English is essentially bad Dutch with outrageously pronounced French and Latin vocabulary.Eugene Holman (in John Cowan's Essentialist Explanations)
English is a West Germanic language, a subdivision of the Germanic languages that also includes German, Dutch, Afrikaans and Yiddish. This page focuses mostly on British English.
Why learn English? See Manuel Practices His English (YouTube).
YouTube Channels and Websites for Learning or Improving Your English
YouTube has many channels that offer English lessons. The list below only contains channels by native speakers of British English. Wherever possible, the description also says where the teachers come from, because that typically affects the accent they use in their videos.
Learning English is a YouTube channel with videos for the
BBC Learning English
website. The website offers courses on various levels:
and various other courses such as
The YouTube channel has many playlists, for example, basic pronunciation, pronunciation tips, practical "how-to" videos for every-day situations, grammar, vocabulary and much more. The videos are short; the longest ones are just over 6 minutes long.
- British Council: Apprendre l'anglais en ligne.
- BBC: Learning English.
- Anglo-Link and the website www.anglo-link.com by “Minoo” cover most aspect of the English language: pronunciation, grammar, vocabulary, conversation (including telephoning). The playlists and the website's video lessons section can help you find videos that cover specific areas.
is a YouTube channel but primarily a list of related YouTube channels for
learning English. Each channel has a different teacher.
Only some of the teachers on engVid.com are British,
while most are American, so you should choose your channel(s) based on
the variant of English you want to improve.
You can also go to
engVid.com, a site with free video lessons.
is a channel by Jade Joddle, who is from South London.
Jade's videos are subtitled and cover pronunciation, conversation,
grammar (including a series of videos about common mistakes), grammar and culture.
For an example video about culuture, see
Manners & How to be polite (27 minutes).
Jade Joddle also hosts the channel Jade Joddle, which was originally called “Introverts by Jade” and which is only partly about introversion and shyness. The channel actually contains many videos about pronunciation, accents, voice training and conversation skills.
- Benjamin's English Classes is also part of the engVid.com “family”. The video lessons cover vocabulary, grammar, pronunciation and conversation skills. The videos are fully subtitled.
- Learn English with Gill is a relatively recent (2015) addition to engVid.com. These videos are spoken more slowly than those in most other channels and are fully subtitled.
- For American English, you can go to the following engVid channels: English Lessons with Alex, Learn English with Rebecca, Learn English with Valen - Basic English lessons by ValenESL and EnglishLessons4U - Learn English with Ronnie!.
- For Canadian English, you can go to the following engVid channels: Learn English with Emma, JamesESL English Lessons, English Lessons with Adam - Learn English with Adam and English Teacher Jon. (The differences between American and Canadian English are negligible for most purposes.)
- English Jade is a channel by Jade Joddle, who is from South London. Jade's videos are subtitled and cover pronunciation, conversation, grammar (including a series of videos about common mistakes), grammar and culture. For an example video about culuture, see Manners & How to be polite (27 minutes).
- The channel Learn British English Free and the website Learn British English are resources by Chris, a native speaker from the south of England. The YouTube channel contains several playlists with videos about pronunciation and accent, and a number of other free lessons. Chris also offers Skype lessons (for which you need to pay) and his website has a members' area that you can access after registering on the site.
is a channel by Dave Nichols, an English teacher from the suburbs of London.
of playlists helps you find videos on specific topics, e.g.
most common mistakes in English (over 40 videos),
Dave's videos are not subtitled, not even those for beginners.
There is even a playlist about Ancient Greek philosophy. These videos are obviously not about English, but you can use them for listening practice. (These videos are not subtitled.)
is not really a channel for learning English: it is a collection of videos
explaining British culture, including linguistic aspects such as vocabulary
and pronunciation, to Americans
The channel was started by
and is now continued by
Examples of videos that cover language include How to Speak British (Episode 7), How to Pronounce UK Place Names (Episode 23), Brits vs. Americans: Clothing Words (Episode 26), Your Guide to the Latest British Slang (Episode 33) and Dating Talk in the U.K. (Episode 34).
British Council - Learn English
is a channel with many useful
some of them are about grammar, while other focus on language and culture.
The British Council's
LearnEnglish website is also worth a visit.
The British Council also has a channel about teaching English.
- Real English with Real Teachers is a YouTube channel with playlists covering, for example, A–Z Idiomatic Expressions, Debating in English and London interviews. The channel is maintained by Harry and Charly, two professional English teachers from London. See their websites CB English Tuition and Learn English with Harry Giles.
- Eat Sleep Dream English is a YouTube channel started in early 2016 by a certain Tom from the UK. The channel's playlists include the following: English Lessons with Tom (more than 80 videos), British English Essentials, Tom's English Tips, Sound Like A Native Pronunciation Masterclass, British English Expressions, Grammar Time and My Guides to London.
Crown Academy of English
is the YouTube channel of Andrew, a British citizen born in Manchester.
The channel has playlist with videos about English grammar, English vocabulary and
See also the Crown Academy of English blog.
- Oxford Online English is the YouTube channel of an online English language school. The school creates new videos on a weekly basis.
- English with Lucy is a YouTube channel by Lucy, an English teacher from the UK. She also has an Instagram account.
is a channel by a native teacher of British English named Elliott Giles.
Elliott describes his own accent as
a standard Southern accent with a slight West Country twang. His channel has playlists such as British English Pronunciation Lessons, Conversation Skills, English Lessons (over 25 videos), IELTS Exam and Listen To Me Talk About Anything. He also has videos related to manners, for example How To Apologise - Most Common British Words (5 minutes) and British Manners (7 minutes).
