11 Free Websites to Practice English at Home

  • by Hilary Schenker

    RTlibrary on FlickrRTlibrary on FlickrAt the New York Public Library's Adult Learning Centers, where adults work on basic English and literacy skills, we're often asked for recommendations of websites for adults to practice English at home. Below you'll find eleven sites, some with a focus on listening, some on vocabulary, others on grammar, and some with a range of activities. Happy learning!

    Easy World of English
    easyworldofenglish.com
    An attractive, user-friendly website including grammar, pronunciation, reading and listening practice and an interactive picture dictionary.

    Many Things
    manythings.org
    This website includes matching quizzes, word games, word puzzles, proverbs, slang expressions, anagrams, a random-sentence generator and other computer-assisted language learning activities. The site also includes a special page on pronunciation, including practice with minimal pairs. Not the fanciest or most beautiful website, but with lots to see and use and no advertising.

    Dave's ESL Cafe
    eslcafe.com
    A forum for both ESL teachers and students around the world. Includes quizzes, grammar explanations, and discussion forums for students. For teachers, includes classroom ideas on all subjects as well as discussion forums.

    The California Distance Learning Project
    cdlponline.org
    Read and listen to a news stories on topics including working, housing, money and health, then work on activities based on the stories including matching pairs, vocabulary, and quiz questions. Some stories also include videos.

    BBC Learning English
    bbc.co.uk/worldservice/learningenglish
    An array of wonderful activities for practice, some relating to current events. Includes videos, quizzes, vocabulary practice, idioms, crosswords, and much more, though all with British accents.

    Activities for ESL Students
    a4esl.org
    Grammar and vocabulary practice for all levels, including many bilingual quizzes for beginners. Also includes a link for teachers, with conversation questions, games, and many other ideas to put to use in the classroom.

    ABCYa
    abcya.com
    This is a website for kids, but who says adults can't use it, too? The site includes educational games organized by grade level, from 1st to 5th, and is particularly good for spelling and phonics. There are games to practice vowels, uppercase and lowercase letters, Dolch sight words, synonyms and antonyms and more.

    TV 411
    tv411.org
    This site includes videos with native speakers explaining key reading concepts like critical reading, summarizing and scanning, and key life skills like signing a lease and reading a medicine label. Following each video is a comprehension quiz. Click on the blue tabs across the top lead for lessons on reading, writing, vocabulary and finance.

    GCF Learn Free
    gcflearnfree.org/everydaylife
    A well-designed site with interactive tutorials for everything from operating an ATM machine to reading food labels. If you click on the main page icon and then click on reading, the site has resources for English language learners as well, including stories to listen to and read along, and picture dictionaries.

    Language Guide
    languageguide.org/english
    This is an online picture dictionary, with everything from the alphabet to parts of the body to farm animals.

    Oxford University Press
    elt.oup.com/learning_resources
    This site from Oxford University Press has activities to practice spelling, grammar, pronunciation, and listening. A bit difficult to navigate, so more suitable for advanced learners and savvy internet users.

    Also, don't forget YouTube. Whatever you'd like to learn — an explanation of a grammar term, idioms, a set of vocabulary — enter it in the search field and an array of videos are sure to come up. I hope some of these sites prove useful. Enjoy! And please add your own favorite sites in the comments.