Credits

Free English Learning Activities Online

With many free activities to learn or practice English online, where do you start? Here are a few helpful resources and ideas for how to use them.

Remember: learning a language is like building a house. You need a variety of tools–not just one. Make regular time to practice listening, reading, writing, and speaking.

Also like building a house, it helps to share the work with other people. There’s an expression: “Many hands make light work.”

Our English Language Learning (ELL) program at Waltham Public Library helps you practice English skills and connect with other learners.

Visit our calendar to learn about free online classes and programs this fall.

If you recommend other free online resources for learning English, please leave a comment on this post. Let’s have a conversation to help each other.

Language brings us together.

~Aaron Devine, Literacy Coordinator at Waltham Public Library

Contact me: adevine@minlib.net (email) or 781-314-3442 (phone)

Basic Vocabulary for Beginners

Use free with your Waltham Library card (Need one? Start with an ecard today). This app offers English language instruction in your first language with notes about grammar and culture as you learn. Practice speaking out loud; review each chapter with a friend.

Click on pictures and listen to learn the ABCs, as well as words for food, clothing, the body, nature, places, and more. Repeat the words; search for examples in your home, work, and neighborhood. Say their names out loud.

Games to practice vocabulary, spelling, phrases, and description. Write down new words in a journal. Practice correct spelling and word order.

Pronunciation and Listening

This website lists every sound in American English with pronunciation guides and examples. Make a list of sounds that are difficult for you. (Notice also how many you already know!) Read the “How to pronounce” guide and then practice. Ask a friend to listen.

This website has pronunciation guides (step-by-step) and animation to show how each sound is formed in the mouth. Review challenging sounds. Then find a fun tongue twister to practice.

Listen to short dialogues with comprehension questions. Choose from easy, intermediate, and difficult. After you listen, try to continue the dialogue: in writing by yourself, or in conversation with a friend.

Structure (Grammar and Writing)

This website offers grammar lessons and quizzes organized by topic. Practice a lesson by writing in your journal. Look for examples of the lesson when you read.

From grammar-maven Betty Azar’s website: free worksheets and activities created by teachers. Also, Suzanne Woodward’s Fun with Grammar in PDF. Practice a couple of song lessons from the site. Then choose your favorite singer/band and try to make your own grammar lesson with their lyrics.

Reading and Listening Comprehension

Listen and read current events articles. Review vocabulary and comprehension questions at the end. Read an article out loud twice, taking turns with a friend. Then talk about it: try to summarize the information first; share your opinions after.

Learn about a variety of topics from experts. Use the subtitles, transcripts, and translations to build your language skills. TED.com has internationally popular social media accounts. Follow or like one and join the conversation.

Songs, Stories, and Fun with English

Music is joyful and linked to memory. On this website, you can enjoy popular music and listen for missing words in the lyrics. Try the easier choice mode first and then try write mode (which involves spelling) for a harder challenge.

This website (and phone app) helps real people record interviews and stories about their lives. Some are animated so that you can listen and follow the images to build understanding. Add closed captions (cc) to read the text, too. If you enjoy this site, consider recording your own interview with a family member, neighbor, or friend. StoryCorps has lists of questions ready for you.

Ok, ok, dictionaries are not usually fun. However, the Merriam-Webster Learner’s Dictionary contains a picture quiz called “Name that Thing,” a word-of-the-day email, and Ask the Editor with questions and answers about the English language.


*Join Aaron for “Mango and More,” an introduction to some of these resources, streaming live on the Waltham Public Library YouTube channel, Friday, September 11 from 12-1PM. The program repeats in Spanish on Friday, September 25 from 12-1PM. In case you miss the livestream, both videos will remain available for viewing on our YouTube channel.

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