50 Essential Resources for ESL Students


Learning a new language is always daunting, especially when that language is as full of weird rules and contradictions as English. Even native speakers sometimes have trouble mastering the nuances of tense and grammar. Fortunately, if you’re originally a non-English speaker, there are a fantastic amount of resources online to help you master the English language. From speaking to writing, these tools will help you get a handle on English and help you in your education and career. Don’t let the size of the task stop you from getting it done. Use these resources and you’ll be fluent in no time.

Grammar and Usage

Use these sites to boost your grammar knowledge, from verb tenses to noun placement.

  1. Purdue Online Writing Lab: The OWL is a wonderful repository of practice sheets and linguistic primers for learners at all levels.
  2. Dave’s ESL Cafe: ESL teacher Dave Sperling’s in-depth site provides numerous lessons about sentence structure, word use, and more.
  3. The English Learner Movie Guides: This site takes popular movies and uses their summaries and idioms to discuss the English language. Great for ESL students with a love of U.S. culture.
  4. ESL Partyland: The festive name is an indicator of how laid-back this handy ESL site can be. Various exercises let students practice writing and reading as they use external sites to boost their comprehension.
  5. Breaking News English: These inventive lesson plans teach ESL by drawing inspiration from recent news and global affairs. Packed with information about word usage, grammar, and more.
  6. ESL-Lounge: Hundreds of awesome exercises make this site a fantastic tool for students. Parts of speech and vocabulary are classified by difficulty.
  7. Activities for ESL Students: This pared-down website offers grammar quizzes at multiple degrees of difficulty and for learners from dozens of different language backgrounds.
  8. Using English: A handy reference guide to major parts of speech and their usage, with bonus material for ESL instructors.
  9. 5-Minute English: This wonderful site not only offers a variety of lessons and exercises, it also boasts links to other helpful ESL programs, books, and schools.
  10. English, Baby!: Download MP3s, join chat rooms, take quizzes, and more on this useful site.
  11. English Forums: Get help from English speakers or other ESL learners in the world’s largest ESL network. Don’t be afraid to speak up and ask questions.

Spelling and Pronunciation

These sites will help ESL students learn how to speak or spell the English words they’ve been learning.

  1. Business English Lessons: There are dozens of key phrases on this site complete with audio clips to help ESL students practice clear pronunciation.
  2. Antimoon: Learn to recognize the sounds in the English language and use correct intonation.
  3. English Zone: Take on English spelling, including possessives, verb endings, contractions, and more, with this site.
  4. Learn That Word: Learn vocabulary and spelling on this site. You can narrow down your lessons by commonly misspelled words or TOEFL vocabulary.
  5. BBC Learning English: This resource from the British channel offers all kinds of lessons and tips for learning English, including pronunciation, vocab, and grammar lessons.
  6. Learn English Kids, British Council Though this site is aimed at kiddos, anyone trying to get a grasp on English spelling and speaking will find its games fun and useful.
  7. English Leap: This site has several helpful pages; this one in particular gives a great overview of pronunciation rules for different letter combinations in English.
  8. Funbrain: This site has a lot of games for kids to learn all kinds of subjects, but ESL students can use it to make their reading lessons more fun. Play the reading games or the Spell Check quiz to practice your spelling.

Vocabulary and Writing

Building a vocabulary is one of the most important parts of mastering a language. These sites help students start adding words to their vocabulary, learning how to use them verbally and on paper.

  1. Answers.com’s Idiom Dictionary: When a phrase doesn’t make sense literally, turn to this idiom dictionary to understand what it means.
  2. Flash Card Exchange: This browser-based tool lets you study thousands of words, create your own flash cards, and sort cards based on category and learner language.
  3. 20-Minute ESL Lessons: These audio lessons cover basic vocabulary for a variety of everyday situations, including office life.
  4. Vocabulary Can Be Fun: This site offers a variety of entertaining games designed to enhance vocabulary use through interactive play.
  5. Pizzaz: This site uses poems and short stories as writing examples and exercises to teach creative writing and usage.
  6. About.com English Vocabulary: About.com has a number of resources for ESL including these helpful business vocabulary lessons for several different industries.
  7. Aardvark’s English Forum: In the student section of this forum, you can read famous quotations, work your way through novels in English, and do interactive language exercises to understand the written English language better.
  8. Vocaboly: Download a free trial of this site’s vocabulary builder and then test your knowledge.

