Second Language Certification


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Unsure of your level in English? We invite you to take a little quiz using a “Self-evaluate your language skills” and determine your level in various language skills such as listening, reading, speaking or writing. It is based on the European Common Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) and will give you a good idea of your competencies in English on a six-level scale from A1 to C2.


English Level Test - Reading This website offers a free level test to get immediate feedback on your overall level in reading. It also offers a level test to evaluate your Listening, Vocabulary, and Grammar level. 

Click here to access sample passages created by the University of Ottawa. In order to access this link you must sign in to Google using your uOttawa email address.  

USA Learns: Offers free lessons through the course “Practice English and Reading”. There are eleven (11) units including Family, Health and Safety, Housing, Money and many others. It requires creating an account to access the course (via an email and a password). 

ESL Reader: ESL Reader is an Online Reading Help for students learning English as a Second Language (ESL). Use it to speed up your reading time and improve reading skills. Anytime you need to read online text in English, copy that text and run it through ESL Reader. It will make each word into a link so you can easily look-up word definition or translation simply by clicking on it. With ESL Reader you use numerous dictionaries and references without reloading text. Just change the reference source and click on the same word to look it up again.

Tune in to Learning: The Reading section of this website allows you to improve your reading skills through a collection of engaging videos and web activities. It is organized in three (3) parts, Understanding What You Read, Studying & Test Prep, and Libraries & Books.  

BBC Skillwise – Reading: Appropriate for all levels, this site helps with skimming, using the dictionary, or reading for understanding.  



English Level Test - Listening: This website offers a free level test to get immediate feedback on your overall level in listening. It also offers a level test to evaluate your Reading, Vocabulary, and Grammar level.

ESL Lounge: A comprehensive website that offers test-prep, listening and reading practice, as well as some grammar exercises. A good place to start is the advanced level exercises, as the intermediate are fairly simple. 

ESOL Courses – Listening Exercises: Hundreds of listening clips available for students at an intermediate level. Just click on the exercise you would like to do, listen and answer multiple choice questions!. 

LyricsTraining: Listen to songs you like in English and fill in the missing words. It’s a great way to have fun and practice your listening skills in English. 

Randall’s ESL Cyber Listening Lab: This site offers hundreds of listening passages, all with quizzes and answers. The “Listening Quizzes for Academic Purposes” will be most useful for your preparations. : With activities ranging from basic to advanced, this tool allows students to listen to a recording and test their understanding. It provides three steps where students first listen only, then take the quiz, and finally see the dialogue transcript to check comprehension. 

ESL Video Quizzes: Select your level at the top of the page to watch videos from YouTube and then answer short quizzes to check your understanding. 

VOA News (Learning English): These short news stories for ESL students use simple sentence structure and common vocabulary. The broadcasters also speak slowly. Listen and read along. 

Breaking News English: A news website for ESL learners that lets you choose the level you listen and read along to breaking news stories. There is a news lesson every two days on one of the events taking place around the world. Avoiding Ambiguities



The Purdue Online Writing Lab: To polish your writing abilities, visit the Online Writing Lab (OWL) to learn new writing and style techniques, as well as some grammar points. For more advanced learners and teachers. Includes techniques for efficient writing as well as guidelines to avoid plagiarism and apply proper formatting to your papers (MLA & APA Style Guides). 

ESL Lounge: A comprehensive website that offers test-prep, listening and reading practice, as well as some grammar exercises. A good place to start is the advanced level exercises, as the intermediate are fairly straightforward.  

BBC Skillswise Writing: Learn about planning your writing, paragraphs, format and structure, and proofreading. Includes worksheets and quizzes. 

Writing Guidelines for Engineering and Science Students: A useful website for students going into engineering and sciences. Learn about the expectations for writing in your field and prepare for entry to your program. This site also includes a number of online lessons focusing on particular points such as Constraints, Structure or Avoiding Ambiguities 

Write & Improve This site uses technology to mark your submitted writing and give you a grade. You will receive a score based on the CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference) and it will give you feedback on how to improve. 

Hemingway App: This site allows you to paste in writing, or create a piece of writing right on the site. This is a great tool for more advanced writers who want to improve their usage of adverbs, passive voice, and clearly-structured sentences. 

Readable: : Get a score on your writing with this site. It will measure whether the writing will be understood by an average reader. 



The best way to improve your speaking skills is undoubtedly using the language as much as possible! Join your colleagues and take part in the OLBI Conversation Workshops.


Forvo: A pronunciation dictionary. Search for a word, and then find the pronunciation in different accents. Resources are added through crowdsourcing, so users can submit their own recordings. This will provide you with a variety of styles and accents to choose from. 

