Reddit has been around since 2005, but many people are still unaware of how useful it can be. The mainstream media often paints Reddit in negative light due to various “scandals” related to the website. However, the majority of subreddits – Reddit communities organized around a particular interest or topic – are great, positive places where people exchange ideas and knowledge for free. One of the best ways to learn a language (or improve your current language skills) is to simply communicate with other speakers, so it’s easy to see why Reddit makes a good practice ground for language learners.
Although there are dedicated subreddits for various languages, you’ll make the most of Reddit if you’re looking to improve your English. The majority of content posted to Reddit is written in English, and there are several subreddits devoted to the beauty, intricacies, and problems of the English language. Whether you’re a native speaker, a linguist, someone who wants to expand their vocabulary, or a student looking for help, you’re sure to find a subreddit that suits your interests.
Improve Your Vocabulary and Pronunciation
Browse the pages of this subreddit and you just might stumble upon an English word you’ve never heard before. The words and their definitions usually make up the title of a post, so you can get the gist of a word at a quick glance. More in-depth discussions are centered around possible uses of a word, and you can also find links to online quizzes that test your knowledge of the English vocabulary.
This subreddit welcomes word-lovers of all languages, but most discussions are about English words. /r/Words is a more active community than /r/Vocabulary. Here you can ask questions about synonyms, and search for different ways to express thoughts and ideas. Intermediate-to-advanced level speakers will find this subreddit particularly useful, since word-related questions are a great exercise in recalling and connecting previously learned word definitions.
Logophilia is not for those regular words that everybody knows and uses on a daily basis. Instead, it’s a subreddit for unusual, rare words that might have fallen out of use, but are still interesting and good to know. The format is similar to the /r/Vocabulary subreddit: users should post a word and its definition with a link to an online dictionary entry. They can also post “requests” for a word with a certain meaning, or ask about less common synonyms of a word they want to use.
If you’re not afraid of strangers on the Internet judging your voice, you can post a sound recording of yourself speaking English on /r/JudgeMyAccent. Of course, the subreddit is open to speakers of all languages. It’s quite a direct way to get feedback on your English pronunciation. All you have to do is upload a recording to Vocaroo or SoundCloud, and wait for others to chime in with advice on how to improve your accent.
Find Study Partners
Instead of chatting with everyone at once, you might prefer sharpening your English skills in one-on-one conversation. Subreddits like /r/AlienExchange and /r/Penpals are just the right place to find a person to talk to. You can focus on language practice and look for people with the same interest, or find someone to chat about anything and see where it takes you. Of course, all users are expected to behave politely, so make sure to follow the subreddit rules.
There are many benefits to studying in groups, and some of them apply even when you’re learning together online, as opposed to meeting in person. /r/StudyPals extends the idea of finding a language learning partner to other subjects, so you can join a group of Biology, Math, or History students. It’s also a place where you can offer to help others with a subject you’re good at, and in return get advice on a subject or a particular problem you’re struggling with.
/r/LanguageExchange and /r/LanguageBuds are subreddits made specifically for language learners who want to communicate with native speakers of a language they’re learning. Both communities are very active, and they attract bilingual and multilingual people ready to help others with speaking, writing, and vocabulary skills. You’re expected to state which languages you’re proficient in, as well as your proficiency level according to the Common European Framework of Reference. This makes it easier for people to form study groups and pairs. There are many users offering help with English, so if you have something to offer in return, you should definitely check out these two subreddits.
Ask For Help
We’ve all experienced that cursed tip-of-the-tongue moment at least once. You know the word, you know what it means; after all, you’ve used it a thousand times before. Yet somehow it escapes you just when you need it. /r/WhatsTheWord to the rescue! This is a subreddit where you can ask for help when you know the definition of a word, or when you know what you want to say, but don’t know the word for it. Basically, the subreddit serves as a crowdsourced reverse dictionary.
It’s hard to find an article about blogging, editing your resume, or writing a cover letter that doesn’t warn about the importance of proofreading. Typos can leave a bad impression on the reader, make you seem sloppy and careless, or in the worst case scenario, render a sentence or an entire paragraph completely incomprehensible. That’s why you should always proofread twice, and if possible, enlist a second pair of eyes to catch anything that you might have missed.
