Open Resources - English as a Foreign Language

Federal agencies and many international organizations make their publications available free of charge. Some universities and institutions make teaching resources or scholarly publications freely available to others.

United States government materials are in the public domain while other organizations make their materials available using Creative Commons or other open licenses. To be sure that your use falls within the scope of the license, look for a terms of use, copyright, or similar link on the site you're using. 

United States Government

VOA Learning English (Voice of America)

Learning English is VOA’s multimedia source of news and information for millions of English learners worldwide.

  • Learning English texts, MP3s and videos are in the public domain. You are allowed to reprint them for educational and commercial purposes, with credit to
  • VOA photos are also in the public domain. However, photos and video images from news agencies such as AP and Reuters are copyrighted and many not be republished without permission.
  • High-resolution audio and video files can be downloaded for free through USAGM Direct, an online service providing original multimedia content from Voice of America. Access to USAGM Direct requires user registration.
  • Read more about VOA Learning English and using their content.

American English (State Department)

American English is a resource center for teaching and learning about American English language and culture.

  • Unless a copyright is indicated, information on State Department websites is in the public domain and may be copied and distributed without permission. The U.S. State Department should be cited as source of the information.
  • If a copyright is indicated on a photo, graphic, or other material, permission to copy these materials must be obtained from the original source. For photos without captions or with only partial captions, hold your cursor over the photo to view the "alt tag" for any copyright information. Please note that many photos used on this website are copyrighted. Only State Department photos are in the public domain.
  • Explore the resources on American English and read more about using their content.

Everyday Conversations

Everyday Conversations, part of the English Learning resources on ShareAmerica, provides lessons in American English through transcripts and recordings of real-world everyday conversations. ShareAmerica is managed by the Bureau of Global Public Affairs within the U.S. Department of State.

Other U.S. Government Works

Most agencies have information about how their material can be used in an "About," "Terms of Use," "Policies," or similar section on their website. As a general rule, text and images created by the agency are in the public domain, but materials on their website created by others are not. Materials not created by the agency (and therefore not in the public domain) usually show where they came from ("with permission," "courtesy of," "copyright XYZ" or something similar).For more information, visit Copyright Exceptions for U.S. Government Works.

Public Domain Due to Expiration of Copyright Protection

In the United States, works published before 1927 are in the public domain and may be used freely. Project Gutenberg has over 60,000 e-books that can be read or downloaded for free. Public Domain Sherpa has an extensive list of resources to help you find public domain books online.

Open Educational Resources (OERs)

OERs are educational materials that are created to be used, shared, and built upon by others.

Journal Articles

  • DOAJ- Indexes and provides access to open access, peer-reviewed journals
  • OpenDOAR - Indexes and searches open access repositories
  • SSRN (Social Science Research Network) - Searchable database of research papers in the social sciences, including education


Proper attribution to the creator of the work in the form of a complete citation should be provided whenever you are using the work of others. In addition to being required for academic integrity, this is a specific condition of all Creative Commons licensed materials.