Free Websites to Practice English at Home

By Hilary Schenker
March 12, 2020
Aguilar Library
Adults work on their English speaking, reading, and writing skills at The New York Public Library.

At The New York Public Library's Adult English Language and Literacy Program, 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 online resources—some with a focus on listening, some on vocabulary, others on grammar, and some with a range of activities. Happy learning!

ABCYa
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.

Activities for ESL Students
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.

BBC Learning English
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.

Dave's ESL Cafe
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.

Duolingo
Free English courses for speakers of Arabic, Chinese, Czech, French, German, Greek, Hindi,Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Spanish, Thai, Turkish,Ukrainian, and Vietnamese. Start at the basic level or take tests to move to higher levels. Practice vocabulary and grammar with short lessons that are like playing a game. You will need to sign up with an email address or a Facebook account.

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

ESL Bits
Audiobooks, news stories, short stories, songs and radio dramas. Choose between faster or slower listening speeds and read along with the texts of the stories and songs. For intermediate and advanced learners.

GCF Learn Free
A well-designed site with interactive tutorials for everything from operating an ATM machine to reading food labels. This link will take you to the section on reading which has resources for English language learners as well, including stories to listen to and read along, and picture dictionaries.

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

Learning Chocolate
Vocabulary exercises organized by theme.

Many Things
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.

Oxford University Press
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.

TV 411
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.

Ventures Arcade
An online supplemental tool to the Ventures textbook series to practice vocabulary and grammar in theme-based contexts.

VOA English
Multimedia source of news and information for millions of English learners worldwide.

WeSpeak NYC

We Speak NYC (formerly We Are New York) is the City’s English Language Learning program. It provides civic-focused instruction through videos, web and print materials, and free community classes in all five boroughs.

Also, for NYPL cardholders, remember that Mango Languages is available to you through the Library. It features ESL lessons for Arabic, Cantonese, Mandarin, French, German, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Brazilian Portuguese, Polish, Russian, Spanish, Turkish, and Vietnamese speakers. (First time users must create a profile in order to access Mango Languages.)

If you have questions about accessing our online resources, please reach out to Ask NYPL.

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