Having a conversation with an English native speaker is the best way to improve your level of the language. However, unfortunately for a variety of reasons, this is not always possible!
But, don't worry, we have a solution to your problem.
There are many online language learning tools for English, including websites you can use to either consolidate your knowledge of the language or to simply learn English from scratch.
Why are language learning websites beneficial?
- They're interactive: the majority of these websites offer fun games you can play to learn vocabulary and different grammatical rules.
- Learn at your own pace: you can learn English from the comfort of your own home. Just before bed, you can play a quick English language game, with no pressure. You are your own boss.
- You can vary the websites you use: you don't always have to stick to one website, you can vary the websites you use. One day you can use Babbel and the next day, Rosetta Stone, depending on your mood!
Babbel is available both on the web, as well as on Android and iOS.
Are you a beginner in English starting from scratch? Or are you an intermediate learner? Whichever you may be, Babbel is perfect as it tailors to everyone's language needs.
- Vocabulary lessons on different topics.
- Courses with tongue twisters, idioms, colloquialisms and all the different sayings you need to know.
- A review of each lesson to consolidate what you learned.
Each lesson takes around 12 minutes and once you’re finished you get a grade out of 58. The lesson plan is extremely well organised. You are given a detailed explanation on the lesson, for example, “How to order in a restaurant” or "how to ask for the bill politely" and you then answer some questions. It is exceptionally interactive and you can choose from a wide range of topics to learn from.
However, Babbel does have its advantages and disadvantages.
- The website is extremely attractive and the design is easy to navigate round, for all ages!
- Each lesson is extremely detailed, there is a lot of information but it is fun.
- Babbel has turned learning English a hobby and not a chore.
- Unfortunately, Babbel does come at a cost of $13 per month.
However, for all the benefits you will receive, $13 per month can be worth it, right?
The language-learning software, Rosetta Stone was released online in 2014 and is available on the web and on iOS and Android, in 24 languages.
The founders of Rosetta Stone guarantee that by using their language-learning tool, you can easily learn a new language, such as English, without visiting an Anglophone country.
How Does it Work?
Rosetta Stone believe that the best way of learning a foreign language, such as English is not through translation. This language-learning tool has adopted a different teaching method to Babbel. It is even more interactive, they believe that teaching a language through images and sounds is an excellent way of drilling a foreign language into your brain.
It has been said that we do learn better through patterns, games and fun images.
Unlike Babbel, with Rosetta Stone, you are told if you answered the correct answer after each question, not at the end of the quiz.
Not only does it teach vocabulary on different topics, but it is also great for improving your English pronunciation. Firstly, you are given the option of hearing a native English speaker say a word, for example, "The table", you then record yourself saying this word and can play your recording back by comparing it with the native's pronunciation. You can record your voice for as many times as you wish until you feel you have it right.
You can also practice having an English conversation with Rosetta Stone's English native tutors. It works similar to a Skype or FaceTime call, you can hear and speak to your tutor and they can help you with anything, for example, "How to book a hotel room" or more simple things, like "How to introduce yourself in English".
Search for English courses here.
However, like with Babbel, if you are interested in learning English with Rosetta Stone, you must subscribe to their online membership. You have the option of committing yourself to either a 12 month or 24-month membership.
It isn't cheap, but we all know it will be worth it in the end!
Like the other language-learning tools we have seen, Memrise is available on the web and on iOS and Android. It was founded in 2005 and is available in 25 languages, and of course in the most widely spoken language worldwide: English!
Memrise only covers vocabulary exercises, it does not offer lessons in grammar, pronunciation, and reading.
It offers many different levels suited to your personal level.
For example, the levels for beginners work on basic vocabularies, such as "cat" or "house". The more advanced levels give users an insight into more complex vocabulary and phrases.
How Does it Work?
Memrise takes a completely different approach to the other tools we have seen. They base their application around "mems". Now, we have all seen "mems" on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, you can spend hours scrolling through them laughing your head off!
You are shown a set of cards (the mems) and a meaning. Each mem has a phrase or word that is linked to the photo or audio. This encourages you to memorise the mem and its meaning through visual quizzes.
Users also have the option of creating their own mems. For example, if you are playing Memrise and come up with an easier way to remember a particular word, you can make your own mem and upload it onto Memrise. Fun, right?
You can also hear a word being said by an English native speaker by tapping the voice button. This is great for listening and knowing the right pronunciation, as you can hear the recording over and over again. If Listening is the way you learn best, Check out these podcasts for learning English.
Whatever your level may be, if you're interested in learning new English vocabulary through photos and mems, then Memrise is suitable for you!
Duolingo was launched in 2011 and offers a variety of English language learning courses.
Duolingo has adopted a very different approach to the other websites we have seen.
This language learning platform believes you learn English better by translating short texts and phrases, as well as doing a variety of listening dictation exercises. This is an extremely French way of learning a language, and it works a treat! Learn which translation tools are best for learning English here.
The exercises are very short, so you can play whenever you have a moment, whilst you're waiting for the train for example.
Duolingo have the option of completing a timed practice option, where you are given 20 questions with 30 seconds to answer. This feature does sound pretty difficult, but it is perfect if you're looking to learn English quickly!
If you like the sound of what you have read so far, then look no further and download Duolingo!
Unlike many language learning websites, Duolingo is completely free! There are a few extras you can opt to pay for, like the timed practice option, but this is not obligatory and you can still learn English on Duolingo without paying a penny.
As you can see, there are great language learning websites out there. Not only will you be improving your level of the English language, but you'll also have a lot of fun. Language learning websites have and will continue to revolutionise the way we all learn a language, whether it is Chinese or English. The interactivity that language learning websites offer makes learning a language fun.
So, you can throw away your English grammar and vocabulary books and turn to these websites! (we can all agree that learning boring old vocabulary can be painful)!
If you are interested in taking ESOL courses or learning English online, you can find a range of specialised private tutors on Superprof.