The website ETJ English contains video lessons and allows you to book Skype lessons with Elliott.
- Amigos Ingleses is a YouTube channel by Phillip (a native speaker of English) and Isabel (a native speaker of Spanish). As the channel's name suggests, Phillip and Isabel help native speakers of Spanish learn English. The channel has many videos, and playlists such as Como mejorar la pronunciacion en ingles (improving your pronunciation), Confusing words, Curso de vocabulario en ingés (vocabulary; over 20 videos), Travel and Gramática Inglesa Más Fácil (grammar). The videos use both English and Spanish; some have subtitles in Spanish. (They also have a website, which is also called Amigos Ingleses.)
- mmmEnglish and the mmmEnglish YouTube channel are maintained by Emma, an Australian “confidence coach”. She also has a blog about learning English.
YouTube channel Christian, who is from Australia but lives in Galicia in Spain, where he teaches English.
The channel has a number of channels, such as
IELTS exam preparation.
introduction to the pronunciation course
Christian says that you will always have an accent, so the goal of the course is not to lose one's native accent but to make sure people understand your English.
Since Christian has lived in England for some time, his own pronunciation is a mix of British and Australian English.
The Canguro English website just lists pointers to accounts on YouTube, Twitter, Soundcloud, Instagram and Patreon; it contains no learning materials.
- Medical English: a commercial online course produced by English4Work in Stockholm, Sweden.
Business English Pod - Learn Business English:
a YouTube channel that focuses on business English. This channel is associated with the website
which offers commercial courses. The site says,
Business English Pod is aimed at intermediate and advanced English learners, with a TOEIC score of between 400 and 700 or CEF B1-C2. However, the lessons are designed to be useful to learners at a variety of levels. Lower and intermediate learners can focus more on language development, and advanced learners can concentrate on skills, fluency, and enhancement of professionalism.The company behind BusinessEnglishPod is based in Hong Kong.
is the YouTube channel of
LetThemTalk language school in Paris.
The videos focus on British English.
See for example the video 6 English Language HACKS that you DIDN'T LEARN at school by Gideon, the school's manager (12 minutes, 08.02.2018). The video does not discuss “hacks” as such but a number of vocabulary mistakes. Some of the questions are misleading, for example, when Gideon asks whether a certain sentence is grammatically correct and then says it isn't, pointing out a vocabulary mistakes.
Pronunciation and Accent
- Gabriel Wyner: Pronunciation Tutorial 1: English Pronunciation and IPA: Voicing and Place, Pronunciation Tutorial 2: English Pronunciation and IPA: Manner, Pronunciation Tutorial 2: English Vowels and the International Phonetic Alphabet. This is a short series of videos that teaches the basics of English pronunciation and the International Phonetic Alphabet IPA. The IPA is also useful when you learn other languages, since many dictionaries use it to describe the pronunciation of words.
- Pronunciation tips is a YouTube playlist with 6 short videos from BBC Learning English.
- British English Pronunciation is a playlist of 28 videos by Britlish - Linguaspectrum.
- Pronunciation Masterclass is a YouTube playlist with 18 videos on the channel “Learn English with Papa Teach Me”. The same channel also has the playlist The British accent! You know you want it!, which contains 14 videos focusing on the accent used in London, the short playlist Quick Pronunciation Lessons, and the video Be a NATIVE ENGLISH Speaker in 8 steps!! (13 minutes)
- 8 Tips for British English Pronunciation is a 16-minute video by Jade Joddle (February 2015). The tips are mainly for intermediate learners of English.
- How to sound like a native speaker - Word Stress is an 8-minute video on English word stress by Jade Joddle (January 2014).
- Sound like a native speaker: Advanced Pronunciation is a 20-minute video by Jade Joddle about commonly mispronounced words. (August 2014)
- English Pronunciation is a playlist of 9 videos, each of which focuses on a specific pronunciation problem.
- London School of English: English Pronunciation & Voice Training is a YouTube playlist with several videos on pronunciation, including videos with tips for native speakers of Italian, Russian, French, Japanese and Brazilian Portuguese.
- Master the British Accent is a YouTube playlist containing 22 videos by Chris Parker. Chris is a native speaker of British English who also teaches Standard Chinese.
- Gareth Jameson: How To Lose Your Native Accent (3 minutes, YouTube).
- Remedial Strategies for German EFL Learners: YouTube playlist consisting of 9 microlectures that cover common pronunciation problems encountered by native speakers of German.
- The London School of English: How good is your British accent and English Pronunciation? (11 minutes, YouTube): in spite of its title, this video is not about how to change your accent; it is actually a debate about why some people—both native and non-native speakers of English—want to change (or keep) their accent.
How I Got a British Accent + Top 10 Tips to Sound Like a Native English Speaker,
a 20-minute YouTube video by Ysis Lorenna, who originates from Brazil and originally learnt American English.
She moved to the UK almost 7 years before the video was made and married a Welshman.
See also her YouTube playlist Free English Lessons & Pronunciation Tips.
- 5 English Pronunciation Tricks EVERY English Student Should Be Using (Eat Sleep Dream English on YouTube, 14 minutes, 22.08.2017). This video focuses on the schwa, linking sounds (what phonologists call “liaisons”) and elision.
- English Pronunciation Roadmap: training to improve you British English pronunciation. See also English Pronunciation Roadmap on YouTube.
- Phonetics: The Sounds of American English.
