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The Best Web 2.0 Applications for ESL/EFL Learners — 2007

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As I promised in  my previous post on the Best Web 2.0 Applications for Education — 2007, here’s my next “Best of..” list — the Web 2.0 applications that I think are most helpful to English Language Learners.  I only considered sites that could be easily used by a Beginning English Language Learner or by a teacher who only knew how to email and copy and paste.  These sites could also be helpful to younger native-English speakers.

Over half of the list contains the same sites as the ones in the overall education list, but not in the same order.

And, as in my previous list, some of these applications were around prior to 2007.  However, since I didn’t start blogging until ten months ago, I’m still considering them eligible for my 2007 list.

The next item on my agenda is compiling one for the best online learning games of this year.

And now, for the top fifteen (again, another strange number):

Number fifteen is one that was on my previous list.  They are really two sites that are connected — SMILE and CLEAR.  They’re both from Michigan State University, and allow teachers (and students) to easily create clozes, drag-and-drop exercises,  and sequencing activities.  They also allow you to use audio and video with the activities, and will host them as well.

The fourteenth site on my list is Community Walk.  Students can put many sites on a map with descriptions and images (which can be easily grabbed off the web).  Students can use this to describe field trips, report on historical events, and do other mapping applications.  There are a lot of these kinds of sites, but I’ve found Community Walk to be the easiest to use. This also appeared on the other “Best of…” list.

The site occupying the thirteen slot is a new one called Blabberize.  It allows you to upload a picture of a person or animal and easily record a message that the picture speaks.  The lips on the image move in an exaggerated way as your message is being played.  It’s a fun way for English Language Learners to practice speaking and hear what they say.  Once the site creators add the feature (which they say they will) of being able to grab an image off the Internet and not just upload one from your computer, I’ll move this site up the ranking.

Number twelve is also a new one — Jottit.  I’d be surprised if someone could come up with an easier way for people to create a website.  Students can easily post links to many of their own online creations here so a teacher doesn’t have to spend time posting them.

The eleventh best is another repeat from my other list –CircaVie.  I think it’s the easiest online application for creating timelines and incorporating images.  It can be used in any number of lessons. (unfortunately, it appears like this web tool is shutting down).

ESL Video is the tenth best and, again, appeared on my other list.  It’s super-easy to take pretty much any video off-the-net and create a quiz to it.

Number nine is a new one called Sims On Stage.  I had originally posted about it when it was called “Singshot” and only featured karaoke.  It now includes other activites users can do, but I’m still most impressed by its karaoke capability.  Instead of going into detail here about how it works, you might want to read my original post about it.

Number eight is yet another repeat –  One True Media.  It’s a very easy way to create slideshows on the Web, and add text, music and images.

Number seven is a new one.  It’s called Dvolver MovieMaker.  Students can easily and quickly make short animated films and write dialogue for their characters.

Imagination Cubed from General Electric is the sixth-ranked site on my list.  Students can use it for so many things — draw and label solar systems, write and send E-Cards, etc. — it’s a “must” for ESL/EFL teachers.  It’s a little hard to describe, so you might want to check it out for yourself.

Number five is called Show Beyond.  This is similar to VoiceThread in allowing audio narration of slideshows,  but doesn’t allow audio comments like VoiceThread.  You can also add music and text. It’s particularly good in District’s, like ours, that block streaming media (like VoiceThread).

Scribd is number four.  This site allows students to type a document with illustrations on their computer, easily upload it to Scribd in seconds, and then the site immediately posts the document on the Internet with audio speaking the text. ( (Unfortunately, Scribd has eliminated this feature from its site, so I’m also removing it from this list)

Number three is Bookr.  It would be difficult to create an easier application to make slideshows with captions on the web.  The only drawback to it is you can only use images off Flickr, and not others on the Web, but that’s a small price to pay for such an accessible application.

The number two site on my list is Daft Doggy.  It allows you to create website tours — a series of websites where you also leave your own descriptive text or instructions on each page.  You can use it to create Internet scavenger hunts.   Visitors can also leave comments.  The site’s creator has a different part of his site where you can easily make voice recordings and email them, and plans to connect that ability up to the webtours soon so visitors can leave audio comments. Even without that ability to connect to the web tours,  that feature is the easiest place on the web for students to record themselves.

And now for my choice as the best Web 2.0 application for ESL/EFL students — VoiceThread.   You can upload pictures and create an audio narrative to go along with them.  In addition, audio comments can be left by visitors.  VoiceThread also provides a great deal to teachers by allowing them to get their premium services for free, including allowing them to create a zillion VoiceThreads for free.  Happily, they’ve finally incorporated the feature of allowing you to include images off the web just by inserting its url.  It’s that new feature that made me choose VoiceThread as number one.

Of course, there’s plenty of room for discussion with these kinds of lists.  Any feedback is welcome.

Links to these sites, and many others, can also be found on my Examples of Student Work webpage.

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Author: Larry Ferlazzo

I'm a high school teacher in Sacramento, CA.

8 Comments

  1. Dear Larry,
    A year ago, when we first launched our comic strip generator — http://www.MakeBeliefsComix.com — you were among the first to give us your support and encouragement in providing a useful educational resource for ESOL and literacy students.
    We have just upgraded the site to enable users to also write their comics in Spanish as well as in English — a request made by many educators — and we have added more fun characters in response to user suggestions. Since the site was launched more 150,000 educators in more than 150 countries are using our free resource to encourage writing, reading and literacy.
    I hope you will try out our new features and share them with your community of readers.
    All good wishes to you.
    Bill Zimmerman

  2. Thank you for researching and writing this illuminating article. You’ve given me a gentle nudge to upgrade my teaching and technology skills during our holiday break!

  3. would it maybe have been a more beneficial and /or appropriate

    feature of the TWO lists to A have included a features scale/ table

    ie 3 or 4 ppoints/features and rate which recommendations OF YOURS ie which number 7 , 5…. included this feature and HOW GOOD it was within that feature

    B have used a basic table or spreadsheet to include the above info ??

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  7. Highly interesting. I liked a lot Voice Thread.

  8. Hi Larry!
    Out of all the websites mentioned, even I like Voice Thread is excellent. I can try using it and creating my own lessons.
    Sanjay Arora

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