The A-Z Guide to Online English Courses: Study Tips, Resources and More


Microsoft founder Bill Gates once said, “The internet is becoming the town square for the village of tomorrow.”

And if you think about it, it already is! We have the cinema, jobs, entertainment and we can even meet our friends in this village.

But what about English schools?

Well, perhaps the online English courses are our new English schools!

With connected learning, lectures, activities and games, they’re a great way to learn English. You can also study in a relaxed and familiar environment. They’re a place where you can go to learn a new and beneficial skill (often for free).

But there are so many options for you to discover. Sometimes you might even get lost in this new village.

For this reason, we’re going to look at everything you need to know about online English courses.

So you can stay educated and take on the new world with your English skills.

And above all, you’ll be able to make the right decision when it comes to your learning goals by choosing the right course for you!

6 Reasons Why You Should Take an Online English Course

Of course, online English courses are a great way to study or become more familiar with the English language. But, there are lots of benefits to taking this approach that may not seem apparent (obvious) at first.

Let’s do a quick summary of why taking an online English course can be of great benefit to your English learning goals.

1. You Will Study with Structure and Direction

Rather than simply studying bits and pieces of English on a daily basis, an online English course follows a “roadmap.” This means there is a plan behind each lesson and they are structured to improve learning. In addition to this, every lesson builds on the previous one.

This is what we might call a logical approach. Many online English courses start with basic concepts and increase with difficulty as you continue through the course. You can study knowing there is an end goal in sight.

2. You Can Objectively Measure Your Progress

Online English courses are also an excellent way to get a clear idea of what your English level currently is.

This is because they commonly follow the logical structure of beginner, intermediate and advanced levels. In addition to this, there are opportunities to take tests, quizzes and assessment activities. These will help give you an accurate idea of your English level and how you are developing in the course.

You simply need to monitor or keep an eye on (watch or observe) your results and feedback.

Some online English courses might even follow a national or international framework—for example, a European or North American language standards chart.

This means you will be able to measure your progress on a national scale objectively.

3. You Can Choose from a Variety of Courses

The great thing about online courses is that there is so much variety. Because of the global marketplace, there is a demand for all sorts of English learning.

Perhaps you have studied a general English course and are looking for something more specific. If you are a medical student or health worker wanting to work in the medical field in an English speaking country, then there are lots of courses to learn medical English online. This is just one example of many.

Or, if you are looking for some English skills that will allow you to travel and work across the English-speaking world, then you could consider taking a course in English for hospitality work. With this skill, you will be pouring pints of British ale in a London pub in no time! 

If there is a particular part of English learning that you wish to practice, you will also find something to cover this skill. For example, you can perfect your pronunciation with online English pronunciation resources or find courses related to vocabulary, grammar and many more.

You can even learn English with movies, songs and other fun videos with a program like FluentU.


FluentU takes real-world videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.

With FluentU, you can browse a library of thousands of videos in English. Just choose your level and pick a video that interests you! Before the video starts, you’ll learn key vocabulary and grammar, but if you find a word you still don’t know while watching it, just click or tap on the word in the subtitles.

FluentU will then give you the meaning of the word, some example sentences and related images.

Plus, you can easily measure your progress and reinforce what you learned with quizzes and flashcards. FluentU uses spaced-repetition flashcards, which store new vocabulary into your long-term memory (so you won’t forget them easily).

If you want to give learning English with videos a try for free, sign up for FluentU today!

4. You Are in Control of Your Learning

While it is sometimes advisable to follow a schedule of learning and attendance, online courses are generally more flexible than “in-school” classes.

This means a couple of things.

Firstly, you are able to learn English from the comfort of your own home.

Secondly, you can catch up on lectures and classes in your own time.

Thirdly, you are able to fit the class around your daily schedule. This is great if your schedule changes from day-to-day.

Finally, many English courses offer trial classes or money-back guarantees, meaning if you select a course that is not quite right for you, you will have the option of changing it.