- 'How to Speak English' App Nominated for Award, Kaplan Blog, 30.06.2014. Article about an app for iPhone and Android that helps learners improve their English pronunciation. Users can record their voice and compare their pronunciation to that of a native speaker.
- Word Stress Rules in English, Really Learn English (no date)
Stop Speaking Like An American
(Eat Sleep Dream English on YouTube, 7 minutes, 08.06.2018).
This video teaches a specific British accent, not the standard British accent. For example, “during” is here pronounced as
- Is there any online tool to read (pronounce) IPA and APA written words? This question was posted on English Language Stack Exchange in August 2015 and has several answers.
- British Accent Student Guide, Read & Speak English.
- toPhonetics: this web-based tool allows you to convert English text into IPA and have it read aloud.
- i2Speak: an online IPA keyboard.
- Jones, Daniel, et al:
Cambridge English Pronouncing Dictionary. 18th edition. Cambridge University Press, 2011.
This dictionary contains over 230,000 pronunciations of words, names and phrases.
Intonation and Rhythm
- Ashley Howard:
Intonation Patterns In English
(YouTube, 7 minutes, 25.2016).
This video explains the difference between
(traditionally used in British English) and
See also the playlist Intonation Patterns In English on the same YouTube channel.
- Amazing secret of English rhythm is a 9-minute video by Jade Joddle that explains the rhythm of British English (iambic pentameter).
- Lynn Gallacher (British Council, Spain): English sentence stress, Teaching English (British Council & BBC 19.07.2004).
- Steve Darn: Rhythm, Teaching English (British Council & BBC 04.04.2007).
- Marta J. Sabbadini (British Council, Cameroon): Intonation, Teaching English (British Council & BBC 16.03.2006).
- Sarah Tolle: Feel the Rhythm of English and Improve Your Pronunciation!, Fluent U English blog, September 2017.
- How to Improve Intonation? (a question on English Language Learners Stack Exchange).
You may be wondering about my accent. Of course, technically, I don't have an accent. I'm from England, this is just how things sound when they're pronounced properly. English stand-up comedian Jimmy Carr during a gig in Montreal in 2003
- British English accent training lessons is a playlist with 48 videos from the channel Learn British English Free.
- Sounds British is a channel with videos about the British English accent. (See the playlist.)
- What is the best English accent for you to learn? is a five-minute video from the YouTube channel Doing English with Julian. The background is a story about a Chinese learner English in Australia who experienced strange reactions to his English because he spoke with a perfect upper-class British accent. The accent caused a disconnect with his (Chinese) identity.
- Francesca Gordon-Smith: How to SOUND Like a Native British Speaker: Part 1 (there is no part 2).
- Francesca Gordon-Smith: How to Dramatically Reduce Your Accent: Resonance Part 1 (7 minutes) and How to Significantly Reduce Your Accent: Resonance Part 2 (9 minutes).
- Mastering the British Accent - Best Tip Ever!!! is a three-minute video from the channel Introverts by Jade (September 2015). It is a humorous teaser for the course Learn the British Accent.
- The YouTube channel of the London Centre of Spoken English also contains a number of videos on accent. See also the resources on their website.
- The Intrusive /r/ and Linking /r/ - British English Pronunciation & Connected Speech is a 9-minute video on the YouTube channel ETJ English (21.12.2017).
Top 5 British Accent Secrets | Learn British Pronunciation
is an 11-minute video on the YouTube channel ETJ English (06.07.2019)
that gives a number of useful tips. Of course, there are more than five “secrets”,
but this video is a start. The tips are the following.
First, use British vocabulary instead of American vocabulary (for example, “rubbish” instead of “trash”).
Second, pronounce the ‘t’ as an aspirated ‘t’ (not as a ‘d’), especially between vowels inside words or between words.
Third, correctly pronounce the ‘r’, i.e. only if it is followed by a vowel.
Fourth, the schwa sound is everywhere.
Fifth, you need to get the
/o/sound right because of differences with American English pronunciation. (Of course, you also need to learn about diphthongs.)
- Learn British English Pronunciation With Just One Sentence is a 9-minute video on the YouTube channel ETJ English (06.04.2019) that focuses mainly on weak forms, stress and intonation.
Improve Your Accent With This Sentence | British English Lesson
is a 14-minute video on the YouTube channel ETJ English (08.06.2019)
that focuses on connected speech (especially the intrusive
/j/, e.g. in “picked me up”), weak forms (e.g. in “from the”), linking (e.g. in “because I”), intonation, vowels and diphthongs.
Humour related to pronunciation:
- Comedy for ELT - Pronunciation Problems (The Sheikh in the Grocery Store from The Two Ronnies, 1985).
- Four candles.
- Tickle Your Botty With a Feather Tonight.
London & Cockney
- Northern vs Southern Accents & British Accents: Northern vs Southern (part 2): 2 videos (7 and 8 minutes, respectively) by Anna (British English Pro), who is from the north of England (Manchester), and Lucy (English with Lucy), who is from the south of England. The video compares a northern with a standard British accent; the second video compares a northern with a southern accent.
- Learn English with Papa Teach Me: Learn the Cockney accent with Jason Statham (YouTube, 7 minutes)
- How to Speak Cockney (Anglophenia Ep 36 (6 minutes, YouTube): Cockney is not simple an accent; this video is about Cockney rhyming slang.
- Jade Joddle: How to do a glottal stop - Estuary & Cockney Pronunciation (YouTube, 7 minutes): this video about a feature of Estuary English — Jade's accent — that is not part of Standard English: the glottal stop.
