The Internet makes many English language learning tools, communities and resources available to anyone with a computer and a connection. Interactive English, which uses audio-visual prompts to assist in learning and self-testing, is one such resource. Interactive English websites typically contain pages of visual aids that can be activated by the user with a mouse click to generate spoken or written vocabulary or to link to a quiz for self-testing. The term "interactive English" is also used by brick-and-mortar English schools to refer to a style of learning that involves discussion, role-play, and frequent interaction with the instructor.
In a typical language school setting, many learning methodologies rely on passive activities like listening and reading. While these activities are necessary for any student wishing to learn English grammar and vocabulary, they must be supplemented by others to facilitate the acquisition of communications skills. Interactive English-learning techniques help develop these communications skills by requiring a response from the student, whether it be by engaging in discussion with fellow students, interacting with the instructor, or working with audio-visual teaching devices. Interactive learning methodologies are based on the theory that reproducing language for the purpose of direct communication accelerates the assimilation of grammar and vocabulary.
Many interactive English exercises can be effectively utilized online without the need for an instructor. A typical interactive reading exercise, for example, facilitates comprehension and vocabulary acquisition by supplying a written passage with several multiple-choice questions based on it. An interactive grammar exercise might consist of a sentence with a missing verb and an attached multiple-choice quiz supplying several verb tense constructions. A student can use the tests both as a way of learning and as a method of increasing confidence by self-testing.
While many online sites devoted to helping users learn English are unambiguously constructed as "schools" with interactive English aids like audio-visual and grammar tools, there are others that can be just as helpful to a student wishing to learn communications skills. These include online communities of English learners that encourage chatting, e-mails, and voice exchanges between students. These interactive English communities are usually moderated by qualified instructors, and though they can effectively supplement experience in a physical classroom, they may also stand alone as a student's only resource for interacting in English. Such communities have the advantage of exposing students to a wide spectrum of "classmates" from many different countries, helping them to learn about and appreciate cultures other than their own while they learn English.