FOR TEACHERS TO USE IN CLASS DESCRIPTION: This website provides a picture dictionary of words related to different topics: school, transporation, vegetables, etc. with a clip-art picture above it. It comes in English, Spanish, Italian, French, and German. Besides the pictures, the site has a list of activities and flashcards students can use.
HOW TO USE: I see this as a more teacher-directed than student-directed site. I could print out the flashcards and give them to students, or go over them in class using a projector of the computer screen. Some of the activities are ones that the students could do on their own, like the spelling ones, but I think the explanations and concepts should be done by the teacher. For example, one activity has a group of pictures together, whose names pop up when the mouse is placed over the picture. It would be a good in-class activity for vocabulary review.
EVALUATION: I wish the "picture dictionary" was actually a "photo dictionary." Some of the pictures are confusing because they are only carictatures of the real thing. While I agree that using pictures are a great way of teaching vocabulary (certainly more useful than giving students a dual-language list), the object in question must be recognizable. Why is there a singing banana? Also, if the object does not exist in a student's culture, giving it a name is meaningless. For example, a refugee student who has come from Sudan probably has never seen a colander before, and thus does not know how to recognize either the word or the picture. Then the question becomes not one of language but of concept. I don't love the activities on this website, but I still find them useful to help students learn vocabulary.
DESCRIPTION: This is a very useful site for ESL students, full of links for pronuncation, grammar, independent activities, and more. It is good for self-study of proverbs, slang, tongue twisters, and other pronunciation help (including some audio!) plus reading and writing practice. For teachers, there is a "Many Interesting Things for ESL Teachers" link, which provides a host of activities, ideas, and tips for teaching ESL in the U.S. and abroad.
HOW TO USE: I actually emailed this site to one my ESL students (from Japan) who is studying in Florida now. She told me she really enjoyed the site and saw there were a lot of activities she could do to improve her English. I usually give my students a list of ideas they can do to practice their English outside of class (anything from watching t.v. in English to having a conversation with someone in a grocery store), and introducing them to this website would be one more thing for the list. Since most adult ESL classes don't follow lesson plans, I could use this website for ideas on what to teach as well as supplementary material to already-created lesson plans.
EVALUATION: I have the same problem with this website as I do with many others: they are not very professionally done! It could be because ESL teachers don't make enough money to make beautiful, aesthetically-pleasing websites, even if the information is invaluable. I like how the material on the website is useful for students of all levels, from very beginner to advanced, and many of the activities presented are great practice for students. I just wish it had more pictures!
FOR STUDENTS DESCRIPTION: This is an amzing website for students to practice their listening skills in English. It has a collection of podcasts of varying levels, as well as links to other podcasts students can use. Several podcasts have the written text added on as well, so they can read along at the same time. The site comes from Japan, so there are Japanese ads and some Japanese sidebars, but that does not detract from its obvious desire to be a website for all students learning English. The readers speak slowly, so they are easy to understand. Plus there are links to other websites for written practice.
HOW TO USE: I think this website would be a great resource for any adult ESL class I teach, since the content is for adults (i.e. politics, society, things children would find boring). I could use this website in class by printing off the text, then playing the sound so everyone can hear. I could also use it as an in-class activity, playing one section and then talking about what we heard about. It could also provide out-of-class practice for students looking to improve their listening comprehension skills.
EVALUATION: I don't know why the title in the link is "jokes" since obviously none of the material presented is funny, but nevertheless, I find this website very useful and I highly recommended it. The only drawback is is obvious tie to Japan, which may give Japanese students an advantage over students who speak another language (for instance, one activity is learning "Aude Lang Syne", which is translated into Japanese below the English). It also looks like this site hasn't been updated for a few months--at least since January. Regardless, its content and attention to the UDL principle of multiple input certainly makes it one of my favorite websites!
FOR TEACHERS DESCRIPTION: This website exists to help ESL teachers motivate their students to write creatively. It is created for teachers and gives a list of different writing activities for "for students of all ages." The site gives information and lesson plans for writing poetry, fiction, non-fiction, and essays, with different lesson plans for each one. Each lesson plan includes warm-up activities, instructions, a useable, un-copyrighted template for copying handouts, and some follow-up activites.
HOW TO USE: I am always looking for writing activities to do with my ESL students, since writing can be one of the most difficult tasks for them to complete. I really like the idea of using poetry to teach writing, especially some of the 5 and 10 line poems that are presented in this webpage. I believe ESL teachers should start incorporating writing activities from the beginning of class (not just waiting until students are "advanced enough" to be able to write well). Even beginning students can write poems that only involve nouns and adjectives. I believe there are activities I could use with my class anytime during the year.
EVALUATION: Even though this website is not very professional-looking--it is only black text on a white background--it is extremely easy to navigate and contains information that is useful to me as an ESL teacher. Not only are there over 50 lesson plan ideas, but there are also external links to other publishing opportunities for students and teacher resources for encouraging their students to write more and to use technology in the classroom.
FOR TEACHERS DESCRIPTION: This is a great linguistics site that any language teacher could use for teaching ideas and research-based lesson plans. It comes from Eastern Michigan University and has a wealth of information from computer resources, text tools, and conference updates to teaching/learning ideas, links to other linguistics-based websites, and job opportunities around the world. It is a great resource for language teachers as well as linguists. Even though it is created for professional linguists, the website is easy to understand and avoids, for the most part, the professional jargon that would turn some visitors off. The most important link for teachers is the "teaching and learning" one at the top of the page, which includes a variety of information for ESL teachers, as well as a list of links of external resources.
