Shankar Ganesh

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Top ways to improve your English online

with 91 comments


Off topic.

You know, the web is a big place. There’s lots of information, but you just need the right tools to find them. You can learn a lot online, from how to tie a tie to how to make gadgets.

Likewise there are thousands of resources on the web that you can use to improve your English, here are a few of them that I’ve been using over years to brush up my language skills:

Online Dictionaries and Thesauri

Dictionary gives you free access to a feature rich online dictionary and a thesaurus to help you out when you can’t figure out what a word means to you. Plus, there are also other alternatives to try out like ‘The Free Dictionary’, etc.

And if you’re just a Google maniac like me, you can fetch the meaning of any word in an instant. Just type define: followed by a word in the Google search box. Press Enter, you get the definition of the word you typed from various sources. (Here’s an example).

If you want good pronunciation references, this site is for you. has a huge database – type in a word, and hear it instantly pronounced for you.

In case you don’t have an access to the internet on your PC, there are loads of offline dictionary software you can install on your computer and update your vocabulary once in a while.

Read News


My English Teachers always advise us to listen to news and read a lot of news everyday. If you’re bored to read news traditionally, there’s the web to the rescue. Hundreds of sites report on developments across the world, but usually people prefer BBC and CNN.

You can always pour get the latest news mailed to you everday, or even use RSS to keep yourself updated on the happenings.

Side by side, you can also learn a lot of new terms and words that’ll enrich your knowledge.

Listen to news, radio and podcasts

Listen to podcasts to improve english

Youtube is the latest craze, but Youtube isn’t just a repository of all the junk. It does have lots of good videos on education, and speech training. You can always go search and watch interesting ones.

The BBC also has one minute news updated every hour on its site. Besides special video coverage on specific news stories is also available for you to watch.

You can even listen to radio on the internet, streamed to your computer. You’ll find a lot of music centred radio stations, but surely there must be a few talking on useful stuff like education. iTunes is a good player supporting

Besides multimedia news and live radio, you also have something called Podcasts.

Education related podcasts are wide spread, there are always loads of free podcasts you can download and listen to on your computer or your portable device.

One of my favourites is the Grammar Girl podcast where the ‘Grammar Girl’ gives you English Grammar tips everday.

Just Vocabulary podcasts present synonyms, antonyms and example sentences in a short audio file for people who might be taking SAT, TOEFL and other such exams.

All these can help you improve your accent!

A Word a Day

Learn a word a day and improve your english!

Now, this is a very popular tradition. is one of the world’s most subscribed newsletters. Everday, the website features a word and you can get to know about its etymology, pronunciation and more.

The Yahoo website and the Merriam Webster Dictionary portal also have similar pages updated everday.

Read Blogs

Technorati - Millions of blogs

There are millions of blogs on the web, and if you’re just not interested in news controlled by mainstream media, you can always use some social bookmarking sites like, StumbleUpon etc to find blogs and sites based on your interest.

You can always use RSS to subscribe to a blog. Besides niche blogs, there are blogs like this one for example specifically focused on providing tips to improve your skills in writing. The BBC Learning English site also syndicates contents from blogs and provides you with a lot of useful tips.

Even the Oxford University Press has a very interesting blog here.

Blogs are varied, and each blogger has his own style of writing. You’ll get a lot of inspiration to write seeing their posts, this in turn will fuel your English skills and knowledge.

Play Games

Crosswords can help you improve your English

No, not the kind of action games people usually play.

I’m talking about something like Jumbles and Crosswords. If you can’t get enough of just one jumble puzzle everyday on your daily newspaper, fire up your browser and point to Hundreds of puzzles here that you can play online. Besides, you can also buy books filled with jumbles and more.

The more you play jumbles, the more you’ll improve.

Crosswords are not a scarcity either, check this or this website for interactive crosswords.

Take Quizzes

Take Quizzes to improve your English

Got enough nerve? Test your skills, your knowledge. The BBC Learning English website continuously updates its site with interesting quizzes.

More Quizzes to improve your English: English Club, Quizzes.


There are a plethora of communities and online forums that you can use to improve your english online and one thing that really caught my attention was EnglishCafe. This is how they explain themselves:

How to use the EC Toolbox from englishcafe on Vimeo.

Like the best Cafes around the world, EnglishCafe is an enclave for vibrant and respectful exchange of knowledge, ideas and entertainment. We value the diversity of people, the unique experiences they bring, and the cultures from which their voices rise.