- TimesTalks (The New York Times): Michael Caine: An Accent That Broke Class Barriers (2 minutes, YouTube): excerpt from an interview with British actor Michael Caine, who kept his native Cockney accent.
Scottish English Accents
- Gareth Jameson: How To Have A Scottish Accent (3 minutes, YouTube).
- Murray Orr: How to Speak Scottish! (6 minutes, YouTube).
- British (Scottish) Accents: GLASGOW / GLASWEGIAN (English Like A Native on YouTube, 10 minutes, 16.08.2017). This video explains the differences between a “standard” British accent and a Glaswegian Scottish accent. The samples of Glaswegian accent are spoken by Stephen, who is from Glasgow.
- The Scottish Accent Tag - Edinburgh Vs Glasgow (Shaun on YouTube, 6 minutes, 15.05.2017). Shaun is from Edinburgh but lived in London for five years and says he lost his hars Edinburgh accent over the years.
HOW TO DO A SCOTTISH ACCENT!
(BeautyCreep on YouTube, 9 minutes, 23.06.2016) and
SCOTTISH ACCENT TIPS! - HOW TO DO A SCOTTISH ACCENT PART 2
(BeautyCreep on YouTube, 9 minutes, 05.04.2018).
These videos focus on the Aberdeenshire accent from the West of Scotland. They are part of a long playlist about Scotland.
- Learn English with Gill: Learn British accents and dialects – Cockney, RP, Northern, and more! (24 minutes, YouTube).
- Harrison Fletcher: The Yorkshire Accent (3 minutes, YouTube) and Things That Only People from Yorkshire Will Understand (4 minutes, YouTube).
- The actor Sean Bean is well-known for having preserved his Yorkshire accent. See for example the playlist Yorkshire Accent - Sean Bean.
- AccentBase.com Liverpool "Scouse" Accent (Male) (1 minute, YouTube) and Liverpool Accent: Scouse (Male) (2 minutes, YouTube).
- Kevin Dewsbury: Acting Masterclass - Liverpool accent (3 minutes, YouTube). Kevin Dewsbury is not an authentic Scouser.
- Jade Joddle and Perdita Lawton: Scouse Accent Fun (3 minutes, YouTube). (Some comments about Perdita Lawton's imitation of the Scouse accent are negative.)
- The Foreigner's Guide to Irish Accents (3 minutes, YouTube).
- Niall Tóibín: Irish regional accents (5 minutes, YouTube).
- Gareth Jameson: How To Do An Irish Accent (3 minutes, YouTube; some comments criticise this video).
- People have also commented on the accents in the television series Game of Thrones, but there aren't many useful YouTube videos about them yet. For example, Baelish's Accents: Season 1 vs. Season 4 Game of Thrones just juxtaposes excerpts from two seasons without any analysis or discussion. (One commenter states that Petyr Baelish moved from a London accent in season 1 to his native Irish accent in season 4. Another commenter points out that Littlefinger often wears a mockingbird, so it shouldn't be surprising if his voice or accent changes depending on who he talks to.)
- How to get a clear accent is a 6-minute video by Jade Joddle about clarity of speech (March 2014). The video is not about how you should pronounce certain specific sounds but gives exercices for your tongue and voice.
- My Biggest Accent Secrets REVEALED! is an 8-minute video by Jade Joddle (October 2017) that gives several tips, including modelling.
- How to Become an Accent Expert is a 4-minute video by Jade Joddle (October 2017).
- Francesca Gordon-Smith:
How to Speak More CLEARLY: Quick and Easy Strategies:
a 10-minute video with exercises for a clearer pronuncation (published in July 2014).
See also Daily Elocution Exercises: to warm up the muscles in the mouth (8 minutes; September 2012) and Clear Speech: 6 Greatest Mistakes (9 minutes, September 2014).
(Francesca also offers video courses through her website Positive Voice UK.)
Articulation: Speak with a Standard British English Accent
is a 5 minute YouTube video by Anna Tyrie (an actress who teaches standard English pronunciation)
with a set of warm-up exercises for your articulatory muscles.
(Anna Tyrie also recorded a
partial reading of the poem “The Chaos”
by the Dutchman
Gerard Nolst Trenité.
See also British English Pronunciation, a site with pronunciation courses for learners of English, and English Like a Native, a site with forums, courses, a blog and other resources for learners of English.
- Speak as clearly as an actor is a 14-minute video from the channel Benjamin's English Classes (engVid). It describes and demonstrates some warm-up exercices used by actors.
- Warm ups is a playlist of 4 short videos that focus on articulation. The videos are part of the channel Anna's British English, which focuses almost exclusively on pronunciation.
- Articulation Excersises is a playlist of 9 videos from the same channel.
- Francesca Gordon-Smith: Daily Elocution Exercises: to warm up the muscles in the mouth, an eight-minute video.
- McLoughlin, Aoife: Podcasts to help English learners practise listening, British Council, 21.06.2016.
- Proper British English on the Streets of London - B2 Listening (YouTube, 4 minutes, 8 February 2017).
- 3 Reasons YOU Don't Understand Native English Speakers (Eat Sleep Dream English on YouTube, 7 minutes, 31.08.2018).
- English Jade: What grammar mistakes do native speakers make? (YouTube, 17 minutes) and Important! Grammar you think is wrong, but is right (YouTube, 9 minutes, about when you can use “had had”).
- The Internet Grammar of English: an online course in English grammar by UCL Survey of English Usage.
- Real Grammar: a series of blog posts with videos about grammar features that some people regard as bad grammar.
- Swan, Michael; Baker, David:
Grammar Scan: Diagnostic Tests for Practical English Usage.
