idea is enough to begin with.

If you are trying to find ways to practise your listening that keep you entertained, try comedy shows. I’ve recommended Michael Mcintyre because his stand up shows are based on experiences that most people can relate to, he keeps his language pretty clean and he is hilarious (well in my opinion!) Michael Mcintyre Show
They say when you can understand humour, you have really mastered a language so give this challenge a go!

One of my favourite programmes is The Graham Norton Show. He interviews celebrities, which is not only entertaining but a great way to challenge your listening skills! This link Graham Norton Clips provides you with lots of short clips from his show which you can re-watch until you can follow your favourite celebrity anecdotes and laugh along with the audience.
* please note, you may not be able to access this link if you are outside the UK

These are real speeches and they are fascinating! Pick a topic you are interested in. Most talks come with an interactive transcript or subtitles. TedTalks-Authentic listening Click ‘duration’ to choose a short talk to begin with. This will probably be too challenging for low level English learners but if your English is quite good and you want to push yourself, give it a go! If you find a talk you love, please let me know 🙂

Read these ten Vocabulary tips from Svetlana Kandybovich if you want some great, practical ideas for remembering new English vocabulary. If you want to test your vocabulary for different topics, try these exercises – Simple vocabulary building exercises  Match the word to the picture and then check your score. As an extra challenge, cover the words and see if you can remember them by only looking at the pictures 🙂

If you can learn the sounds from the phonemic chart, you can really improve your pronunciation. Every time you look up a word in a dictionary, you can see the phonetic spelling and you’ll know exactly how to say that word like a native speaker! The phonemic chart – This video is a simple starting point. Find Adrian Underhill’s videos on youtube for a more detailed look at sounds and pronunciation.

The owl library – free ebooks
 Browse this library of free ebooks. They are aimed at children but are perfect for English learners! Non fiction reading texts Find some non-fiction texts here to practise reading around interesting topics. Graded reading practice Try reading these short stories and answering the comprehension questions. There are stories on different topics and for different levels.

Watching TV is a great way to improve your English without too much effort. Here’s an example – Short clip from ‘Friends’ Watch this short clip from Friends (try without the subtitles to begin with) and see if you can follow the story. You can turn on the subtitles for your second viewing to check any bits you didn’t catch.

As the author of this article says, Leo Messi became a wonderful football player because he spent hours every day for many years practising by himself – You can do the same with your English. Read these 33 speaking tips for some fantastic ideas on how to improve your speaking without relying on anybody else.

If you like cooking, this is a great way to improve your English. Jamie Oliver cooking chicken pie This clip is the very British Jamie Oliver cooking a very British favourite – chicken pie, delicious! You can turn on the subtitles if you find his accent hard to understand. He likes to use his own vocabulary 🙂 Enjoy the English challenge and learn how to cook British meals at the same time! If you find Jamie too challenging, you might like Mary Berry Mary Berry delicious cupcakes She speaks much more slowly with more traditional English.

If you are interested in make up, this is a great way to learn all the vocabulary. Lauren Luke make up tutorial  – I’ve recommended Lauren Luke because she’s very natural, talks directly to the camera and has a nice challenging Newcastle accent 🙂 but you can find lots of other make up tutorials on YouTube. Experiment with make up and improve your English at the same time!

This is such a great way to improve your listening. They focus on news, current affairs and interviews with interesting people. BBC Radio 4 Scroll through the homepage to find hundreds of clips (long and short) and you’re bound to find something you like the sound of!
* please note, you may not be able to access this link if you are outside the UK

Have any of these suggestions helped you? I’d love your feedback on which ones worked. Share your thoughts below when you have a spare moment 🙂

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Nicki is a Cambridge qualified, experienced English teacher for foreign learners. She loves helping English learners to learn real English and communicate with confidence!

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