5. You Feel a Sense of Accomplishment and Achievement

There’s nothing wrong with self-study. It can be very rewarding and can suit different types of learners.

However, sometimes taking an English course is a great way to increase your motivation and passion for study.

Think about it this way. When was the last time you finished a book? A hard gym workout or a long run? A big work project that your boss was happy with? Completing a big goal or task makes us feel all good inside.

This is because these are targets that you can aim for. These help to push you towards your goal and provide that feeling of success when you complete them.

In fact, you will find that many online English courses offer some type of certificate or accreditation once you have completed the course. This also has benefits like employment (job) opportunities.

6. You Will Save Some Money

Online English courses are a very cheap learning option. In fact, you can even find a quality course for free. We will discuss everything you need to know about this further below.

Either way, if you are wanting to save some money or explore a few different courses then you will find that online options are an inexpensive choice.

This affordability means you will be able to use online English courses as a learning resource again and again.

How to Find the Perfect Online English Course in 6 Easy Steps

There are many different online English courses available today. They range in difficulty, level, content, style and focus.

You could take a beginner English course in email writing or an advanced adjectives course! Or, try a classic English course for beginners. 

Because of this, we need to look at some strategies and top tips when choosing the right course. Because there is no perfect English course, only the perfect English course for you and your level.

online english courses

1. Look for Good Ratings and Reviews

Before you sign up for a course, take some time to do some research. This is especially important if you are paying for the course.

Make sure you are prepared by reading through all the reviews and ratings that have been given to the course.

What did people who have taken the course say? Did they like it? Did they find it beneficial? Was it too hard or too easy for the level it says it teaches?

Sometimes if there are no reviews, it can be a bad sign. Or perhaps it is a new course. Either way, it is important to check what people have said.

You can also search popular blogs and review websites to see if any past students have commented on the course you are planning to take.

2. Find a Course That Is Your Level

One of the most important steps is to be sure that the course matches your English level. For example, if you know a little bit of English already but haven’t studied it for a while, you might want to take an intermediate online English course.

Here you will need to decide about your current level and which difficulty level of a course will best help you. You can also have your level assessed or do some online tests to get a general idea of your current skills.

3. Make Sure the Course Covers Your Learning Goals

Have a think about what you want to learn. Do you want to learn business English? What about English grammar?

Make sure that the course you are selecting covers the topics that you are hoping to learn. Obviously, a general English course will cover the basics like grammar and vocabulary, but there are many specific courses out there for you to choose from.

When e-learning with English websites, it is very important that the course content will contribute to your learning goals. Make sure you have these clearly defined before you search for a course.

Once again, there’s guaranteed to be a course out there that suits you—from ESL websites for kids to English courses for working adults.

4. Set a Budget

As we will discuss below, there are various different types of English courses.

With this comes different costs and pay structures. There are tons of great free options for you to choose from, but if you have money to spare, you can always pay for a course.

This is entirely up to you and your budget as well as how much you are willing to spend on English courses. You can find some for as little as $10 or as expensive as $1,000!

5. Check if There Is Accreditation or Certificate

Many courses offer a certificate of completion or accreditation. While it may not be from an official institution that you attended in person, sometimes these certificates are great for both jobs and personal fulfillment.

It’s always a great idea to check if they offer this, as it leads us nicely into our next point.

6. Find Out How Your Progress Is Measured

Taking an English course is a great decision and you should be proud of any attempts to educate yourself further.

If you are considering paying for an English course, then it is very important to find out how exactly your progress is measured. Do they offer exams? Online quizzes? Essays?

If you are paying for a course, you should consider it an investment.

With any investment, you should hope for a return and in this case, the return is an improvement in your English level. Because of this, knowing if you are improving at a steady pace is very helpful. As is knowing which areas require more attention.

Different Types of Online English Courses and Their Benefits

You might be thinking isn’t an English course just an English course?

Online English courses do have one thing in common—they teach English. However, the range between content, style, approach, systems and methods is pretty big!

Depending on where you take your online English course might also change the learning style and content.

Because of this, we’re going to discuss all the different types and styles of English classes on offer.