English does not belong to any group of people. English is a language that is malleable enough for the entire world to use. For this reason, we can learn from each other and about each other through this language. We can indeed advance our careers with English knowledge and make ourselves more marketable in the global economy. It is with a spirit of openness and desire to understand that we built EnglishCafe. We invite you to come in, gain or share knowledge, and join in a world-wide conversation about words and culture.

Go check them out.

Grammar Resources

This is one special page that I should mention here, filled with 40+ links to popular pages that’ll help you improve your grammar skills.

Photo Credits: powerbooktrance, jaboney, richardholden, tamaleaver, seanomalone, st3f4n, leepro

Written by admin

December 21st, 2007 at 12:31 pm

Posted in fun

  • Haris

    Awesome tips buddy – stumbled! And that baby with the headphones is so cute…! :D

  • Ashwin

    It’s said that you are what you read. So true for many people.

    Good guide man! Thanks.

  • Srinivasan A Paul Joseph

    Hi Shankar,

    Really good information. Thanks for providing the details…

    I’ll tell you two more secrets. That’s the way I quickly learned English.

    Read lots of Story Books and Novels (Especially Harry Potter etc which are Basic English)
    Watch lots of Movies (Almost most of the Hollywood movies are very great than Indian movies)

    Both these ways are both fun and excellent tool to learn quick English… Particularly watching movies will dramatically improve your English Pronunciation and Vocabulary.


  • Shankar Ganesh

    @Haris: Glad you liked them :) Thanks for the bookmarking support!
    @Ashwin: You’re welcome, glad you found it good.
    @Srinivasan: Couldn’t agree more. Reading literature improves your vocabulary a lot. Pronunciation I rely on watching news. Not into movies yet ;)

  • kanak

    Excellent post. It would surely help me in improving my english and i was looking was an article like this. This guide will surely help many . dugg and stumbled :D .. keep up the good work

  • Keith Dsouza

    Great post buddy even for people who know English these resources will be quite useful. Dugg and Stumbled

  • K-IntheHouse

    Grea tips, Shankar! Watching movies and reading a lot books has helped me a lot!


  • Madhur Kapoor

    Awesome tips bro. I read a lot of books to imrpove my english.

  • tclian

    Great tips for people whose main language is not English but want to communicate using english. I think when you want to learn a language, you need to do 3 things: listen, read and speak. When you are able to master this techniques, then you will have no problem in writing too.

  • Thiru

    Your new blog design looks awesome.

  • Angrywaffles

    What is the name of that website in the read news screenshot that has all the headlines?

    Obviously it’s not BBC or CNN…I’ve been hunting for that site for a long time!

  • Shankar Ganesh

    @Kanak: Thanks buddy, glad you liked it :)
    @Keith: Thanks Keith.
    @K: Yeah you’re write. Watching and listening to news helps a lot for sure.
    @TClain: Absolutely true. If you need to improve your language skills, you need to listen, speak and read and also, write.
    @Thiru: Glad to hear that. Just switched.
    @Angrywaffles: Neither do I know. It looks like widgets to me.

  • Sue

    I’m a gringo (US native), and like a few said, novels still garden my usage and vocabulary. Good novels, that is. And they train your thoughts onto some very interesting supports. I’d keep away from pop garbage. It makes you sound like pop garbage.

  • Recliners

    I love quizzing too and feel quite chuffed when I get up to 50% correct answers of the BBC mastermind quizzes. :) Pity Mastermind was discontinued a while back though :(

  • Recliners

    Oh one more…. for those who want to improve their English vocabulary, sends to your email inbox a word everyday along with its meaning. For instance today’s word is bivouac, yesterday’s was procrastinate and so on. Its good fun to see how many you already know.

  • otto

    the news picture is running which is pretty nifty.

    What I would like to know though is why the posts author includes a picture but doesnt mention it…that reeks of stealing pictures from online (they are credited but that does not make it legitimate)

  • Logesh

    Hey Buddy, Good Post !

    In my life i have never used these stuffs even while i studied. :) I think here after these will help me to improve my English knowledge and also to write good english in my blogs. !

    Between My congratulations as you have gone to the Front Page of DIGG !

  • Zack

    Thanks a lot. I am an ESl student, those are the exact sources I need.


    cool…i like it…keep up the goodness buddy…

  • kaash, Ash & You

    Well, I really like and digg your post. Could you please tell me about more podcast or MP3 Audio resources.

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  • Alan

    Nice post, but the least you could do is credit the photos you use.

    Searching Flickr for “crossword” I found this one which is clearly licensed as Creative Commons, which means you can use it as long as it’s attributed. Not only that, but you actually copied them to your own blog instead of linking back to Flickr, which is basically theft.