Third edition. Oxford University Press, 2008.
(Entry in WorldCat.)
This book contains grammar tests that help learners identify weaknesses in their knowledge of English grammar. The exercises cover three levels: upper-intermediate, advanced and expert. There is also an answer key.
- Swan, Michael; Walter Catherine:
How English Works. Oxford University Press, 1997.
(Entry in WorldCat.)
This book is now out of print but can still be found in some libraries. It contains a diagnostic tests with an answer key that helps you determine your weak points in English grammar and tells you which units in the book to focus on. It is therefore well suited for self-study.
- English with Lucy: 10 Grammar Errors that Drive British People CRAZY (YouTube, 11 minutes, 10.04.2018).
- English with Lucy: DO NOT SAY CONTRACTIONS LIKE THIS! Pronounce and use them PROPERLY! (YouTube, 14 minutes, 17.07.2019).
How good is YOUR vocabulary? (only 1% pass this test!)
(English with Lucie, 8 minutes, 28.11.2018).
Lucy posted a “vocabulary test” for the subscribers to her channel. Out of over 600 respondents, only 9 people managed to get over 70%, one person got 90% and one person got 100%. 465 people got between 0 and 1. However, the test in the video turns out to be about the correct spelling of 10 words and names: Fahrenheit, calendar, vacuum, accommodate, definitely, cemetery, pavilion, tongue, Caribbean and embarrassing.
- G. Nolst Trenité: English Pronunciation: a (longish) poem that illustrates the irregularity of English spelling.
- Phrasalstein: an app for learning phrasal verbs, published by Cambridge University Press. (Spanish version of the site.)
- The Phrasal Verbs Machine: a free app for learning phrasal verbs, published by Cambridge University Press.
- British Council: English Grammar: Phrasal Verbs.
- British Council: Shakespeare's idioms: Lesson 1 (2015).
- Cambridge University Press: YouTube videos about idioms.
- Ryan Sitzman: Listen to Idioms: 20 Useful English Idioms Found in Music, FluentU blog (no date).
- Kenneth Beare: Collocation Examples For English Learners, ThoughtCo., 31.05.2017.
- Kenneth Beare: Using a Collocation Dictionary to Improve Your English, ThoughtCo., 28.04.2016.
- Elena Shvidko: Learning Collocations for Effective Writing, TESOL blog, 09.12.2016.
- 10 Very British Nouns (Eat Sleep Dream English on YouTube, 11 minutes, 26.01.2018). Explains the following (informal or slang) nouns: mate, a do, the loo, the old bill, a cuppa, a brew, a bloke, a quid, a fiver, a tenner, banter, Londoner, Scouser, Brummy, Mancunian, a southerner, a northener, Glaswegian, a fag, a Sunday roast.
- 10 Polite English Expressions | Euphemisms (Eat Sleep Dream English on YouTube, 9 minutes, 30.01.2018). Explains the following phrases: to pass away, economical with the truth, the little boys' room, the ladies' room, to be (in) between jobs, the birds and the bees, to let someone go, to put an animal down / to sleep, on the streets, a few sandwiches short of a picnic.
5 Ways to INSTANTLY Sound Like a NATIVE SPEAKER (British English)
(LetThemTalkTV on YouTube, 10 minutes, 21.09.2017).
This video gives types about (1) using may and might, (2) have got and haven't got (for possession, especially in questions), (3) alternatives to “much”, “many” and “a lot of” (for example, “a great deal”, “a large number” and “a large amount”), (4) alternatives to “very” by using understatement (for example, “fairly”, “rather”, “pretty” and “quite”) and (5) alternatives to “thank you” (for example, “cheers”).
In the comments on this video, someone using the name Anne Austing adds,
I'm a native English speaker and I slightly disagree about may/might. There are grammarians (grammar experts) who will give you a specific difference, but in everyday speech, here's my tip: always use "might" for possibility. Firstly, I don't agree with the percentage thing - for me, the percentage explanation is not accurate - I don't perceive any difference in possibility, percentage-wise, between "may" and "might". Instead, the difference to most native British English speakers' ears is that "may" sounds slightly posher, and because of that as a non-native speaker you will sound as if you are trying to be too correct, regardless of the grammatical situation, if you use it. "Might" always sounds comfortable/right/commonly done in spoken English for possible things. Disregard my advice here if your English accent is perfect, of course; in that case, you probably sound convincing whatever you say.
The video ends with a bonus tip about how to respond to the question, “Do you speak English?” Instead of saying, “Yes, I do”, you can say something suggesting how ridiculous the question is. For example, you can say, “I get by”, “I manage” or “Just a smattering”. (In the comments someone suggested, “Yes I do. Do you?”)
- Sullivan, K. D.:
A Cure for the Common Word. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2008. (220 pages)
This is a book that presents alternatives to a hundred overused words such as “bad”, “beautiful”, “begin”, “do”, “great”, “interesting”, “know”, “love”, “new”, “put”, “simple” and “well”.
Reading / Literature
News in Levels:
World News for Students of English. This is a website created by company in the Czech Republic. It provides news in English on three levels; levels 1 and 2 are the lowest levels, while news at level 3 is at the level of native speakers. The first time you visit the website, a simple test will pop up that tests your vocabulary. On the website, you can read articles to expand you vocabulary, you can listen to news (and pause the videos to repeat sentences), you can improve your writing skills by discussing news in the chat room, and you can talk about the news with people on the website's Skype section.
The website depends on donations and advertisements, so you will be requested to turn off your ad blockers (if you have any).
