Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

The Best Sites For Developing English Conversational Skills

| 7 Comments

This is the last part of a three-part series on developing oral English skills. The previous two lists were The Best Sites To Practice Speaking English and The Best Websites For Learning English Pronunciation.

You can access those two lists, as well as forty other of my “The Best…” lists at Websites of the Year.

All the sites on these lists can also be found on my website.

Of course, all these sites are also all free, or they wouldn’t be on the list.

Here, in my opinion, are The Best Sites For Developing English Conversational Skills:

Number eight is 1-Language. It offers a free audio course comprised of forty units. Each one includes a written dialogue , audio, and exercises. It’s broad and accessible.

Number seven is a tie between a number of sites that have audio and animated exercises for Beginning English Language Learners. There used to be one or two that had a bunch, but those sites recently went “down.” The ones I’d like to highlight on this list are: Jr Naver, which has a number of conversations (don’t worry about the Korean writing, it’s in English) — just remember to click on the little box within the animation so you can see the words as they are spoken; Yahoo Korea, which has thirteen similar animations though, here, click on the circle; and another Jr Naver site that has thirteen dialogues.

OmAudio is number six, and is similar to 1-Language. It also has a lot of other resources on its site.

Everyday English from the Headway series, published by Oxford University Press, has six sections on conversations, and I’m ranking all six of them at number five. They are rated Beginner, Elementary, Pre-Intermediate and Intermediate, Upper-Intermediate, and Advanced.

Number four is LiveMocha, which I’ve ranked highly on a number of other lists. It’s excellent for developing oral, and other, English skills.

English Baby! is number three. It has daily exercises, subtitled videos, dialogues, the works!

I’m putting English Listening Language Lab Online (ELLLO) at number two. It has over 1,000 audio slideshows, games, exercises, songs, etc. — all geared towards developing conversational skills.

And, now, for The Best Site For Developing English Conversational Skills…..it’s the British Council’s J@M. They have a series of excellent audio and animated stories related to everyday situations. Be sure to click on “dialogue” within the animation to see the words as they’re spoken.

My next “The Best…” list will be The Best Sites For Developing Academic English Skills and Vocabulary. Please let me know if you have any suggestions for that list, or comments and differing opinions on this one.

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Author: Larry Ferlazzo

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

7 Comments

  1. Larry,

    While I think all these sites are great — they do show that there is a BIG missing feature which would make me hesitate in saying they help “develop conversation skills”.

    Why do I say this? Well, a conversation is not a typical “learning” situation and it also entails “real” compulsive output by both people. Typically termed “engagement”. What happens at these sites is isolated learning where the response is passive at best.

    Some of them, Live Mocha or Ebaby seek to be “conversational” but really they just have become sites for the lonely hearted and there is no pedagogical/learning focus. A lot of Pizzaz. In the case of Live Mocha, from the times I’ve been there I also believe they “stage people” to promote interaction. Somewhat insincere in my opinion. Nor is there VOICE — the big pink elephant that isn’t in the room (to use a metaphor). Two way communication is crucial — in real time and with voice/audio. The net offers that, someone just has to set it up for educational purposes.

    I’m looking into a fully educational and simple audio chat room system where users anywhere in the world can simply click and join a classroom and talk. This would be really developing conversation skills – imo.

    Thanks again for letting so many know about these sites. I’m not saying they aren’t “good” or even “excellent” — just that they have major shortcomings when it comes to the conversational part.

    David
    http://eflclassroom.ning.com

  2. David,

    I couldn’t agree with your more. I’d actually say a similar critique holds true for most of the most websites I highlight because I don’t think anything beats genuine one-to-one or small group interaction.

    Larry

  3. Pingback: English Baby | Blog » Blog Archive » Best Sites for Converastional English

  4. Hi David,

    I blogged about this a little over on our site, but I thought I’d leave a comment here to say you’re right. That would be a really cool feature. Our chat rooms are really popular, but I bet people would get a lot out of chat rooms with live, real-time, Skype-style conversation.

    Jason Daniel
    English, baby!

  5. Hi ya Larry,

    I’m afraid I very much agree with David.

    Conversation is two-way spoken dialogue, most of these sites offer opportunities to chat (with fingers) but not to converse.

    xxKarenne

  6. Karenne,

    I definitely only view these sites as opportunities for limited practice, and ways for students to perhaps develop a little more confidence when they do have one-on-one conversations.

    Larry

  7. Has anyone tried adding Vivox Voice to Facebook? EnglishClub.com just added it to its Facebook Fan page and learners can enter the channel at any time to chat. Last week I spoke with students in Singapore and Turkey on the channel and it was very clear! Unfortunately Facebook is blocked in some countries. It’s worth checking out, though. You can add your own channel too.
    To try it out go to EC’s Fan Page and click on Voice Chat. Then add Vivox Voice to your page. : http://tinyurl.com/ma48w7

    It works best in IE and Firefox, but I spoke to the Vivox Voice team and they said it should be upgraded in early 2010 to work in other browsers. Hopefully this will help fill the “missing feature” that David wrote so wisely about above.

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