I’m obviously in a list-making mood today. In this one I’ll be listing my picks for the best ten sites to help ESL/EFL students learn English.
This list will exclude Web 2.0 applications. I’ve already covered them in The Best Web 2.0 Applications for EFL/ESL Learners — 2007. And though many of the sites on this list have game-like qualities, none of them are quite as “game-like” as the ones I’ve listed in The Best Online Learning Games — 2007.
Another comment I want to make before I share my picks is that many, if not all, of these sites were around prior to this year. However, as I’ve mentioned in my previous “The Best…” posts, I’ve only blogged about them this year. So since I’m making the list, I get to list them in this year’s rankings.
My final caveat is that two of the picks on this list cost money — the only two appearing on any of my lists that are not completely free. I think they’re worth the cost.
Number ten on my list is Brainpop. This is one of the two that cost a subscription fee. Brainpop has hundreds of excellent animated movies on most academic subjects, along with online follow-up activities. This year they incorporated closed-captioning in all their films, and that’s what made me include them in this list. They have three services — Brainpop, Brainpop, Jr. (which has movies in very simple English), and Brainpop in Espanol. You can purchase a package subscription to all of them for 35 connections at a time for $795, or purchase one or two of the services at a lesser cost.
Raz Kids is the number nine site on my list, and is the other site that requires a paid subscription. For less than $60 you can have a virtual “classroom” of up to 36 students if you want to keep track of their progress. The site has a great selection of “Talking Books” at various English levels.
I’ve put Hello World English at number eight. It has a bunch of activities for Beginning English Language Learners and you can also create a virtual classroom here — all for free.
English Interactive is at the number seven spot. It has great exercises for both Beginning and Intermediate English Language Learners.
I’ve put Wordbuilder at number six. It’s an excellent spelling, vocabulary, and phonics site from Houghton Mifflin. Students are told a word, in the context of a sentence, and then have to spell it. It’s designed as a game, and there are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of opportunities to play. It’s appropriate for beginners through Intermediate English Language Learners. Audio and text support is provided.
The site I’ve picked for number five might seem a little unusual. It’s not an online interactive site, and it’s for teachers. And it’s only accessible online. It’s the Peace Corps manuals for teaching English Language Learners, and I don’t believe there are any better books out there for communicative teaching. In theory, they’re available from the Peace Corps online, but the official link is always broken, even though everytime I contact them they say it’s fixed. Luckily, the TEFL Daddy site has it posted.
The Everyday Life Project is number four. It’s sponsored by the Goodwill Community Foundation in North Carolina, and it has extraordinary interactive activities for Intermediate and Advanced English Language Learners.
I’ve ranked the Student Sites of the Oxford University Press at number three. They have hundreds of great online EFL/ESL activities for all levels of learners.
Number two is Starfall, the established site that is rivaled by no other in providing accessible literacy activities to Beginning English Language Learners.
And, finally, the site that I consider the best on the web for English Language Learners — Henny Jellema’s Online TPR Exercises. You’ve got to see this site to believe it. I can’t imagine the amount of work that went into creating the exercises. However, as he cautions, it’s critical to combine using his online activities with physical TPR lessons.
I’m sure not everyone agrees with this list, and I’m looking forward to hearing other people’s ideas…
Links to these sites, and to 8,000 others, can also be found on my website.