    Maybe you could write a “Top ways to respect the creative work of others” post?

  • Shankar Ganesh

    @ALAN: I HAVE credited the photographers, you can see the links at the END OF THE POST.
    @Kaash: You can read more about podcasts here –
    @Techblissonline: Thanks
    @Zack: Glad to know that they prove useful for you.
    @Otto: Thanks for that piece of info, it’s cool you know.
    @Logesh: Thank you.
    @Recliners: Yourdictionary is good, but I’m now sticking to wordsmith and a few others.
    @Sue: LOL novels are indeed good to read.

  • aw

    So man, great article i came from digg :)

    I am a Chinese and I chose to started a blog in English.

    If you are interested in that, take a look at

    A very good domain ,isn’t that ?

    I am also a WebDeveloper and WordPress Geek, hiahia !

  • alis


    Can you please tell me what is the software or the news site, that we see on your laptop’s screen? I just did not manage to find it in your links.

    Thanks for sharing information with the rest of us…

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  • Will Oldham

    Good tips for learning any language. Some useful links also. Thank you.

  • Ralph

    How about a list of similar resources for learning Spanish?

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  • maru

    “Listen to news, radio and podcasts”
    Try this: – podcasts – news – radio

  • Natasha

    To work out (and test) your English vocabulary, I suggest using

  • alis

    Can any one tell me what is the software on the laptop’s screen above?

    (Which site or which reader?)

  • Gerard


    Nice article thanks.
    For English as a second Language, Gymglish ( is pretty good too; it is not free but I find it worth every euro.


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  • Ramkarthik

    Shankar, top notch article with all possible ways listed. I learned english offline and then came online to improve it. I remember following one of the above ways. And congrats on getting to the Digg front page. Have a great weekend. Merry Christmas and Happy New year.

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  • H. Lusuegro

    I use dns shortcuts by

    defi for
    def for
    mw for

    the “%s’ will be replaced by the word you want to be defined.


    If you type def ENGLISH in the address bar…

    Google will give you definitions of that word.

    This is very helpful for me when looking up meanings, I hope it helps all of you.

  • Aseem Kishore

    Since you mention, just thought I’d throw this in. It has a pretty cool feature(cheat sheet) called crossword solver. If you’re a crossword lover you may want to check this out, while improving your English. :)

  • Nirmal

    Great post Shankar! Good resources mentioned here.

  • Kumar.A.P.P

    This is really cool – Stumbled!

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  • Nicholas Francis

    hey! dude.. such an amazing post.. you have given beter tips than my English Teacher.. and totlay agree with Srinivasan paul joseph sir

  • Pallab

    Very nice article.

  • Recliners

    Merry Christmas!

  • Recliners

    And Happy new year too.

  • Jalaj

    I use google for the definitions.
    Thanks for the mention of I just subscribed it and hope to learn a lot of new words. I placed your post url for the referrer field while subscribing.

    The link on “offline dictionary software” is malformed and is giving out 404 page.

  • TechDune

    Ganesh :)
    Must admit…This was a killer post ..

  • ram

    Good post shankar, useful resources there

  • Shankar Ganesh

    @Aw: Glad to see people from your part of the world liking my article :)
    @Will: You’re welcome.
    @Alis: The app is here – (the credit goes to commenter ‘Otto’ who found it).
    @Maru: Great resources, thanks for sharing.
    @Gerard: Thanks for the info.
    @Ram Karthik: Thanks, and best wishes to you too.
    @Aseem: I never noticed those crossword puzzles. Thanks for the heads up, I’m going to check it out.
    @Nirmal: Thanks Nirmal, I’m really glad you guys liked it.
    @Kumar: Thanks for stumbling it.
    @Nicholas: Hehe glad you liked it.
    @Recliners: Thanks and same to you! Have fun.
    @Jalaj: Thanks for pointing it out, I’ve fixed it.
    @TechDune: Thanks man, thank you for the Digg support.
    @Pallab, Ram: Glad you liked it.

    To everyone, Happy New Year!

  • silki

    Wow, nice post, Shankar.
    Although I am late, but still could not refrain myself from praising this post.

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  • Syahid A.

    We all have our own ways do we? I learn a lot of vocabularies from playing games especially RPG! Planescape Torment and BG rocks!

    A friend of mine learns a lot by singing and remembering rap songs. :D

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  • Shashank

    nice article there ..stumbled
    Also Read comics online :)

  • rambhai

    and if you wanna screw your english and become a fast typer~~~join yahoo chat haha[:D]

  • Vinod

    Very well researched article. BM’d. Thank you.

