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  • 4
    Hmm, you classified in terms of the type of source, but it could be more useful to classify on the part of English that it addresses: Grammar, Pronunciation, and so on Commented Aug 8, 2013 at 4:13
  • 3
    For the sake of completeness, I'll cross-link to the ELU question What are your favorite English tools? Most, though arguably not all, of these are very useful for learners, too.
    – ЯegDwight
    Commented Dec 31, 2013 at 16:47
  • I was trying to search here for two necessary things but couldn't find. I need a very good dictionary that has lots of examples of how a word works in different sentences and with different prepositions. And I need an approved website that has English tests. Commented Mar 30, 2017 at 13:55
  • I would add to that list: closed captions in movies/series.
    – Lambie
    Commented Sep 24, 2019 at 22:56
  • Would anyone add resources for reading comprehension, essay writing, literature (what you would learn at school)? Most books here happen to be about grammar!
    – Cheng
    Commented Feb 5, 2023 at 0:40
  • @Cheng ELL is for learning the English language, not more advanced skills such as how to write an essay. There are other sites (such as Writing SE and Literature SE) that cover those topics. Commented May 10, 2023 at 18:10

21 Answers 21



Dictionaries are useful for finding definitions, spellings, pronunciations, and usage examples.

Learner's dictionaries

English learner's dictionaries, as their name indicates, are focused on the particular needs of English language learners; they may have fewer entries than other dictionaries, but usually provide more extensive examples, usage notes, and related phrases.

Idioms, expressions, and slang

Many common idiomatic expressions may be found in standard dictionaries; these websites provide access to a larger and more thoroughly treated collection:

  • TFD Idioms and Phrases - From TheFreeDictionary, a searchable database of idioms from the Cambridge International Dictionary of Idioms and the Cambridge Dictionary of American Idioms.
  • The Phrase Finder — Provides meanings and origins of numerous English expressions and sayings, with commentary by Gary Martin.

For dialectical English, a standard reference is Joseph Wright's The English Dialect Dictionary, being the complete vocabulary of all dialect words still in use, or known to have been in use during the last two hundred years..., OUP 1898-1905. Available at archive.org: A-C, D-G, H-L, M-Q, R-S, T-Z

The use of slang, especially by a language learner, is somewhat fraught— what is acceptable in what situations is highly contextual and varies depending on numerous cultural conventions and social cues. Moreover, slang by its nature is informal and rapidly changing, making it difficult to compile into a reference. For those interested in understanding how slang is used, however, resources include the following:

General-purpose dictionaries

Full-length, general-purpose dictionaries are aimed at providing reasonably comprehensive coverage of the language mostly for native speakers. Online versions of dictionaries from the following publishers are commonly cited at ELL.SE:

Dictionary meta-references

Several sites either link out to multiple references, or provide merged results from the references directly. These can be useful for comparing definitions and usage notes across sources.

Etymology and history

  • The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) – The undisputed leading historical dictionary of English, showing the development of word meanings, including obsolete and obscure meanings, from the advent of English itself. A subscription is required, although free access is available via many libraries and universities.

  • Online Etymology Dictionary - An extensive free compilation of word origins compiled by Douglas Harper, based on the OED and other sources




  • 1
    What's the most respected and the most proper grammar book nowadays? Commented May 12, 2017 at 8:05
  • 2
    @SovereignSun CGEL is probably one of the most vetted modern grammar books. However, it's rather sui generis, that is, what you read from that book might be entirely different from what you have learned. Commented Aug 26, 2017 at 6:32


  • BBC Learning English Doesn't attempt to cover everything, but the things it does cover are nicely organised into "bite-sized chunks" that you can easily dip in to without getting bored or overloaded.

  • The English Club - "everything from grammar for learners to worksheets for teachers, including fun pages like games, videos, quizzes and chat." The Grammar Guide is especially good for beginners.

  • English Online France- Resources for students and teachers of English as a foreign language.(Listening exercises,pronunciation exercises, grammar exercises) instructions are in English.

  • Really Learn English Learn to Speak English website

  • The KISS Grammar Site - Instead of focusing on grammatical constructions, the KISS Approach focuses on texts. It uses grammatical concepts to explain how words in a sentence work together to create meaning. Check out the Welcome Page and Printable KISS Grammar Books.

  • VOA Learning English - "We are American English" - Comprehensive Learning English website that divides written and audio content by levels and topic. A must use site for those interested in contemporary American English, Idioms and Culture.

  • Guide to Grammar & Writing. Dedicated to the memory of Dr. Charles Darling.

  • HiNative multilingual Q&A site - a free interactive site where speakers of many languages and any fluency level can ask and/or answer questions about English. It has equivalent sections for Spanish, Japanese, etc. Supports images and audible attachments, and has separate sections for cultural questions. Registration required; minor extra features available to paid subscribers.

  • Lousy Writer - This site isn't designed for EFL learners, but it does favor "plain English" and has a lot of quick tips on a wide range of subjects from the parts of speech to writing a love letter.

  • Quizlet - A good website for mastering any kind of vocabulary. It can be very helpful for ELL.

  • You might want to add mention of my Encyclopedic Dictionary of Mercan English, which uses Esperanto as its interface language. Access to the dictionary is completely open. There is no registration of any kind required. The url is prof-vortaro-de-la-merk-angla.weebly.com.
    – Mike Jones
    Commented Nov 15, 2014 at 12:17

Exchanging online with a partner

  • Find a Discord server Discord is free a voice and text chat program that has many public servers dedicated to helping people learn a foreign language.

