Englishtown is the best website we found for learning English online, whether you are a beginning student or an advanced student who wants to pass standardized tests. You can also use this service to improve your conversational skills for business or for a vacation abroad. Englishtown is part of Education First, a company that opened almost 50 years ago. The English-learning arm of the company opened 12 years ago, and its curriculum was most recently updated in March 2010. The company boasts more than half a million paying students and provides various free services to another 12 million people worldwide, according to company representatives. Its many learning features and easy-to-use website make Englishtown our TopTenREVIEWS Gold Award winner.

If you want to learn English online, Englishtown is your best option. Each lesson includes many study tools such as videos, grammar quizzes and vocabulary tests. You also have access to voice-recognition technology that listens to you speak English through a microphone plugged into your computer. This technology coaches you on pronunciation by showing you right and wrong sounds, and it lets you keep trying until you say a word perfectly.

You can use Englishtown if you speak any one of many native languages, including Chinese, Spanish, Japanese and Portuguese. These are the most popular languages on the internet after English. You can also learn with Englishtown.com if you speak slightly less-common languages including Italian, Thai, Turkish or Indonesian.

Quality of Instruction
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The professionals at Englishtown have been practicing the art of teaching for decades, and it shows in the excellent curriculum the company offers. The excellence of Englishtown is also apparent in its tutors' qualifications. Each English teacher is certified by Cambridge University in England and is certified to teach for standardized English tests such as the IELTS (International English Language Testing System) and TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language). Then, instructors go through a training program specific to Englishtown. From there, supervisors monitor class sessions and students are encouraged to leave feedback about their teachers. Together, these strategies ensure that the quality of the service's instructors is of the highest possible caliber.

With Englishtown, each lesson begins with a movie in English that highlights some aspect of English culture. Fashion is a popular topic, for example, and getting a job is another. After each lesson's movie, you answer questions about it that match your learning level. Then, you get to practice vocabulary by completing a handful of activities.

The next section in each unit lets you practice speaking. Englishtown's pioneering speech-recognition technology starts working here. To complete each exercise, click on each word to hear the correct pronunciation. Then, click the record button to repeat the word. If your English pronunciation is good, you can go to the next word. If not, you can try again. The speech-recognition software requires increasing precision as you advance through the English learning levels.

Speaking and reading English are important, but you need good listening skills to communicate effectively. With Englishtown, the listening section of each unit starts with a movie. To keep you interested, the videos for each unit follow a storyline. This means that the same characters you met in the reading section continue their experiences in the subsequent lessons. Here, instead of answering written questions, you match photos with audio clips.

Writing is your next task, and one that is part of every unit. Our test lesson required us to write a posting for a job opening using the vocabulary and cultural cues we learned throughout the unit. Once you finish writing, you turn in your assignment. One of Englishtown's tutors will correct it by hand. Group speaking practice and one-on-one tutoring are also available. These sessions take place in the Adobe Connect webinar format. Students do not pay extra to use this conferencing service.

Variety of Offerings
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Englishtown has so many tools to help you learn English that you're sure to find the ones that work best for your learning style. Pronunciation activities using the speech-recognition technology mentioned above are among the best we found. We also loved the flashcards, dictionary, translator and games that are part of Englishtown.

Another great feature of Englishtown is its options for English learners with differing needs. For example, you can focus on survival English. You can also get specific help for business English and for the standardized exams mentioned above. Furthermore, printable lessons mean you can keep studying wherever you are, even if you aren't near a computer. We also loved the fact that you can download complete units to study offline. This will be a great benefit to English students with unreliable access to internet connections.

More is available to you as well. Each week, an online magazine is posted to keep you up to date on English culture and news. You can also take mini tests with this weekly feature and watch a Video of the Day. In sum, Englishtown offers everything we looked for in terms of English teaching and learning tools.

Social Media
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Englishtown lets you connect with other English students around the world through its community tab. You can create a profile, search for friends and upload photos. Then, you can chat in real time or become pen pals with your fellow students. You can also learn from and compete with your new friends. It works like this: As you progress through the lessons and units of Englishtown, you earn points. You can also earn a star next to your name when you reach a certain experience level. You use these points to compete in study challenges. Alternatively, you can join a group made up of speakers of your native language to focus on business, entertainment, studying abroad and more.

The only feature missing from the social-media portion of Englishtown is integration with other social-media websites such as Facebook and Twitter. Competing online English learning websites that offer this integration let students boast about their progress to family members and friends who aren't actively learning to speak English.

Ease of Use
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9.5/10
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Englishtown, unlike many of its competitors, is available for English students of all levels. You start by taking a placement test that includes reading, listening and speaking skills. From there, you are directed to a level and unit aligned with your skill level. You begin learning by progressing through each unit. You will pass each lesson by answering at least 70 percent of the questions correctly.

Between lessons, you can access several study tools and find a teacher by navigating the tabs at the top of the homepage. Fortunately, these tabs will display in your native language. As you become more familiar with the site, you can move backward and forward within your curriculum. You can also check your progress with just a few clicks or connect to other Englishtown members for fun and practice.

Englishtown Summary:
9.8/10

Englishtown offers live tutors, speech-recognition technology, multiple learning activities and a thoughtful, progressive curriculum. These features, combined with highly qualified teachers and lessons, make Englishtown the best service available to learn English online. We look forward to new lessons with increased video content. We strongly recommend this service whether you are a beginning English speaker, a global business professional or a student planning to study outside your home country.

 

Englishtown

Top Ten Reviews no longer updates this category and keeps it here for archiving purposes only. It was last updated in January 2014.