I've compiled many "Best" lists for English Language Learners.

These include The Best Web Tools For English Language Learners (In Other Words, The Ones My Students Regularly Use) and The Best Beginner, Intermediate & Advanced English Language Learner Sites.

Now, though, I think it's time to narrow them down to my choices for the "best of the best" or, in other words, an "All-Time Best" list.

Here are my choices, and I hope readers will let me know if they agree, disagree, and/or think I've missed some (one key requirement is that they are all free to use). Some of the sites I list could go in multiple categories, but I have placed them in the "domains" I believe they help the most:

FOR READING

Obviously, The British Council has tons of great resources. I particularly like their animated Short Stories.

I'm obviously biased, but I think the weekly student interactives I create for The New York Times are very useful to English Language Learners.

The Reading and Everyday Life activities from GCF LearnFree are excellent.

ESL-Bits has good exercised for Intermediate English Language Learners.

Kiz Klub has many simple interactive books to read with audio support for the text.

FOR VOCABULARY

Language Guide has got to be the best online dictionary for ELLS on the Web. Plus, if you click on the “gear” symbol at the top, students can access all sorts of reinforcing interactive exercises. Too bad they don’t highlight that feature more prominently.

Mrs. Haquet has lots of great online activities she has created, and I especially like her vocabulary exercises.

Learning Chocolate teaches basic vocabulary, and reinforces the learning with multiple exercises as does ESOL Courses.

FOR SPEAKING & LISTENING

Duolingo has got to be number one in this category. Teachers can create free virtual classrooms to monitor student progress.

Lingo Hut is an impressive site for beginning learners of many different languages, including English. Using a drop-down menu, you can easily select your native language and the language you want to learn, and then progress through a well-designed series of exercises including reading, listening and speaking.

I’ve long believed Henny Jellema’s online TPR Exercises to be not only one of the best listening exercises for Beginning English Language Learners on the Web, but one of the best ELL activities — period.

English Central offers much of its content for free, and its ability to "grade" accuracy in pronunciation is a great feature.

U.S.A Learns is an incredible website to help Beginners and Intermediates learn English. It’s free to use. Students can register if they want to save their work and evaluate their progress. And teachers can create free virtual classrooms, too.

Connect With English shows engaging videos accompanied by interactive exercises.

Lyrics Training and Lyrics Gaps are super-engaging sites where students can interact with music videos. Unfortunately, though, often school Internet content filters block the videos, so it's difficult to use them in class.

FOR WRITING - CREATING ONLINE CONTENT:

Dvolver Moviemaker has been a longtime favorite of many English teachers around the world. Students can very, very easily create short animation — with music and dialogue bubbles — to tell a short story.  I’ve used it in many ways. One time, students were learning how to write a persuasive essay and, after studying gangs, they used Dvolver to demonstrate their understanding of “What I Think; Opposing Position; and Counter-Argument.” Here's one example and you can see more here at our class blogHere are examples some of my previous students have created.
 
Dance Mat Typing doesn't fit into the "the creating online content" category, but it is the best typing-instruction tool on the Web for English Language Learners since it provides audio for the words and letters it asks you to type, in addition to showing them to you.
 
ClassTools is just about the most versatile online creation site out there. None of the many tools require registration, and student creations from all them have their own url address and can be embedded. In addition to Dustbin, which is one of my favorite game-creation sites, here are three that particularly stand-out:
 
  • Post it lets you upload an image from your computer or from a url address (you can put the url address of a photo in the “File Name” box and it will work, too). Then, you can easily annotate/label different parts of the image.
  • Qwikslides is a super-easy tool for creating slideshows. I’m adding it to The Best Ways To Create Online Slideshows.
  • ClassTools’ Venn Diagram tool is the easiest and best tool I’ve seen anywhere on the Web to create two or three circle diagrams.

These three, and Dustbin, are just the tip of the iceberg. You can make arcade game quizzes , a fake “Facebook” page and a whole lot more.

Russel Tarr, the site's owner, has all these sites in one place, they’re free, no registration is required, and it’s unlikely that ClassTools is blocked by school district content filters.

Let me know what you think, and what I'm missing!

 

Larry Ferlazzo teaches English and Social Studies at Luther Burbank High School in Sacramento, California. He has written eight books on education, include three on teaching English Language Learners, writes a teacher advice blog for Education Week Teacher, and has his own popular resource-sharing blog. He writes a weekly post for the New York Times on teaching English Language Learners.

 

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