If you’re studying English as a second language, there’s a good chance that you want to expand your vocabulary. After all, the more words you know and feel comfortable with, the more natural you’ll sound when you speak and write.
But before you spend more money on books and courses, you should know that there is a wealth of free online vocabulary resources available to you. We’ve compiled the best ones for ESL students here.
Why is this free site good? First off, it’s designed specifically for ESL students. Secondly, there are dozens of vocabulary quizzes to choose from, so you’ll have plenty of content to master. And finally, the quizzes are neatly organized into useful categories such as “planning a trip,” “emotion and feelings,” “animals,” and “business,” so it’s easy for someone to find the kinds of words they want to learn.
This site might not look like much when you first arrive, but it can be both fun and useful for ESL students looking to improve their English vocabulary—especially if you’re the type of person who has trouble taking written quiz after written quiz. You won’t find that here. What you will find are tons of free Flash games designed to help you learn new words and gain a clearer understanding of words and phrases you think you already know. Their Slang Game is particularly helpful in learning idioms, and their Crosswords games teach both vocabulary and spelling.
Most people probably don’t think of this as an ESL website, but when it comes to teaching vocabulary, it’s hard to beat. You can look up any word in English to learn what it means and even get a list of synonyms and antonyms. Additionally, there are fun features like the Word of the Day, which can be emailed to you, and WordDynamo, a fantastic game that lets you choose your level of education and then gives you words to define based on that. Because it’s not specifically made for ESL learners, you would be wise to choose a lower educational level to start if you don’t want to be asked to define obscure words like “tegmen” or “roorback.”
As you might imagine from the name, this site is designed more with ESL teachers in mind than students. That doesn’t, however, mean that it’s not incredibly useful for you, though. How useful? How about more than 10,000 free vocabulary worksheets full of usefulness? To be fair, a number of them are meant for younger students, but there are still several sections that professionals will like, such as “business vocabulary,” “office,” and “modern technology.” Another bonus is that, while there are plenty of worksheets and quizzes for one person, you can also find group activities here.
ESL learners might find themselves intimidated by this site, and that’s understandable. After all, it was designed to help highly educated native English speakers improve their vocabulary, and many of the words can be specific and complicated. So why should you look at it to improve your vocabulary? Because they often pair vocabulary words with current events and news of the day, which can help you understand what the people around you are discussing and join in the conversation.