Free English language websites

These sites all offer the 'complete' package. Grammar, reading, listening, writing and speaking skills are all covered -  using a wide variety of methods and formats - video, audio, text, and pictures. Each of the above has its own methodology which is ultimately a matter of individual taste. They all offer a part of their services free. However, it has to be said that the free part is more suitable for beginners than anything above an intermediate level. They all offer online tuition, individually or in groups, and an online community . However, to access these, you either need to pay, or you have to take part in what is known as 'peer support'. This means you earn 'points' by 'supporting and correcting' contributions from other members of the 'community'. This is fine if you have a lot of time or like community -  based learning situations, and are prepared to accept the fact that some of the 'support' you get may not be that reliable.

This site provides a platform where you can contact a native speaker who is learning German. You can either practice conversation skills via Skype or writing skills by text 'chatting'. The site is available in German and English. It also provides subjects to discuss, including ideas to think about and questions to ask each other. The idea is to switch languages after half time. The conversational level is Intermediate (B1) and above. However, If your language level is lower, the site recommends you initially text chat until you feel confident enough to voice chat.

This site may be more interesting for beginners and pre-intermediate learners (A2 and below). The site is in German and English, and very simple to operate. The language level of potential contacts is given. This means, of course, your partner will not be a native speaker. The language you learn may not be 'correct' - but it's a great way of improving confidence and fluency. The site also gives helpful tips about conversation subjects and questions to ask each other - these are unfortunately only in English.

If you like doing grammar exercises, this site provides better material than most grammar books I know. The site is in German and English. Click on the grammar link on the home page. Using the 'quick menu' option, you can find clear and simple explanations, together with exercises where you can practise each point made.

This is a great site for watching short videos. You choose your level, key your subject into the search box, and you can watch a series of video clips accompanied by quizzes, questions and texts.

This is one of my favourite sites  and is just the thing if you have to work with people who speak English with strong national accents and/or regional dialects. In particular, the many types of accents and dialects in American English is challenging for many learners of English. This site has recorded hundreds of interviews in English with people from all over the world. Some people don't speak clearly, some are too fast, some use slang, some have very pronounced accents or dialects, and some use 'incorrect' English. This is 'global' English. Many learners find this frustrating, but this is the English that most people have to work with. Like everything, it's a question of practice: the more you listen to a national or regional accent, or to someone who doesn't speak particularly clearly, the easier it gets. The interviews are supported by text transcripts, comprehension questions and vocabulary exercises. Texts and audio recordings can be downloaded. Click 'advanced search' and then choose your level, subject and accent (country).

A good site for absolute beginners up to pre-intermediate level (A2), and would probably be of interest to some people with higher levels of English. The site can be accessed in English or German. The basic idea is to watch and listen to short video clips of people being interviewed. The language used in the video is then explained and practised in subsequent exercises. There is an interesting possibility to record the vocabulary learnt in each lesson to check pronunciation. Although the interviewers speak American English, the interviewees speak with a variety of regional and national dialects.

Voice of America - Learn American English with VOA Learning English (

This is also a very good site for beginners at A1 level. Click on 'Activities' and then 'Beginner'. Each 'lesson' is divided into 3 parts: vocabulary learning, listening comprehension using the learnt vocabulary, and 'conversation' practice in which you try and memorise the questions or answers in the dialogue you have just heard.

Click on 'Learning English', and you will find the Learning Programmes. They are all good. The Business of English (Intermediate B1) provides, via video and transcript, good standard phrases for typical situations such as telephoning, negotiation and presenting in English. I particularly like the Nexus programme (Intermediate B1 to Advanced C2). This provides short video clips of Australian life and culture together with transcripts, vocabulary and grammar notes and quiz comprehensions. Good for learning to understand Australian English.

Voice of America - Learn American English with VOA Learning English (

This is from the Voice of America. Click on 'V.A the Classroom' for high - quality material for intermediate learners and above. The reports present American culture and history in a very entertaining way. They are accompanied by transcripts and vocabulary and comprehension exercises.

Good for listening to colloquial American English.

Finally, the British Council has an outstanding site for learning English.

If you like listening to standard English, then this is for you. Click on 'Listen and Watch'. The audio recordings are accompanied by excellent vocabulary building and comprehension exercises.

A site that offers a lot of material. Here is a very brief summary of  what is available. Have a look at the 'General and Business' page. The 'Get that Job' link also has some good vocabulary exercises for people who work in Personnel. The 'Welcome to London' link could be quite useful  if you're intending to visit the place. If you're interested in chat forums, the 'Express English' link asks a different question each week. You hear a short recording of people giving their opinions (lots of different British accents here). You are then invited to write in your opinion, which, if you're lucky, is published on the site. The 'Talking Business' link provides the standard vocabulary the BBC thinks people use in typical business situations.