You can learn English free. In many countries (including the U.S.), many schools and some other 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. They are usually low for basic English classes.
(If you want to jump straight to suggestions by level, see For beginners or If you know a little English.)
You can also study English completely for free on the Internet. However, if you study without a class, it’s important to 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 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. That will help you 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. They've also added more interactivity and games. Check them out!
There are several multi-video classes (either free or paid) on YouTube. Their lessons start with basic conversations and continue to intermediate and up.
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 teachers are 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. Many help you read the news (and practice its vocabulary.) Check out the BBC, Voice of America, Newsela, and others.
* Study English Online has suggested pages on EnglishHints.com to meet your specific needs and interests. English Club also offers help with almost every aspect of learning English.
* English with Jennifer Videos discuss pronunciation, grammar, slang, vocabulary, and idioms. Jennifer also has videos to teach English for professionals. Besides videos, she also has study tips and other help.
* See English Conversation Practice for 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. Then your grammar will improve naturally. You'll 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. See the grammar section (especially the practice pages) on the EnglishHints' nav bar.
* Games are a good way to keep your interest up while you practice. Be sure the games you choose help you practice skills you need to work on. ESL Games has some suggestions. You could also try Activities for ESL. It has over 1000 online quizzes and activities. They range from grammar and vocabulary to 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 be regular and consistent to make progress in your studies. The good news is that 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 give you the English help you need right now.
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