HOW TO USE: This is definitely a great website for ESL teachers, namely because it is research-based. I think it is a great resource for finding lesson plans and activities, plus it gives teachers some knowledge about their ESL students' languages. It is important to know a little about English students' first languages because it allows teachers to understand why their students make the mistakes they do when speaking in English. (Of course, no one expects one teacher to understand everything about every language, but this website could be a starting place.) There are also online dictionaries, many of them bilingual, which are always great resources to have.
EVALUATION: While at first glance this website seemed *too* academic, it actually has a wealth of practical information that ESL teachers (as well as other language teachers) can use. The hundreds and hundreds of links are kind of hard to navigate, but all in all, it is a very useful website.
FOR STUDENTS DESCRIPTION: This website provides a good description of English grammar, with links to "dissect" a sentence in English into subject, verb, modifier, adverb, etc. The links are easy to follow and it is written at an intermediate level so it is accessible to many students. It also provides a reference page with links to other dictionaries, figures of speech, and grammatical terms. HOW TO USE: I think this would be a good website for students to use, either in class or at home, as a reference page. While it is not as interactive as some of the other websites, it provides important information in an easily-accesible manner. It also follows the pattern of UDL and has different colors for different parts of speech. Students could use this website in class to look up information before and during the writing process, or the teacher could print off the definitions and practice sentences for the students.
EVALUATION: I believe this is a good website for students to use, even though it has some drawbacks. Some of the example sentences are a little hard to understand or too difficult for some students: for example, "Modern Man, with an eye to preserving the future of mankind through the wonders of nuclear technology, has lost his marbles." Also, the website itself, while very easy to navigate with its hyperlinked buttons, is not very eye-pleasing. However, I believe its drawbacks are not enough to dissuade students from using it as it is meant to be used--as a reference for English language learners. It has information on all the parts of speech plus style elements like capitalization, which are very important to English students.
FOR TEACHERS DESCRIPTION: This is a great website for teachers to add to their bag of tricks in the ESL classroom. It has over 100 submissions of games to play with ESL students of all ages and levels to help them remember grammatical or vocabulary concepts. It also has links to Lessons, Jokes, Online Textbooks, and Activities both for teachers and for students to use at home.
HOW TO USE: I would use this site primarily as an idea bank for lesson plan ideas. I also found a great link on the page that goes to about 150 different topics I could use for my weekly conversation group, with a long list of questions under each heading. Since I've been leading a conversation group since October, my well of ideas is about to go dry, so I'm thankful I've found this replenishing! I could give the website address for the individual practice to my students if they wanted to explore something more in depth, but I find this website is much more practical for me to use as a teacher. The list of lesson plans spans everything from the first day of class and how to introduce each other to creative reading and writing ideas. I am positive I will visit this website often!
EVALUATION: Although this website is full of great information, it is completely text-based and thus kind of boring to go through. Even the links to that describe the activities for ESL students are only text-based. Despite the design, the actual lesson plans that are presented are mostly exciting ones that involve the whole class and exist to allow students to practice all four language-learning skills.
FOR TEACHERS DESCRIPTION: "Breaking News English" is a website that should be on many ESL teachers' Favorites list. Updated often, it uses news topics (politics, health, leisure, society, entertainment) for teaching English. Each headline--and there are over 1,000!--gives a 3-4 paragraph article about a certain topic, plus an entire lesson plan already created for the teacher! It even provides audio recordings of every topic, albeit in British English. For example, one article provided the article itself, group discussion for before and after reading it, vocabulary builders, practice listening and comprehending, class surveys, and 15 homework ideas to use after the lesson is over.
HOW TO USE: While I wouldn't want to use this website for every class I teach, it is a great resource for those days when I need something in a hurry. It already provides everything I need for a lesson plan, plus practice in all four skills already built in, so I would only need to read it beforehand and make sure I have the materials needed before I present it. EVALUATION: I find it commendable that an ESL teacher wants to share her entire lesson plan repertoire with the world! There is a small "consider making a donation to Breaking News English" at the bottom of the page, but all of the material still remains free. One slight problem I have with the site is that the reading level for most of the articles (of course I didn't search all 1,000) is between low-intermediate and advanced, so I couldn't use them with my lowest level classes. The news articles are not reproductions from other news websites like CNN or ABC; they are revised to be a little easier to read for ESL students. Again, I love that the audio recordings are available, too, but I wish there were options of "American English" and "British English". On the other hand, though, maybe it would be good for my students to hear a British accent once in a while and compare it to my Southern one!
FOR STUDENTS DESCRIPTION: "English Idioms and Idiomatic Expressions" could be used as a reference webpage. It does a good job of explaining typical English-language idioms from England, the U.S., and Australia in plain English ("If someone is as 'sharp as a tack,' they are very clever"). It doesn't try to include words with a negative connotation, ones that could be miscontrued, insults, or curse words, like the online Urban Dictionary or Dictionary of American Slang, which is a definite positive for this site.
HOW TO USE: I think this a good site for learners to use after a conversation with an English-speaker in which some phrase was said that the student didn't understand, or when reading a book with a lot of idioms in it. It is always useful to be able to understand not just textbook English but the lively conversation that floats around daily, and this is a good start for any English learner looking to improve his listening and comprehending abilities. The website also includes phrasal verbs and a link to "talk to an ESL teacher!" for when they have questions.
EVALUATION: I am glad the authors of the website specified when an expression is country-specific; otherwise some misunderstanding could occur. If an English-learner used "she'll be apples" in the U.S., no one would know what he or she was talking about, but if he was in Australia, everyone would know he means that everything will turn out all right. It is important for English learners to learn the idioms of a specific country. This site could only be used as a reference, I believe, even though there are a few quizes to reinforce what one learns. Most of the site exists to give information, not practice.