Quizzes and Worksheets

Put your knowledge to the test with these helpful tools.

  1. Self-Study Quizzes for ESL Students: Just what it sounds like. These tests will help students learn grammar, tricky words, vocabulary, and more.
  2. Vocabulary Quizzes: These word quizzes cover everything from animals and food to famous quotes and American slang.
  3. Advanced English Grammar Exercises: This plain website hosts dozens of detailed quizzes broken down by topic.
  4. ESL Resource Center: This site was created for ESL teachers, so plenty of worksheets, tips, and lessons are available and work well even for those teaching themselves or trying to get ahead.
  5. ESL HQ: Get access to hundreds of worksheets for learning English from this online forum.
  6. iSL Collective: This ESL teachers’ forum is a great place to find worksheets for practice or teaching yourself English. Browse through hundreds of topics that have already been uploaded, and check back for more as teachers around the world add them.
  7. English Gateway: Download these ESL worksheets to test yourself and use the teacher notes to double-check your knowledge.

Podcasts

These podcasts make great instructional tools for students on the go.

  1. ESL Podcast: Regular updates and easy categorization make this podcast a great resource.
  2. LanguageCaster: A large majority of the non-English-speaking world is crazy about football (soccer to Americans), so this podcast uses sporting news and analogies to teach English.
  3. China232: There are dozens of helpful podcast lessons here that students can use to learn about North American language and culture.
  4. Culips: Billed as “a podcast for English learners throughout the world,” this fantastic site tailors content to a variety of languages. Hosts use news, history, and slang to break down the quirks of the English language.
  5. ESL Aloud: These lessons range from basic word instruction to more complex scenarios like going to the store or working in an office.
  6. Podcasts in English: This site offers free podcasts for anyone looking to learn English. They’re separated by skill level and subject so you can choose what fits you best.
  7. British Council Learn English: The British Council provides three series of podcasts to help learn the language and practice your listening skills.

YouTube Channels

Lessons that you can both see and hear can make all the difference in your conversational English. Check out these YouTube channels to get the experience of talking to someone face-to-face and don’t be afraid to talk back!

  1. VOA Learning English: With this Voice of America channel, you can hear news and feature stories in American English, but spoken 33% slower than normal to make it easier to follow along. You’ll get a grasp on a wide range of vocabulary subjects.
  2. Listen and Read Along: This is exactly what it sounds like. Listen to stories and read along with them by following the highlighted word. Hear pronunciation and intonation while getting a better grasp on sentence structure.
  3. TOEFL TV: Get English-learning tips and learn about questions that appear on the TOEFL test.
  4. OMGmeiyu’s channel: This site is great for Chinese speakers. YouTube user OMGmeiyu uses her animated style and knowledge of Chinese to help native Chinese speakers learn English in a fun and relatable way.
  5. English with Jennifer: The host of this channel is a great ESL teacher for those who needs more guidance than just reading off of websites. She’s separated her videos into playlists covering vocabulary, verb tenses, pronunciation, and more.
  6. English Teacher Melanie: If you need some help with your pronunciation, particularly with an American accent, English Teacher Melanie goes into detail in her videos, covering each sound and explaining differences between American pronunciation and that of other areas.
  7. EF podEnglish: These English lessons are broken up into five-minute chunks and by skill level, so you can get a quick lesson whenever you can fit it in.
  8. Teacher Phil: Study basic English, business English, idioms, and more with Teacher Phil. You’ll learn how to speak with an American accent and use proper English, even taking on some of the more confusing language rules.
  9. BBC Learning English’s Channel: We mentioned BBC’s great site for learning English, but their YouTube channel has just as much to offer. Watch “The Flatmates,” a soap opera made for learning English, or learn about different idioms.