Students, here’s how you can learn English for free

to learn english
The best way to learn English is by speaking to other learners. Source: Lindsey Parnaby / AFP

To learn English is to master the most widely spoken language in the world. You’ll join a congregation of 1.35 billion speakers — roughly 17% of the world’s population. 

Because of this, it’s all the more important for international students to have a strong grasp of the language. Most programmes around the world are taught in English, especially those in the best universities in the world. Others in non-English speaking countries are usually taught partly in the language. 

More than that, technology has helped open the world up — now more than ever before. Everything from pop culture references to business is in the English language to some degree. In this sense, having some familiarity with English will help you understand what is happening in the wider world. 

Fortunately, access to the internet has made for many new opportunities to learn English. Here are some of the easiest (and free!) ways to do so:

4 free ways to learn English

With language-learning apps, you can learn English anywhere, anytime. Source: David Gray/AFP

Use a language-learning app

If you’re reading this, chances are you have a smartphone. This makes it easy for you to download language-learning apps. These are designed to help you pick up on any language wherever you are, making it easy for you to learn anytime and any place. 

Get daily or weekly lesson plans to learn English. These will guide you through phonetics (the study of human sounds) and pronunciation (the way in which a word is said), reading and writing, and common phrases. 

You can choose to learn English through popular apps like Duolingo, which provides an English proficiency test accepted by universities worldwide. Others include Hello English, Lingbe and Memrise

Read, read and read

One of the best ways to learn a language is to immerse yourself in it. A great way to do this? Read in English as much as you can. 

Luckily, you have many options to choose from. Try reading stories like “Fantastic Mr Fox” by Roald Dahl and “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” by JK Rowling. 

If this isn’t your cup of tea, you can always read more factual stuff.  Many English books can be found online for free at Project Gutenberg and Open Library

Looking for something shorter to read? Try e-magazines or online newspapers. You can read short articles on anything and everything, from the latest iPhone to what Kim Kardashian is wearing. 

You can access books, movies and music online for free to learn English. Source: Philippe Lopez/AFP

Listen to English songs and movies

We all listen to music. This makes it one of the best ways to learn English every day. 

Switch out your usual playlist for an English-based one. Many can be found all over Spotify or YouTube, sung by the most popular artists of today. Even non-English speaking artists tend to release songs in the language — just look at K-pop groups BLACKPINK and BTS

Movies and TV shows are great ways to learn English, as well. Hollywood’s biggest films are all in  English — there are many for you to choose from. Not able to follow along? Turn on subtitles in your language to help with that. 

Communicate with other English learners

The best way to learn is by doing — which is why you should always aim to talk to other English speakers. Find English speakers who are also familiar with your language, so that you can switch between both whilst you’re still learning. 

Outside of that, you can speak to other students who are learning English, as well. They are likely to speak more slowly with more emphasis on how they say things, which in turn can help you to pick up the language.