  • Shankar Ganesh

    @Silki: Glad you liked it.
    @Syahid: That’s interesting. Games can also improve our English.. Hmm…
    @Shashank: That’s a nice tip :)
    @Rambhai: Haha :D
    @Vinod: Thanks for bookmarking it dude.

  • janusssunaj

    Thanks for this post. Nice ressources.

    Here is another ressource which might be useful for somebody learning English:

    It is a very nice podcast.


  • Bob Ritchie

    Taking part in forums for English-speakers learning your language is also a great help. You can both benefit from mutual learning and understand each other’s challenges.

  • Music Site

    Thank you for those advice, I am a translator also who work on english to my native language, but you know when you work as a translator you may need sometimes tools other than those and they cost a lot, when I say a lot, I mean really a lot, cause you know sometimes the same word would give different meaning in different sentences,

    I leaned the english through my earlier schools and then at my medical studies, but really the thing that really helped me alot was watching movies and listen to them, I am a really crazy about movies and watch them a lot, also I listen to some educational lesson on radio that might give me sometimes new information,

    Anyway, thank you for all this,

  • I search rapidshare

    This is a great post! BBC is a great way to get your English up to scratch because they speak clearly and pronounce word correctly.

  • clay

    Great tips! This would definitely help me improve my english.

  • Miracle Blade

    Nice post. I think listening to english radio is a good way of learning the language.

  • Terry Finley

    Wow. I’m impressed at the
    way you handled this topic.

  • Yana

    Thank you so many great links to learn from.

  • waltneisha short

    Thank you for the help i really learned something

  • avinash

    hi man your post is good man, this could help many students like me who aspire to write the competitive exams.n
    than x for the guidance.

  • John

    Very nice post, Thank you

  • mOOk

    More links for English learning:

    and the BBC has good stuff on its site too

    …oh, and yahoo answers is good practice

  • Jan

    I am the host of the Just Vocabulary Podcast. I live in Cape Town, but I am originally from the Netherlands. So I had to improve my vocabulary. I started this podcast 2 years ago to offer English as a Second language-students the SAT, GRE and TOEFL words in a short audio file with synonyms, antonyms and example sentences. ( We have quizzes, and other studytools.
    Would it be possible to add my podcast as a resource?

  • Shankar Ganesh

    @Jan: Thanks Jan, I’ve added your site to the post.

  • Ralph

    Very interesting post, for sure grammar is very important to be perfect if you want to improve your credibility online.

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  • George

    Thanks. it is very usefull info.

  • jaisankarj(சங்கர்)

    nice article. i want to learn english grammar. which website or book is suit for me.

  • John Touch

    Great post. Even as an English person some of those resources are invaluable. The picture of the boy with huge headphones on is a very nice touch.


  • Rajeev Bahree

    Dear Shri Ganesh,

    Hi! How are you?

    Thanks for all the information to improve English. Keep it up.



  • Nabeel

    Good topic dude. has a good dictionary also, pronunciation is provided too

    Any way, I liked your post :)

  • Farhan

    Dear sir/madam,

    i m learning english in my area institute i have a problem that how can i improve english speaking, listening and writing skills in myself can u give me some good tips for learning english give me some good advise for me i will wait for your early reply very soon.

    Best regards,

    Farhan Munawar

  • Saniya

    It’s an excellent post! Infact all your posts are well-written and more importantly informative.

  • Shankar Ganesh

    Thanks Sania, I’m glad you liked it.

    Good luck with your blogging adventure too!

    Rock on.

  • arman

    beAhYF fdv084y0v4t3cnfv593bv29vb

  • breeze

    Thanks a lot for your great post.I’m sure that your advises will be really useful for me.So,thank you again!!!

  • Sajir

    I’m an ESL student and I’ve been really enjoying listening to the free fun ESL podcasts at I think they are the best on the internet for learning English as a second language.

  • Cyrus Smith

    But me speak english good!! I no need to emprove!

  • http://n/a A21-James White

    It is very easy that we should learn English from internet. There are several of website available from which we get the maximum benefit in according to improve English.

    A21-James White

  • adidou

    I advice you to test for free those Cartoon English lessons for kids and adults:

    It’s funny and for beginners (including children)


  • Priya

    Good post and nice tips… :)

  • santosh

    thank u for given me this information

  • Kamile Ko

    These tips are really useful, but it helps to improve only informal language. I believe that working only on these ways may be even harmfull. I believe that only tips “a word day” and “quizes” may help to improve, but for me this method is the best one- ielts
    . try, I believe you will not regret.