  • Italki This website features thousands of native English speakers who will do free language exchange with non-native speakers and who will correct texts that you write.

  • Language Exchanges - A site where you can find people to practice English with on Skype

  • Polyglott club Allows you to learn and practice foreign languages worldwide. Members can share their knowledge and ideas about any language or culture, whether online (Online Exchange) or face-to-face (Offline Exchange). Free.



  • Many Internet dictionaries provide recorded pronunciations: Oxford, Cambridge, Collins, Macmillan, Merriam-Webster, Wiktionary, and others.

  • There is also Forvo.com, which allows you to enter a word and hear it pronounced by everyday people. While dictionaries usually have more "neutral" pronunciations, Forvo can be good for letting you hear regional tendencies, local accents, and individual variations.

  • inogolo - This site bills itself as a "website devoted to the English pronunciation of the names of people, places, and miscellaneous stuff."

  • Another choice is IVONA TTS. It has a free app for Android, and several voices in various English dialects. You can use it to listen to the new words and their example sentences. You can also listen to the interesting news and texts to improve listening skills. I use it in combination with a "Voice reading" app.

  • A section of the British Library website called Sounds Familiar? has many recordings of contemporary British dialects and interesting discussions of current trends in British speech.

  • At YouGlish, when the user enters an English phrase, the site creates a playlist of YouTube videos containing that phrase cued to a few seconds before it, with the dialogue text below. It's useful for hearing many native speakers say the same phrase naturally.

  • 1
    What are some good materials on mouth shape and tongue position in pronunciation?
    – Hayatsu
    Commented Sep 7, 2023 at 2:01

Vocabulary builders

Wordly Wise 3000 – Learn more than 3000 advanced words (good for SAT).

The General Service List – The most common 2284 English words.

Spelling Through Morphographs by Robert Dixon and Seigfried Engelmann. Designed as a one-year supplement to an English class for students who are already familiar with English. Teaches the prefixes, roots, and suffixes that make up English words, and encourages students to play with combining them to make valid words. Teaches spelling and vocabulary, plus a bit of grammar.

Word of The Hour – A tool that features one basic English language vocabulary word every hour with an active community on Reddit. For more advanced vocabulary words, see FunWithWords.

Word Menu by Stephen Glazier; A unique dictionary that is organized by subject

  • The links look to be self-serving. The books4languages website is currently in Beta, the company is a startup business, it appears to only have 10 employees internshipmapper.com/en/employers/5299-mls-slu This is a page meant for established and reliable resources, not for semi-unknown companies. I have no choice but to roll back the edits.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Sep 19, 2019 at 8:30
  • ok. so, you understand if a company is reliable or not by the size, not the quality? very good. thanks.
    – Antonio D.
    Commented Sep 19, 2019 at 8:54
  • @books4languages.com. This page is reserved for established reliable resources that can be easily accessed or bought. I looked at the B4L website quite carefully before deciding to roll the edit back. There are hundreds of EFL and TEFL coursebooks available online and in bookstores. It would be impossible to list them all here. Moreover, a vocabulary builder is a book or resource that focuses on incrementing a learner's vocabulary. The series of coursebooks (but I didn't see where you could purchase them) offered by B4L are not specific to building one's vocabulary.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Sep 19, 2019 at 9:21

YouTube channels


Machine Translation

  • My only question was downvoted and maybe that's why I can't edit this. But add the deepl.com/en/translator
    – Nakilon
    Commented Dec 6, 2023 at 5:23




  • Hulu - Streaming video site (within United States)

  • Netflix - Streaming video and movies site (may not be accessible in all areas)

  • BBC iPlayer - Streaming video and radio (within United Kingdom)


Online courses

  • Duolingo - Learn English (and many other languages) with elements of gamification for free.
  • 3
    A very poor way to "learn a language." In fact, all you are doing is remembering grammar constructs, devoid of any real world, meaningful context so Duolingo is extremely limited in its usefulness. Commented Jul 27, 2016 at 3:52
  • 1
    @AlanCarmack While it may not be ideal as the sole learning tool, it encourages daily practice of the grammar and vocabulary while permitting the user to learn at his own pace. This is probably most beneficial when used in addition to other resources; e.g., talking to people, reading articles or watching the news, films, &c., in order to bring context to the newly learned grammar concepts. In any case, I have found it very useful for studying Russian.
    – ctype.h
    Commented Sep 24, 2016 at 1:27

Audio books

  • BITS English Language Learning - Site's purpose: to help students improve their listening and reading comprehension of the English language. English Language Learners will find many suitable audiobooks there.

  • Librivox - Public domain audiobooks read by volunteers, freely available

  • Wired for Books - on line educational project of the WOUB Center for Public Media at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio. (Features author interviews, dramatic audio productions of classic literature, readings of poetry, short stories, lectures, essays, and children's literature.

  • Lit2Go - a collection of children's literature. You can find several familiar stories and novels along with some poems here. All come with audio and Flesch–Kincaid Readability Level. Special thanks go to autumn season in this question.


Thesauruses (or Thesauri)

Note most dictionary websites contain a section that has a thesaurus. See Dictionaries.



  • Anki is a spaced repetition flashcard program.
  • Artha, a free cross-platform English thesaurus that works off-line, and exists in portable (USB drive) version
  • HiNative, a mobile app with a community (also listed under Websites)

Browser add-ons

  • Add the resources here in alphabetical order.


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