Online Self-Study Materials for English Language Learners

Open Educational Resources (OERs) for Non-Formal English Language Study

I am coming at this idea from the perspective of how to assist students as participants who are intrinsically motivated to enhance their learning in both non-formal and formal settings. For my ESL participants attending a non-formal language study circle, for instance, the homework system using free, open access OPEN EDUCATIONAL RESOURCES (OERs) could extend their own language learning activities. What might these participants voluntarily want to engage in?

Several online activities come to mind that learners can use while participating in non-formal learning circles or as independent learners working on their own:

  • Making annotated notes (written notes, recorded voice notes, and rich pictures) about what learners are reading online, as well as commentaries sharing and comparing their notes with other participants;
  • Making screenshots of samples of texts translated using Google Translate, then stored, tagged, commented on, and shared;
  • A way to create and share mind-maps and other graphic organizers;
  • A collection of pen-casts that combine self-talk about the ideas the learner is describing visually or as a number of written notes;
  • A collection of photos and visuals with voice annotations, vocabulary lists
  • A bunch of lit reviews of OERs and their usefulness (an example is the online OER repository at
  • A list of online OER resources on how participants have made use of them for their own learning (tagged, categorized, and shared)
  • A list of open blogs of other learners eager to share ideas
  • A number of curated resource collections by expert learners and instructors


Which resources can help support autonomous learning?

Examples of Canadian OERS for ESL Learners

One excellent source for OERs for English language learners is developed by NorQuest College. For example, one OER for English Language students is In The Community: An Intermediate Integrated Skills Textbook located online at


This textbook can be used as part of a facilitated class, or for self-access. It is for ESL students to help build communication skills so they can be more confident in the community (listening, speaking, reading, and writing) and focuses on intercultural skills and essential skills: reading text, document use, writing, oral communication, thinking skills, working with others, and computer use. These resources are also available on the Bow Valley College website: In the Community: An Intermediate Integrated Skills Textbook


Another excellent source online is the Study Zone developed for ESL learners at the University of Victoria. URL:

This OER is maintained by teachers of the English Language Centre at the University of Victoria, and is designed for the Centre’s adult English language learners, but all are welcome to read the lessons and use the exercises.  There are self-study resources for use online at different language skill levels to practice reading, listening, and vocabulary.