The /r/Proofreading subreddit is a place you can turn to if your friends are too busy to proofread your text. Simply share the text on Google Docs, allow others to comment on it, and let them know if there’s a deadline before which the text has to be checked. Subreddit rules are somewhat strict, so you shouldn’t post homework or anything that directly tests your English knowledge, but job application letters and creative writing are perfectly fine.
If typos are bad, grammar mistakes might be even worse, especially if you make them online, where hordes of “grammar Nazis” lie in wait for their chance to belittle you and make fun of your “bad” English. While learning from your mistakes is sometimes the best way to learn, it’s wise to check beforehand and avoid making mistakes in the first place. The /r/Grammar subreddit welcomes everyone who wants to know more about English grammar, get advice about word usage, syntax, and word formation, as well as find links to grammar-related articles and learning resources. It can be useful to all English speakers regardless of their proficiency.
This subreddit is a good starting point for beginner-level students of English, and the posts are similar to those found in other subreddits on this list. In other words, here you can ask about word meanings, phrase usage, and pronunciation, as well as get writing advice and tips on how to pass English exams. The community is slightly less active than, say, /r/Grammar, but you can still find someone willing to help you.
/r/Linguistics can be particularly valuable to university students majoring in language studies, as it’s a community where linguists exchange knowledge and resources about all languages. There’s enough content about the English language, and you can learn about the history of language, its dialects, and phonology, as well as participate in discussions about the relationship of language and society. Users often post links to free online courses on language studies, and weekly Q & A sessions are reserved for quick questions about the study of language in general.
/r/Language is a community open to speakers of all languages, and most people come there to ask for help in identifying the language in which something is written. The approach to the topic is not as scholarly as in /r/Linguistics, but you’ll still find links to insightful articles about languages – English and other – in this subreddit.
If English is not your native language, but you’ve learned it in school, chances are you’ve heard of IELTS. It’s a standardized test intended to “measure” English language proficiency. Many countries and institutions require you to pass this test if you want to apply for a visa or enroll in an English-based university programme.
In order to improve their chances of getting a perfect IELTS score, people often turn to online resources. Communities like /r/IELTS and /r/EnglishTutoring are much smaller than other subreddits on this list, but they’re also more focused on a particular goal. They provide lesson plans, word lists, and tips for IELTS preparation. Even better, you can directly contact people who have taken the test, ask them about their experience, and get support and encouragement.
“What’s the origin of this phrase?”
“How did that word get its meaning?”
If you find yourself pondering similar questions, /r/Etymology might be the place where you’ll spend many hours – and enjoy every single one. Here you can ask about word meanings and their fluctuations throughout history, and find links to external resources about etymology. Those who prefer visual representations of information should check out /r/EtymologyMaps. This cool subreddit contains dozens of maps that clearly show the connection between languages, and answer another one of those pressing questions – “How do people say this in other languages?”.
As you start exploring these subreddits, you might be put off by Reddit’s appearance. The good thing is that you don’t have to stick with the default Reddit interface forever. Try one of many mobile Reddit apps, and have your English learning tools with you on the go.
Another good thing is that you don’t have to register for a Reddit account to access the content. Of course, if you want to participate in discussions, you’ll need an account, which is free and doesn’t require an email address. However, if you just want to learn passively by reading articles and posts, that also works.
In that case, you can get new words from /r/Logophilia and /r/Words delivered to your RSS reader by simply appending .rss to the subreddit link (example: http://www.reddit.com/r/words/.rss). To browse multiple subreddits at once, combine them into a multireddit (http://www.reddit.com/r/grammar+language+linguistics+EnglishLearning). Multireddits can be converted to RSS feeds the same way as a regular subreddit.
Using Reddit as a way to improve your English might not be everyone’s cup of tea. On the other hand, participating in English-related subreddits is probably the easiest way to get in touch with other language learners and native speakers. Although it could never replace the classroom experience or a personal English tutor, we think that Reddit is still worth a shot.
SEE ALSO: 6 Most Interesting Facts About Reddit
What do you think – is this a good way to learn and improve English? Can you recommend any other online communities where English learners can ask for help? Let us know in the comments below.