Whether you’re an English-language teacher or yourself an enthusiast, here are our 10 favourite and (almost entirely) free online resources for grammar, vocabulary, self-assessment, and speciality topics that you shouldn’t be missing out on.
In addition to being a vast pool of online information and fancying itself everyone’s personal English school, what brings Englishpage.com to the fore is its active forum community, essentially bridging English-language enthusiasts and teachers the world over. Englishpage.com’s main page boasts an exhaustive A-Z menu of virtually every facet of the language, allowing visitors to self-refer in-house with respect to tutorials, curiosities, or even follow-up on everything from articles and adverbs to verbs and vocabulary.
Another regularly updated and active site is English Grammar Online (for You) – more commonly shortened to ego4u. What makes ego4u a standout in this otherwise crowded field is its study-guide approach to information framing and delivery. Whether it’s diagrams and tables for a refresher or quick-access charts for that late-night cram session, ego4u excels at the school of to-the-point, no-nonsense ‘cram sheets’ – that is, information-compact handouts for short, intensive periods of study. In this sense, ego4u is positively as much an online resource for students as it is for teachers.
For a vocabulary focus, there is arguably no better online resource than the Merriam-Webster Learner’s Dictionary. Complete with real-time elements like Word of the Day and lists for trending searches (see Lookups), Learner’s Dictionary features an Ask the Editor corner where visitors from anywhere in the world can read and by clicking a simple Ask Your Question button actually contribute to an everyday English-language Q&A. Word-webbing, or the methodological association of words by purpose or topic, is also 3000-words strong in what Merriam-Webster calls its Core Vocabulary; the many contexts of which are usefully topical and vary from sports and jobs to the environment and even nuances of emotion.
For definitions plus, UsingEnglish.com delivers information profiles on over 100,000 words – yes, you read that number right. Complementary to a word-checker tool as well as exhaustive word lists (to include hotel language and military speak), UsingEnglish.com offers a free text analyser in which a body of text can be entered or pasted and in just a click, combed through for a myriad of curious statistics – think counts on unique words used, sentence total, and average number of words per sentence. Their teacher resources (in the form of handouts, worksheets and the like) are impressively many and a large subset of which are classroom-ready printables. And if there’s ever a word you want more defined or a question you have, there’s an active on-site forum to join as well.
Woodward English might be working with a smaller database of words than Merriam-Webster and UsingEnglish.com, but it makes up for which in hosting fun activities replete with pictorialised song lyrics as well as dozens of multi-choice games, to include the timelessly popular hangman, where students have a limited number of attempts to decipher a word letter by letter. Equally as helpful is the related site Woodward English: English Grammar being only a click away and delivering a grammatical counterpart to the vocabulary resources mentioned here.
GrammarBook.com might be all about grammar and punctuation but in doing so never strays far from the mantra: if you know it, show it. Their methodically thorough while nonetheless clear delivery of rules governing the English language is superseded only by their interest in quizzing you on it. Dozens of self-assessment opportunities are available for free and with a yearly subscription to their services, that number increases into the hundreds. An active grammar blog as well as the professional writing services on offer help bring them a cut above the competition.
The British Council’s LearnEnglish corner reminds one more of a treasure trove than anything typical of a classroom. Under their Skills tab, LearnEnglish is at your service with videos, podcasts, zines, stories, poems, and writing topics – all with the express goal of exposing you to native English-language material while then testing your mastery of which, whatever level that may be. Its site is easily navigable and also has a warmly diverting feature called Study break, where, just like it sounds, one gives their focus a rest and delights in games, jokes, or even Shakespeare, amongst other cultural detours.
To whom near no one is a stranger, the English site of Oxford Dictionaries has a less spoken of nook to their main website called Usage. It’s a touch buried if you’re new to the site with all the videos and scores of other original content, but you’ll find the link last under their Grammar section. It is, in our humble opinion, one of the best collections of English-language guidance on the Internet, focusing on all sorts of random tidbits from why ‘farther’ and ‘further’ are de facto not interchangeable and when you should use ‘presume’ in place of ‘assume’ and vice versa. You’ll have to check it out for yourself though to take in all that’s on offer.
Speakspeak may or may not be an online resource you’ve visited before but if not, make sure to head over and give it an earnest perusal. It has countless printables on-demand covering tenses, verbs, prepositions and what have you – all of which neatly packaged by corresponding levels of beginner to upper-intermediate and culminating with business. In addition to the site having a simple-to-surf layout, it offers notes on grammar, vocabulary, and even commonly tricky areas of pronunciation. Use of the site is free but if you find yourself willing and able, they have downloads and e-books for purchase to help support the site.
Last but not least on our list is PinkMonkey.com. Besides having a great name and a reputation for being appropriate for all ages, they offer one of the most, if not the most, extensive link libraries for online reading material. The links they’ve tirelessly vetted, collected, and organised connect readers to summaries, notes, and interpretations external to the respective literature itself – a surefire means of challenging and broadening your own understanding, takeaway, and/or perspective on matters. Their Most popular section currently shows such titles as Bram Stoker’s Dracula and R.L. Stevenson’s Treasure Island. Study guides are also available on a range of school subjects outside of literature and language, to include world history, biology, and even physics – very much a site for the inquisitive-minded.