- Breaking News English:
Free English Lessons in 7 Levels.
- What books should I read to improve my English, a 10-minute YouTube video on the channel “English Lessons with Alex”. Alex talks about graded readers, then introduces a few vocabulary words from the books he recommended.
- ELL Leveled Reader Packs, Reading A — Z (commercial offering).
There are quite a few websites that provide book recommendations for learners of English. They usually don't take into account that learners may want to focus on a specific variety of English, typically either British English or American English. For this reason, the variety of English has been added to each title in the lists below.
10 Great and Easy English Books You Must Read,
Fluent U English Language and Culture Blog, 28.08.2014.
This article recommends the following books, all of which are appopriate for “young adult readers”: Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White (1952, American English, children's novel), Mieko and the Fifth Treasure by Eleanor Coerr (2003, Canadian or American English), The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton (1967, American English), The House On Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros (1984, American English), Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher (2007, American English), Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie (1904 (play), 1911 (novel), British English), The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemmingway (1951, American English), The Giver by Lois Lowry (1993, American English), Number the Stars by Lois Lowry (1989, American English), A Wrinkle In Time by Madeline L’engle (1962, American English).
9 Classic Novels for Students of English as a Foreign Language,
Oxford Royale Academy, 20.07.2015.
This article recommends the following books, without a special focus on young readers: Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen (1803 / 1817, British English, Jane Austen's shortest novel), Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck (1937, American English), Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (1818, British English), The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle (1902, British English), A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens (1843, British English), Animal Farm by George Orwell (1945, British English), The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde (1890, British English), Things Fall Apart by the Nigerian author Chinua Achebe (1959), Dubliners by James Joyce (1914, British English, short story collection).
6 Simple Novels and Short Stories for Learning to Read In English,
Kaplan International Blog, 27.02.2015.
This blog post recommends the following books: Danny the Champion of the World by Roald Dahl (1975, British English), Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White (1952, American English), The Happy Prince by Oscar Wilde (1888, British English), A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket (1999 – 2006, American English, series of books), The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame (1908, British English), The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemmingway (1951, American English).
- Zuzalak, Steffanie:
9 great novels to help improve your English,
Pearson English Blog, 03.09.2015.
This blog post recommends the following books: The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame (1908, British English), Lord of the Flies by William Golding (1954, British English), The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemmingway (1951, American English), Animal Farm by George Orwell (1945, British English), Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom (1997, American English), High Fidelity by Nick Hornby (1995, British English), The Giver by Lois Lowry (1993, American English), Fantastic Mr Fox by Roald Dahl (1974, British English), The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon (2003, British English).
- Harayda, Janice: Mitch Albom Writes at a 3rd Grade Reading Level, Stephen King at an 8th — The Reading Levels of Your Favorite Authors, One-Minute Book Reviews, 22.07.2009.
Also worth adding to the above lists:
- Girl with a Pearl Earring (1999) by the American-British author Tracy Chevalier. (The book was adapted into the film Girl with a Pearl Earring in 2003.)
The references below are mostly about writing at an advanced level.
- Heggie, Jen: Waging war on woolly writing at work. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2016. (174 pages). ISBN 978-1-5029-7769-4.
- Zinsser, William: On Writing Well. 30the anniversary edition. HarperCollins, 2016. ISBN 9780060891541 (paperback; also available as e-book and audio book).
- Publication Coach is the website of Daphne Gray-Grant. The website has a blog and you can subscribe to a newsletter. Daphne Gray-Grant also wrote the book Introducing 8½ Steps to Writing Faster, Better.
Write or Die
is a website and mobile app
which aims to eliminate writer's block by providing consequences for procrastination. You can set the number of words you want to write, and the application will start blinking or play annoying music when you stop writing for a certain amount of time. The goal is not to improve your writing but to make sure that you don't idle or get into “editing mode”.
- Kapitan, Alex: The Radical Copyeditor’s Style Guide for Writing About Transgender People, Radical Copyeditor, 31.08.2017.
Teaching English as a Second/Foreign Language
- British Council & BBC: TeachingEnglish.
- Teachit Languages: ELT archive.
- What are the best resources for teaching English as a second language?, discussion on Quora.
- TESOL International Association: professional association based in the USA.
- TEFL.net for Teachers of English.
- TESOL Asia
- TESOL Indonesia.
See also TESOL International Journal
- KOTESOL / KoreaTESOL:
The role of KOTESOL is to promote scholarship, disseminate information, and facilitate cross-cultural understanding among persons concerned with teaching and learning of English in Korea.
- Teachers College, Columbia University: Working Papers in TESOL and Applied Linguistics.
Teaching English in China can entail risks, since the Chinese Communist Part wants education to be patriotic.
- Harris, Dan: Teaching English In China: Be Careful, China Law Blog, 17.10.2014.
- Teaching English in China | How to Manage Large Classes | ESL China Advice | Classroom Management (Austin in China on YouTube, 6 minutes, 25.11.2017). Class sizes are big (30 to 70 students), you need to keep classes engaging, you can put students into groups of four to six people for assignments, create a seating chart with student names, you need to be very disciplined and keep track of what students are doing in order to provide individual marks and feedback, etcetera. The channel contains many other videos about teaching English in China.
- It's OKAY to be an English Teacher! (serpentza on YouTube, 10 minutes, 22.02.2019). The maker of this video does not teach English and made this video in Vietnam. Many (white) foreigners in China don't want to admit they teach English for two reasons: they are ashamed of admitting they are a language teacher and many don't do it legally (the requirements are very strict).
