This is a quick post for all the people on my Facebook fanpage who request that I help them learn English.
Most regular visitors of this blog know how to make the distinction between coverage and analysis of all the exciting things that happen in online education, writing my articles in English and actually teaching English online. That said, I have had the chance to talk with quite a few companies that aim to help learners improve on their English.
So, for everybody who keeps asking, here are some companies I think are interesting to you. Of course this does not represent all of the great startups out there but it’s a start. All of them offer at least part of their content for free, but keep in mind that education in general and learning languages in particular is an investment in your own future and career.
However, free only gets you so far. I’d therefore recommend to also have a look at paid solutions of you’re serious about studying online.
Mobile learning can be a great way to “stuff” some learning time into your busy schedule, may it be on the way to work or during lunch break.
The startup allows you to study and share online flashcards, study guides and quizzes. With more than 2,000,000 flashcards added every week, the community is pretty active and you’ll not come to a dead end any time soon. You can study on the web or also download StudyBlue’s mobile app.
I made a quick search for “English” and the system came up with 15.9K cards. This search is, of course, very broad and ranges from American history, the Bill of Rights to studying English. If you search for “English language” you’ll still get 990 cards – all for free. I think, that’s a great basis and you might even want to contribute yourself and start by creating your own flashcards.
With Voxy you’ll have the best experience if you’re mother tongue is either Spanish or Portuguese and you want to learn English. The startup offers an interesting mobile approach to language learning and focuses on the personal or individualized experience which essentially means that you only get learning materials that fit your interests.
Voxy uses real content, no textbooks and have recently integrated Skype tutoring and learning English through music.
Live lessons with teachers & tutors
Next on my list are some fellow Edupreneurs who offer their programs online using various outlets such as teaching platforms, Facebook or YouTube. I picked these two because the think outside the box which I like (needless to say..).
My ESL Friends
Created by George Machlan, My ESL Friends gets you in touch with some non traditional approaches to teaching English, off the beaten track. To get an idea, visit their Facebook fanpage at facebook.com/MyESLfriends
Besides, George also uses a virtual classroom to offer his Edupunk lessons. You can find the schedule for his different live online classes on his blog.
Fluency MC / Collolearn
I let Fluency MC aka Jason Levine speak for himself: it’s all the 3Rs – relax, repeat, remember. If you’re looking once again for an innovative and fun approach to learn English for free, you should join his popular Facebook fanpage at facebook.com/FluencyMC and subscribe to his YouTube channel collolearn that’s he’s been growing over the past two years.
Language Learning Communities
Back to something more traditional. The following companies have been around for the past five or six years which makes them to established players in the world of online learning. As they’re still around today somewhat proves that there must be something to the way they let you learn languages on the net.
busuu is an online learning community on the internet which lets you learn English and other languages for free. You might even find a partner for language exchange in the community.
If you’re looking for something mobile or professional with a curriculum busuu offers various paid solutions that have found quite some success in the internet community.
To my knowledge one of the oldest language learning communities on the internet, at least the one I discovered early on. Since the days I tried it out in 2007 and 2008 a lot has changed, in the company’s structure, design-wise and about their offer.
I reckon, Livemocha offers the biggest variety of languages among the language learning communities that you can start learning for free. English is naturally the most popular by far. Similar to busuu Livemocha offers paid solution, e.g. if you want personal tutoring that comes with a pricetag.
Unlike the two big language learning communities mentioned above, Palabea adjusted their offer and differentiates from the others by focusing on topics that you love and cultural discovery. If you search for “English” you’ll find lots of users that also want to practise and offer their native language in exchange.
I guess, if you’re not necessarily looking for a professional tutor but have achieved some level already, this might be a good way to practise your English.
Voxopop was designed by my friend Dean Worth and is a voice-based e-learning tools that lets you explore or create talkgroups.
The talkgroups aim to improve students’ speaking skills. Teacher and students record quick voice messages to communicate or discuss a certain topic. Voxopop is used by people from around the world and entirely free to use.
As the name suggests, edutainment is a mix between education and entertainment. It’s getting more and more popular as you learn while you also have fun by watching movies, playing games and so on.
English Attack’s approach to help you learn English is entertainment based. You’ll learn through watching video, listening to music, play games and find new friends in the community. For instance, each day the startup releases a new video booster, free Photo Vocab or lets you play a free practice game.
There is lots available for free. However, if you want to have access to the entity of English Attack’s offer, you can activate your so called Booster Pass, their paid offer.
I hope, this gives you a number of tools at hand to learn or improve your English by studying online.
Depending on your preferences and personal taste you might prefer one method over another; I recommend you try my different suggestions out, explore further and get more recommendations from the people you will meet on the different services.
And that’s a wrap!
Picture via Wikimedia