A selection of Internet tools that can be highly useful to teachers of English as a second (or foreign) language.
The ever-growing Web has caused the availability of resources for teachers of English as a foreign language to skyrocket over the last several years. Whether you teach in a virtual or traditional classroom, chances are that at least one or two of these resources can help you craft enjoyable and effective lessons.
The sites on this list don't all do exactly the same thing, but each of them may help improve your workflow with your ESL/EFL students. From lesson plan assistance to databases of recorded listening exercises to quizzes based on YouTube videos, these tools can each contribute something special to your classroom.
- SpeechPeek is an online portal that allows ESL/EFL teachers to create interactive speaking and listening exercises for students to complete and submit remotely. Using peripheral or embedded laptop microphones, students record themselves speaking the exercises you provide, and their results are saved on the site for you to listen to and grade. Teachers have the opportunity record “solutions” to the exercise in their own voices, and a feature of the site allows you to provide personalized feedback to each student on each exercise.
- BusyTeacher is an extensive repository of affordable e-books, downloadable classroom posters, informative education articles for ESL/EFL teachers and over 10,000 free printable worksheets in dozens of categories. You can find innovative methods for coaching grammar and punctuation, new teaching ideas, timely lessons specific to the season and more. Free online tools at BusyTeacher include applications for creating word search, jumble and letter tile puzzles as well as a daily warmer that you can slip into your curriculum or use as inspiration for fun exercises of your own.
- English Listening Lesson Library Online (ELLLO) contains hundreds of pre-recorded monologues and discussions on an enormous variety of topics, geared to English speakers at six distinct levels of skill from beginner to advanced. ELLLO recruits speakers from more than 60 countries, helping you introduce your students to a variety of different English accents, and some exercises contain comprehension games as learning aids. The lessons come in video as well as audio formats and can be sorted by topic, skill level or speaker's home country.
- ESLvideo takes an innovative approach to educational technology and turns something students probably do already into an ESL/EFL learning experience. Users register for an account, choose a YouTube video and then create quizzes based on the video content, which learners can then watch, answer and rate. Quizzes are ranked by recommended level of skill at English and contain a comment section for students to practice their written English. The diverse content on the site has been created by over 1,400 registered teachers, and registration for the site is free.
- TEFLnet presents its materials mainly in British English, but nevertheless offers a broad spectrum of resources for ESL/EFL teachers in the U.S. and internationally. Features include a worksheet generator, downloadable lesson plans, a discussion board for teachers, basic information about TEFL qualifications and a job board for aspiring ESL/EFL professionals worldwide. The name of the site comes from the acronym TEFL — for Teaching English as a Foreign Language — and the site's founder has helped produce a documentary on the subject , called “Talking TEFL.”
- FunEnglishGames.com is a great resource for ESL/EFL teachers in early childhood education, offering a wide variety of teaching tools aimed at children. Features include a long list online interactive games and printable puzzles, quizzes and worksheets on numerous topics. The site also offers suggestions for fun classroom activities, jokes, anagrams, tongue twisters and a healthy selection of videos focusing on vocabulary, grammar, history and humor.
- Tefltunes uses the principle that music is a great teaching tool and memory aid educators in the ESL/EFL field instruct students on English grammar and topical vocabulary at multiple skill levels. The full site operates on a subscription basis, but a handful of lessons are available for free so you can test out the concept as a part of your method. Songs can help relax the classroom atmosphere, introduce students to colloquial English and provide an authentic cultural dimension to your lessons. If you've ever had lyrics stuck in your head, you'll understand how this approach works.
- Busuu provides online interactive lessons in English (and 10 other languages) using photos and recordings by native speakers and other types of audio-visual material. Busuu also offers a mobile app for Android and iOS that contains a vocabulary of over 3,000 words and covers 150 everyday topics in its lessons. Combining classroom work with Busuu work might help engage students in multiple ways.
The sheer volume of educational assistance available from these and other ESL/EFL resources online can seem overwhelming at first, but it shouldn't take long to do a little exploring, become accustomed to the (sometimes unfamiliar) site or app design and start making use of them in your own classroom. Whether you use Web resources as supplemental instruction or online classes are your medium, at least one of these sites is bound to help you make learning English easy and fun.
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