- Harris, Dan: Do NOT Teach English in China and Why EVERYONE Should Read This, China Law Blog, 19.06.2019.
- Should You Teach English in China? (China Uncensored on YouTube, 12 minutes, 23.09.2019).
English Language Learners
on StackExchange is
a question and answer site for speakers of other languages learning English. It's 100% free, no registration required.
- What should a language learner know about political correctness?
- Usage of 'quick' as adverb.
- Resources for learning English (Note that Stack Exchange generally does not like requests for resources.)
- English Language and Usage on StackExchange is another question and answer site, but mainly for people who already know English, especially native speakers. See for example the following questions:
- Real Vocabulary: a series of blog posts and videos about misconceptions about certain vocabulary questions.
- Wanted Adventure: English SWEAR WORDS Less Taboo in Germany?! (8 minutes, YouTube).
- Wierzbicka, Anna: Imprisoned in English: The Hazards of English as a Default Language. Oxford University Press, 2013. (304 pages) ISBN 9780199321506.
- Spellchecker.net: British English spell checker.
- 5 things to practice every day to improve your English communication skills (English with Lucy, 12 minutes, 27.02.2019). Lucy recommends the following: (1) following an audio soap-opera (e.g. the BBC's The Archers), (2) talking with native speakers every day (e.g. through italki), (3) setting yourself a daily word goal (a word diary can help), (4) writing a daily journal with a difference (for sentences using the words you learnt), (5) performing daily translations of subjects you are interested in (e.g. YouTube subtitles).
What to respond when someone is RUDE - Funny English Comebacks for Insults
(English with Lucy on YouTube, 9 minutes, 27.06.2019).
Some of the comments also contain good suggestions for comebacks.
For example, if someone calls you ugly, just say,
The last time I checked, I wasn't a mirror. If someone's really egoistic, you might say,
If I have to commit suicide, I will climb up your ego and jump to your IQ.
- DO NOT SAY 'GOODBYE!' - We DON'T say this anymore! Say instead: (English with Lucy on YouTube, 9 minutes, 06.07.2019). “Goodbye” is old-fashioned and formal. Casual alternatives include “bye”, “bye-bye” (a bit more cute), “see you later”, “see you soon”, “see ya” (very informal), “I'm heading off”, “I'm off”, “I need to make a move”. The last few phrases are usually preceded with “Right!” You can also say “I've got to get going”, “I must be going”, “Have a good one” and “Talk to you later”. Formal and professional alternatives include “Have a great day!” (USA), “Have a lovely day” (UK, more sincere) or “Take care” (or “You take care (now)”). To someone who is going on a journey, you can say “Have a safe journey”. More formal alternatives include “It was nice to see you”, “It was nice seeing you”. If you met a person for the firs time, you can say, “It was nice to meet you” or “It was lovely meeting you”. “Farewell” sounds posh and old-fashioned. I you would like someone to keep contact with you, you can say, “Stay in touch!”
- How To Understand Native English Speakers (ETJEnglish on YouTube, 6 minutes, 26.05.2016).
- The famouse house style guide, The Writer (no date).
A to Z - Style guide - Guidance,
Gov.UK, published on 23.02.2016, updated on 02.10.2018.
This guide details style, spelling and grammar conventions for content published on the Gov.UK website.
English language teaching (EFL, ESL):
- ELT Journals Online: list of English language teaching from around the world.
- The International Research Foundation for English Language Education (TIRF) (USA): Publications.
- EFL Magazine: as the name says, this is a magazine for teachers of English as a foreign language. The website also a long list of resources, an EFL directory, and links to many e-books. (The organisation that maintains the website is based in Japan.)
- The Tiny TEFL Teacher: site with resources for both students and teachers.
Learning English on your own (self study, autonomous learning):
- Kennedy, Alan: The Best Books for English as a Second Language (ESL) Self-Study, Flashlight Worthy (no date).
- How to learn English Alone (ETJEnglish on YouTube, 6 minutes, 14.05.2016): you can learn English on your own but you will still need someone to talk to in English.
Knowledge of English around the world:
Who speaks English?,
The Economist, 05.04.2011.
Article about a study by EF Education First on English proficiency around the world. The resulting EF English Proficiency Index (EPI) has been updated several times since 2011. See the EF EPI's official webpage.
- Endres, Helene: Studie in 60 Ländern: Studie in 60 Ländern, Der Spiegel, 05.11.2013.
Basic grammar links:
- Thomas A. Williams: Tense changes in indirect speech on Grammaring.
- Education First (EF): Tense Changes When Using Reported Speech.
English Language Tests
There are many organisations that offer English language tests and certificates. Many of these certificates focus on a specific goal, e.g. English for academic purposes, for business purposes or for international communication.
How to Choose your Certificate of Proficiency in English,
The Superprof Blog, 24.07.2017.
This blog post describes the following certificates: TOEFL, TOEIC and GMAT.
Applying for a UK visa: approved English language tests,
Gov.UK, 20.11.2013; last updated on 03.09.2018.
The document “Approved secure English language tests and test centres” mentions the following tests: Integrated Skills in English (ISIE), Graded Examinations in Spoken English (GESE), IELTS Life Skills and IELTS for UKVI.
Engelse examens vergelijken,
EF (no date).
This page (in Dutch) contains a table that compares the following English language certificates: IELTS, TOEIC, EF SET, TOEFL and the Cambridge exams.
International English Language Testing System (IELTS)
IELTS is an international standardised test of English as a foreign language.
- International English Language Testing System: article on Wikipedia.