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)

MOOCs are essentially giant platforms offering access to online courses in pretty much anything. These courses are often taught by professors or highly regarded professionals in a particular field.

The courses commonly follow a lecture-style approach, as they are taken from university classes and shared on these platforms.

Because of the “open” style nature of MOOCs, you will have no problem finding an English course in very specific areas such as business English or English specific to a particular region (like British English or American English). In addition to this, many offer a wide selection of more general style courses such as basics or intermediate English courses.

You’ll find many of these are affordable English online courses. They’re a great way to upskill (learn new skills) with quality content that is usually free!

University Courses

Similar to MOOCs, online university webpages are a great way to find specific courses with a focus on jobs and employment.

For example, with an online university English course, you will have no trouble finding academic English courses that you can take online.

Again these will generally follow an open “lecture style” teaching method along with slides and online exams or tests.

Immersion Software Programs

One of the best ways to learn a language naturally is through immersion. This is where you increase the input of your English learning as much as possible.

Thanks to a wide array of online options, there are many ways to effectively learn English through immersion.

One of the best ways to increase your language immersion is with English speaking courses that will give you a deep understanding of how the language is used. Another great way to increase your English immersion is with powerful intensive English courses, as they tend to focus on high levels of content and information.

However, one of the top overall resources for English immersion is the FluentU English program, which turns modern and entertaining English videos into personalized English lessons.

You’ll be able to stay up to date with the latest trends, learn exciting vocabulary and naturally spoken English as well as review your learning with interactive quizzes and flashcards.

It’s one of the best ways to achieve a native immersive experience from the comfort of your own home in a course style. Plus, all videos are leveled, meaning you can choose appropriate resources for your goals.

Additionally, even the way you learn new words is through immersion. When you want to learn a new word, search for it in FluentU’s video-based dictionary. After searching the word, you’ll get the definition, example sentences and a collection of videos that use the word in-context.

You can try FluentU for absolutely free by signing up for a free trial.

Websites and Apps

There are additional opportunities to study English with apps and websites. There are many famous language apps that teach multiple languages, or you can choose an app that specifically teaches English only.

Some resources—especially websites and apps—may not be as structured or complete as online English courses. Because of this, they work best as an additional resource for your English course.

That being said, they are definitely a convenient way to learn and will generally increase in difficulty as you progress.

One-on-one Classes

If you’re after a fully personalized study course, then you can have an online English teacher organize this for you. This is a more independent style of learning and will be specific to your learning needs and goals.

It’s a two-step process. The first step is to find an English tutor online that can help you.

Once you’ve found the perfect online English teacher, the second step is to collaborate (work together) on creating a course that will benefit you the most.

Be honest about what you want to achieve, what your weaknesses are and what types of resources you’d like to use.

A one-on-one English class is a great way to focus on specific areas of English as well as maintain a more flexible learning style.

If you’re not sure where to start, you can always begin with your English coursebook and use this as a basis for your learning. Ask your tutor to help you work through the lessons, and practice what you learned with him or her.

Online Speaking Courses

If you find that your English speaking skills are lacking, you can always take an English course for speaking.

You can begin by examining the number of different resources available in this ultimate guide to online speaking classes.

If you are new to English, no problem! You can take some basic English conversation courses to help you talk more confidently and clearly.

Now that we’ve examined all the different styles of English courses, we are left with only one question.

Where can we find an English course?

Well, let’s take a look below!

Where to Find the Perfect Online English Course

There is a paradox known as the paradox of choice. This means that sometimes it is more difficult to make a decision when there are too many options to choose from than when there are not enough.

The reason I mention this is because there are many different English courses available online today, so there is a lot for you to choose from.

That being said, this can also be used to your advantage. This means that there is the perfect English course out there for you somewhere! You just need to know where to find it.

Because of this, we’re going to look at some of the top tips for knowing where to find the perfect online English course so you can take your English skills through the roof (to a high level).

