Improve your English vocabulary with memes and quizzes

PROS: From TOEFL practice to phrasal verbs, Memrise offers a variety of courses with flashcards. Take courses created by other members or create your own course. Memrise has a scientific algorithm that interrupts your study flow and quizzes you on words and definitions. You can choose a picture (meme) or add your own to help you remember vocabulary. Memrise is free, but a paid account offers more activities.

CONS: Memrise doesn’t help much with other skills (speaking, reading, writing, listening). Vocabulary is about all you will learn from Memrise.


English Attack!

Learn English with videos and visuals

PROS: English Attack! offers fun, addictive English lessons that build your vocabulary and provide valuable listening and reading practice. If you want to improve your ability to read and listen to English, there’s hardly a better app. You can take a free trial, but the app requires a monthly subscription.

CONS: As with most apps, English Attack! doesn’t help you practice speaking! From an pedagogical standpoint, there are a lot of problems—the vocabulary definitions are too hard, advanced vocabulary is too easy. Some games crash or don’t work at all.

Nulu Languages

nulu languages

Learn English with the news!

Nulu Languages takes a common daily habit—reading the news and turns it into a highly effective tool to teach English and Spanish.

PROS:  Nulu is a more effective version of FluentU. Users can listen to or read short news articles in Business, Technology, Sports or Entertainment in 3 levels-Easy, Medium or Hard. Quizzes and instant translations ensure that you understand and remember the new words your learn.

CONS: While Nulu is highly effective, at $15 per month it’s easily replaceable with freebies like Bliu Bliu .



Learn English by listening to lectures and music videos!

FluentU offers language learning activities that include reading and listening to real-world content like TEDx talks and music videos.

PROS: Users can choose content in their level and subject of interest, take quizzes and hover over difficult words to see translations.

CONS: As with most language learning sites, FluentU leaves out speaking skills. In addition, the product has many flaws – namely the leveling aspect  – vocabulary words are often too easy or  hard for the target level.

Read a more detailed academic review on ELTJam.



Learn English while virtually traveling around the world

Tripppin offers web-based English lessons via two brothers Tripp and Pin who take you on a voyage around the world.

PROS: Tripppin is gamified, free and you will definitely pick up some English. Along the way, you’ll do fill in the blank exercises (e.g., is that “in, at or on”) and improve your geography knowledge. Tripppin is easy and free, but the gimmicky, pun-inflicted teaching style gets old and annoying quickly.

CONS: After a few minutes of play, the jokes and cheesy get old.

LiveMocha (RIP)


Take courses, get corrections from native speakers

PROS: Since being purchased by Rosetta Stone, LiveMocha has undergone an extensive makeover including a new design and activity format. LiveMocha users earn points for correcting  speaking/writing exercises in their native language and can spend points on language courses.Unfortunately, the dwindling user base has rendered LiveMocha’s social learning component utterly useless.

CONS:  Customer service, slow functionality and lack of users, many of whom have joined the likes of busuu or babbel.

Note: As of April 22, 2016 Rosetta Stone shut down LiveMocha for good.



Full-suite language courses + social learning

Busuu offers lessons that focus on speaking, writing, reading and listening skills and the opportunity to meet language partners.

PROS: Users can share exercises  with the community to receive feedback from native speakers. Targeted courses include business skills, travel skills and pronunciation practice. You can take level tests and earn certificates.

CONS: You’ll have to purchase the activities without trying them first.  Sometimes the language used in the activities is unnatural. The certification tests are too easy and not a good measure of ability.

Disclaimer: I received a free premium 6 month membership to Busuu