Who is this guide for?
Anyone who is learning English as a Second or Foreign Language (ESL/EFL). Teachers will also find it useful as a library of English-learning resources for themselves or their students.
Can you really learn English online?
While there are online programs which provide courses for complete beginners, I would strongly recommend finding a tutor or joining a class (online or face-to-face) for anyone in that situation. However, if you are a learner with a basic knowledge of English, the resources listed in this guide will enable you to improve your level by working on specific weaknesses (grammar or listening, for example), or by supplementing work done in class. The guide will also be useful for anyone who has finished their studies and wants to 'keep up' their English.
What's the most effective way of learning English?
Despite the wonderful opportunities for learning provided by the internet, the reality is that there are no magic solutions. Learning a language (and not just English) still requires a lot of hard work and motivation. Here are just a few tips (check out the resources on the How to Learn English Online page for more detailed advice):
— Fix your objectives. Ask yourself why you want to improve your English. Is it for travel, for work, to pass an exam, or just for your own pleasure? Do you want to speak more fluently, read books in English, write better essays, or something else?
— Make a plan. First, identify the areas you need to concentrate on to achieve your objectives. What, when, where and how will you study? Try to study regularly. Half an hour a day is better than two hours once or twice a week.
— Motivate yourself. Preparing an exam like the TOEIC or planning a trip to an English-speaking country can be very motivating if you find learning English is a chore.
— Make learning enjoyable. There are hundreds of things you can do to improve your English, so concentrate on those that you are most interested in (movies, music, news, literature, etc.).
— Be an active learner. Just watching movies or listening to songs in English probably won't do much to improve your level. Watch movies or series with, then without English subtitles. Make a note of new vocabulary. Create flashcards. Revise regularly. Learn from your mistakes. Take control of the learning process.
In fact, recent research into what is known as 'deliberate practice' has shown that "how expert one becomes at a skill has more to do with how one practices than with merely performing a skill a large number of times. An expert breaks down the skills that are required to be expert and focuses on improving those skill chunks during practice or day-to-day activities, often paired with immediate coaching feedback. Another important feature of deliberate practice lies in continually practicing a skill at more challenging levels with the intention of mastering it." [Source: Wikipedia]
How should I use this guide?
Check out as many sites as possible and stick with those that you find most useful/interesting. The categories are not exclusive. For example, to avoid repetition I have put news apps under 'News', but not under 'Apps'. To find all the resources for a particular keyword (e.g., 'intermediate', or 'app'), you can do a search.
Good luck, and please e-mail me if you find any broken links or have any suggestions for resources to include in a future edition of this guide.