Coursera

online english courses

Coursera is a website that offers tons of MOOCs. It has a huge database of courses available that are entirely free. You can search for specific courses related to anything from English communication to business English skills.

It is a very user-friendly website, with many courses coming from both local and international universities. Simply use the search function to find the course you want.

Coursera also follows a timeframe of learning outcomes in the same way as a university course, so it’s easy to measure your progress and stay on track.

FluentU

The FluentU English learning course is unique. Unlike other courses that follow a more structured system, the FluentU program learns with you. This means you won’t be left behind if you’re stuck on a particular problem.

The FluentU program is considered a course for several reasons. Firstly, it is appropriately leveled and follows a logical structure, which increases in difficulty. Secondly, there are many ways to test your knowledge with interactive quizzes and vocabulary summaries.

Finally, it’s a great course because it helps you improve many English skills—vocabulary, listening, grammar and even reading.

Plus, it is one of the only courses available that regularly updates material with native content.

Udemy

online english courses

Udemy also offers many MOOCs, but it is slightly different than Coursera.

Udemy has a similarly large selection of English learning courses available to students. However, the courses are commonly created by private individuals, such as English teachers or education workers.

Because of this, the courses are not free and you must purchase them to gain access. Once you have purchased the course, it is yours and you are free to follow it at whatever pace you believe is best.

Edx

online english courses

Edx also offers great MOOCs for free. In a similar way to Coursera, you can search the database of courses related to all topics of English learning. The courses are made up of university resources and when you complete the course, you can choose to pay for a certificate.

There are opportunities to study conversational English or even courses in specific areas like business and email writing.

University and School Webpages

Many universities have caught on to the MOOC trend. This means that you can often find English courses at many universities across North America and the world.

As one example, you can have access to courses from institutions like Yale through the Open Yale program.

You can either find a specific university and search if they offer online courses or find a database and search for a course that you want to find.

Blogs and Websites

There are many blogs and websites offering easy and free ways to practice English online.

These may not be as structured as a traditional English course but generally, you will be able to find materials that cover a different level for each learner. Websites such as BBC English and the British Council are always top websites for learners looking for courses and materials.

Take a look at some of these top websites to learn English. This will point you towards some great blogs and websites that offer course-style learning.

Can You Take an Online Course for Free?

Yes, it is entirely possible to find free online English courses! In fact, we have already looked at a few possible options for learning English with a free resource above.

This is a great option for a learner who is on a tight budget or is not sure if they are ready to commit to learning English just yet.

In addition to this, online English courses are a great way to supplement other ways of learning. You can take them at any time and go at the speed that you wish. Either way, learning English online with a digital class is a fantastic method to add some structure to your English study.

To find the perfect English course for free, here are a few tips:

  • Check MOOC and open source websites. As we’ve previously discussed, sites such as Coursera or Edx are free for you to access. These are two of the most common open resource platforms for you to explore and use.
  • Search through lesson websites. Many major English teaching companies offer free English lessons for all levels. Websites like BBC English or the British council have fantastic resources that follow a syllabus or a more structured style of learning.
  • Check blogs and review websites. You can also find courses through blogs and review websites where people write about their experiences using them. You’ll find many list-style articles that offer breakdowns and summaries. One of the best resources is the FluentU English blog, which has many articles offering advice on taking English courses and where to find them. You can find everything from how to use a course to the best sites for taking free online English courses.

When to Take an Online English Course

Due to the variety, affordability and structure of English courses, you can take one at any time. In fact, you can start right now!

Whether this is to start studying from the very beginning or to study a particular skill, there are no real downsides to making this decision.

If you have the time, you can even choose to take several courses at once.

There are courses for every learner. Beginner courses, intermediate English courses and advanced!

 

So what are you waiting for?

By taking an online English course, you’re putting yourself on the right path towards English fluency. No matter which stage you’re at in your English language journey, taking a great course will help you sharpen your skills and refocus your study.

If you’ve never thought about taking an English course before, now is the time!

If you liked this post, something tells me that you’ll love FluentU, the best way to learn English with real-world videos.

Experience English immersion online!



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