YouGlish: Search for a specific word or phrase. Then, YouGlish will find videos on YouTube that use this word or phrase in context. Search over 50 million videos to get examples of how to use words correctly in English.  

To Fluency: You will find here many free tools to help you understand topics like phrasal verbs, idioms, collocations, conversation examples and more. 

Upodn: This simple yet helpful site allows you to type in a word or phrase and get the phonetics for it. See results and observe where the word stress is.  

Basic English Speaking: From this site, find a list of conversation lessons including the topics of daily English conversation, common English expressions, and common phrases and sentence patterns.  

Talk English “These lessons (American English pronunciation) will provide you with an explanation, instruction, and audio files to help you articulate the sounds correctly.” (Talk English).  

ESL Pronunciation – English Media Lab: “Practice English pronunciation through IPA phonetics. We offer free ESL Pronunciation Quizzes, Video Lessons. Intonation Exercises.” ( You can practice minimal pairs differences by moving your mouse over the words and hearing their pronunciation.  

Sample Speaking Task  



English Level Test – Grammar This website offers a free level test to get immediate feedback on your overall level in grammar. It also offers a level test to evaluate your Reading, Vocabulary, and Listening level. 

Oxford Practice Grammar: Download and take a test to find out whether you need to practice Beginner, Intermediate, or Advanced level grammar. Then choose the level the most appropriate and work on practice exercises as well as the ones in the section “Read and Write”. 

BBC Skillswise Grammar: Learn all about the basics of English grammar, including basic sentence structure, parts of speech, and punctuation. Quizzes following each section will help you test your knowledge.  

LEO Network (Learn English Online): The Grammar guide on this website offers a three-point sequence in revising your grammar. You start off with an explanation (Read This!), follow up with examples (Picture This! section) and finally test your knowledge in a Test This! section. 

ESL Café: Includes grammar lessons and quizzes for advanced students. Grammar lessons are organised in clusters around a specific element (for example, Gerunds, or Adjective Clauses). Note: You will need to know what particular grammar point you are working on in order to get the most out of this site. 

English Grammar Quizzes for ESL Students: This website includes many grammar and vocabulary quizzes for ESL students, sorted by difficulty (Easy – Medium – Difficult). It is also a good site for those looking for bilingual vocabulary quizzes. (In 45+ languages). 

English Page: This site offers mini tutorials and many grammar quizzes and lessons for intermediate learners. Start with a Verb tense tutorial and then follow up with exercises on specific grammar points that you would like to cover. This website also offers sections on Vocabulary (for advanced students) and Prepositions 

ESL Lounge: Check out the Grammar Guide on this website, try your hand at intermediate-level exercises and then move up to the Advanced level if you find them too simple. 

Dave’s ESL Café: Hundreds of explanations for many different grammar points. Check the Quizzes section on the website to test your knowledge.. 

Student Zone Consult the Grammar Index and pick the Grammar lessons and exercises from the list to learn and then test your comprehension. 



English Level Test - Vocabulary: This website offers a free level test to get immediate feedback on your overall level in vocabulary. It also offers a level test to evaluate your Reading, Grammar, and Listening grammar. 

Cambridge English Dictionary: Get clear definitions and audio pronunciations of words, phrases, and idioms in British and American English from the three most popular Cambridge dictionaries of English with just one search: the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary, and the Cambridge Business English Dictionary. 

Macmillan Collocations Dictionary: Collocations are combinations of words which frequently occur together. For example, 'solve a problem' and 'highly successful' are collocations. Click on a letter to jump to the relevant section of the alphabet to see a list of collocations included. 

Thesaurus: Find synonyms for any word in English. It will help expand your vocabulary as long as you do not forget to look for a specific context and ensure you got the correct meaning. 

Free Rice: Improve your vocabulary while supporting the UN World Food Program. 

ESL Lounge: Check out a variety of exercises on this website and expand your vocabulary. You can pick Confusing Words, Weather Idioms, Phrasal Verbs or any of the other sections to add new words and have a richer conversation with your peers or write a more varied essay for your course. 

Vocabulary Exercises for the Academic Word List: If you are a university student, it is always a good idea to familiarize yourself with the vocabulary from the Academic Word List. This website separates the list into 10 sections with exercises to practice their use. 

ESL Desk: Include a large number of vocabulary lists and quizzes for different levels along with spelling tests that allow students to practice while hearing the proper word forms. 

Idioms & Axioms currently used in America: Add some idioms to your vocabulary! The idioms are defined and classified as common, polite, or vulgar.