You can learn English free. In many countries including the U.S., many schools and some other government or non-profit organizations offer classes without charge. (In the U.S. public schools are free for students under 18. Many adult school courses are also free.)
For many classes you don’t even need to buy books. Other schools (like community colleges, at least in California) charge fees, but they are often smaller for basic English classes than for other subjects.
You can also study English completely for free on the Internet. However, if you study without a class it’s important have a plan, be organized, and be willing to study regularly.
(See Learning English Online for a guide to making a plan that will work best for you.) Here are the most important things you need to do to learn English without a class:
1. Be disciplined. Decide how much time you have for studying English each week, and stick to your plan. Even 15 minutes or half an hour a day, five times a week, will add up to 32-65 hours in six months.
2. Practice. Take a few minutes right after each session to review what you have already learned. Listen to English whenever you can, read a lot, and say a little in English whenever you have a chance. You don’t need to understand every word, or to speak perfectly, without any mistakes.
3. For reading and listening, choose materials near but a little above your comfort level. Read or listen once to get the main idea, then again to understand more of the details. Look up words only if they are important for understanding.
4. Practice should be interesting and related to your needs so you will stay motivated day after day.
5. Recording your progress will also help you stay motivated Test yourself every few weeks to see what you have learned and what still needs practice. See the section below for some sites that give quizzes or progress tests. (The quizzes and tests on EnglishHints will help if you are at or above Intermediate level.)
6. Try a variety of ways to study (and a variety of websites) to find what works best for you. Each offers some advantages others don’t have. See the suggestions below for a few of the best sites to learn English for free.
Start with one of two programs that teach all the basics for English (or several other languages).
Duolingo is one good choice that is completely free. They have recently expanded to offer English for Chinese, Japanese, or Hindi speakers, as well as adding more interactivity and games. Check them out!
There are several multi-video classes (either free or paid) on You Tube, with lessons starting from basic conversations and continuing. English with Jennifer is excellent, with 65 beginner-- and more advanced-- lessons. I haven't checked out the others closely, but all have sample lessons, so you can see which work best for you.
English Conversation Practice has listening and speaking tips, and some excellent websites to practice those skills. Easy Reading for ESL Beginners suggests simple reading materials. Online Reading also has some good sites for beginners-- especially for reading the news (and practicing vocabulary from the news)-- the BBC, Voice of America, Newsela, and others. Check them out!
* Study English Online has suggestions for finding the pages on EnglishHints.com that will help you with your specific needs and interests. English Club also offers help with almost every aspect of learning English.
* English with Jennifer Videos discuss pronunciation, grammar (basic to advanced), slang, vocabulary (including idioms), and English for professionals. In addition to videos she also has study tips and other help.
* English Conversation Practice can help you find ways to practice listening and speaking in English. Most of the websites and ideas mentioned there are free. Finding an English-speaking study-buddy or mentor is especially helpful.
* The best way to build your vocabulary and fluency is by reading as much as you can. It will help you think in English, and your grammar will improve naturally as you become comfortable with the ways English speakers express ideas. See Finding English Reading Material & Online Reading.
* If you want to practice grammar by itself, some excellent sites are Learn American English Online or English4U, as well as the grammar section (and especially the practice pages) on the EnglishHints nav bar (on the left of this page.)
* Games are a good way to keep your interest up while you practice. Just be sure the games you choose help you practice kills you need to work on. ESL Games has some suggestions, or try Activities for ESL, with over 1000 online quizzes and activities including grammar and vocabulary; crossword puzzles, and Internet Treasure Hunts.
* It’s important to see your progress (as well as what you still need to work on), so try some tests and quizzes every few weeks. Besides Activities for ESL (above), there are lots of quizzes and tests on this site at ESL Quizzes.
Learning English is a major accomplishment. You will have to study regularly and consistently to make progress, but you can do it without spending a lot of money-- even completely for free. It’s worth the time and effort!
Go to Study English Online for specific pages to help you with the English help you need right now.