Free Online Resources for ESL Learners

July 11, 2022 | Mike

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Patrons working on laptops in a library branch
Photo of the Bloor/Gladstone Branch by Steven Evans. Used with permission.

If you're a newcomer to Toronto, finding time to improve your English can be hard. You may be working, in school, or both. Classes for English as a second language (ESL) learners may not be offered at a convenient time or might be costly if taken from a private school.

Luckily, Toronto Public Library (TPL) has many online resources to help. You can improve your English at any time and from any place. Best of all, these are all free when you have a library card. Library cards are free to get if you are living, working or studying in Toronto. Find out how to get a library card.

Learning Express Library

Need to study for the TOEFL, TOEIC, IELTS or GED test? Get practice exams for each of those from Learning Express Library and you can study from home at your own pace. Learning Express Library also has tutorials, practice sets and ebooks to help improve your writing skills and grammar. Everything is free, but you do need to create an account. This will help track your progress as you complete any courses or tests.


Road to IELTS

More in-depth IELTS tutorials and practice tests are available through Road to IELTS. In fact, there are two different versions of this database. The General Training resource is aimed at those taking the General test for secondary education, a work experience or training program. The Academic Training resource is for anyone taking the Academic test for post-secondary education like university or college, or for a professional institution. Both the Academic and General resources have interactive activities and study tests to help you prepare.


Tense Buster

If you're looking to improve your English grammar, Tense Buster is the resource for you. It has five different levels to choose from and each level contains different tutorials to practice your grammar. Not sure which level is right for you? Start with the multi-level test to find out your current level, then explore the lessons in that category.


Mango Languages

Mango Languages also has English as second language courses. The nice part about these courses is that they are available in over twenty languages, so the instructions can be in languages such as Arabic, Mandarin or Somali. 



Know a child or teen who needs help learning English? Brainfuse has an ESL section for grades K to 12 with a wide range of resources for all language levels. Once you're in Brainfuse, go to SkillSurfer and then select the ESL category. Brainfuse also has online tutors available daily from 2:00 pm to 11:00 pm. Tutors can help with all subjects, not just English.