- IELTS: the official website. See also the IELTS Official YouTube channel.
- British Council: British Council IELTS: YouTube channel with many videos, including a playlist with IELTS tips.
- IETLS Lessons: a YouTube playlist with more than 20 videos, part of the channel Learn English with Emma (American English).
- Talking About Your Hometown: IELTS Lesson (ETJEnglish on YouTube, 11 minutes, 02.11.2016).
- Talking About Jobs/Work: IELTS Speaking (ETJEnglish on YouTube, 15 minutes, 06.11.2016).
Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)
- Wirmer, Benedikt: TOEFL Erfahrungsbericht – Tipps zur Vorbereitung, bwir.de, 01.12.2017.
- Good Luck TOEFL: website created by LearnVid Education.
- The TOEFL® exam: webpage by Exam English Ltd.
Other resources related to tests and skill levels:
- Practice tests at C2 level, Exam English Ltd.
Varieties and History of English
There are many varieties of English. For information about varieties of English other than British English, see for example the following Wikipedia articles: American English, Canadian English, Australian English, New Zealand English, Irish English or Hiberno-English, Scottish English, Indian English, Pakistani English, Sri Lankan English (or Ceylonese English), International English, World Englishes, …
In 1943, the British Council produced a short documentary on the History of the English Language (just over 14 minutes long). It explains where the English language comes from and gives many examples of words borrowed from other languages. Since it was produced during World War II, there are a few instances of propaganda and anti-German bias in it. (There are also a few factual errors.)
- The Economist: Are Americans trashing the English language? (YouTube, 6 minutes, 23.11.2017).
- David Crystal:
The Future of Englishes
(YouTube, 40 minutes, 17.05.2015).
A talk recorded on 5 May 2015. The event was organised by
a unique club in Brussels for creative and forward thinking professionals, interested in new ideas and committed to making a difference.
- David Crystal: The Future of English (YouTube, 65 minutes, 09.12.2014): talk at the IELTS conference at the British Council, Prague, 2014.
- Clark, Joe: Organizing Our Marvellous Neighbours: How to Feel Good About Canadian English. A book about Canadian English spelling.
- Yann: How to Learn Scottish English, Superprof blog, 31.10.2018.
- A Walk In The English Countryside With My Sister | English Conversation Practice (Eat Sleep Dream English on YouTube, 12 minutes, 12.05.2017). The video is about childhood memories, e.g. about summer holidays spent in Broadstairs.
Expressions, phrases and manners:
- Common British English Expressions on the YouTube channel ETJ English (8 minutes).
- What British People REALLY MEAN with Joel & Lia (Eat Sleep Dream English on YouTube, 13 minutes, 12.12.2017). This is about the meaning of the following phrases: “That's not bad”, “Let's meet up soon” (which is an empty offer), “I'll bear it in mind” (which means the speaker isn't impressed by the idea), “I'd love to but …” (which is just a way of pretending that you would like to do something), “brave/interesting” (one of the worst compliments), “by the way” (typically introduces what the speaker wanted to say from the beginning).
- Being British: Joel & Lia is a YouTube channel about British culture, British accents and the English language. Joel and Lia live in London; a lot of their content is about differences between the UK and the USA.
- 10 Things NOT To Say To British People! (Joel & Lia on YouTube, 15 minutes, 27.05.2018). This video was inspired by Jessica Brown's article 14 things you should never say to a British person (01.08.2017) on Indy100. is about asking a Brit wether they know the queen, asking why British food is so bad (the British disagree), asking why British people eat beans on toast for breakfast, asking why the Brits like queuing so much (it's just a matter of being polite), asking why the Brits love drinking tea so much (many British people don't), asking why they are always being so polite to each other (it's mostly acting), asking why they have so many ways to say goodbye, asking why is everyone is so obsessed with Mary Berry (only Lia's grandmother, in fact), “but you said you were fine” (it's normal to say “I'm fine” when you're upset), and the word “moist”.
- Things Only BRITS Understand! (Joel & Lia on YouTube, 15 minutes, 28.06.2018). This video is about writing letters of complaint, standing on the left in an escalator (a cardinal sin, at least in London), telling the barber or the hairdresser's that you like your haircut (even if you hate it), nature progrms with Richard Attenborough (but not with any other narrator), excessively noisy people can be dealt with by just offering a stern look, the best man's speech at weddings (which is a very big deal), [strangers talking to you](https://youtu.be/s62T_sfE-ko?t=9m19s) (they would be suspect, especially on the tube or the bus), and walking in the same direction after saying goodbye (this is not done).
- David Pakman Show: What's Most Difficult About Learning English as a Second Language (YouTube, 5 minutes, 10.09.2017).
Some random funny videos:
- Henning Wehn Has Learnt To Speak Like A Londoner | Live at the Apollo, (BCC Comedy Greats on YouTube, 3 minutes, 15.09.2018).
- Steve wants a lock on the toilet: a funny monologue from the BBC series Coupling.
- Cushion rage: another funny monologue by Steve from the BBC series Coupling. For more scenes from this series, see the playlist Coupling on the BBC's YouTube channel.
- Americans Don't Understand English (Michael McIntyre) (The Jonathan Ross Show on YouTube, 3 minutes, 21.11.2015).
- Blackadder: scenes from the BBC series Blackadder.
- Fawlty: scenes from the famous BBC series with John Cleese. See for example Don't mention the war.
- The Office: scenes from another (in)famous BBC series.
- QI | What's 'Innuendo' in French? (BBC on YouTube, 5 minutes, 26.07.2014).