This is latest in my “The Best….” series of lists. Like the resources on most of the others, the sites on this list can be helpful to both English Language Learners and native-English speakers alike. Certainly, all my mainstream students need assistance in developing a mastery of academic English.
One way this list is different from the others is that I don’t rank them in terms of which ones I like the best. They’re all pretty good, and I’ll leave it for you to decide which one works better in your situation. Most of the online activities are accessible to either high-intermediate or advanced English Language Learners, though teachers can use the information on the sites to develop their own classroom activities accessible to students with a lower English proficiency.
You might also be interested in The Best Sites Where ELL’s Can Learn Vocabulary.
Here are, in my opinion, The Best Websites For Developing Academic English Skills & Vocabulary:
Academic Vocabulary Games has lists of academic vocabulary words for each content area from K-10. These lists were developed by the state of Tennessee working with Dr. Robert Marzano. You can print them out as cards to be used in games, and resources are also provided to develop your own online versions.
An Academic Writing Module: Paragraphs is designed for student self-access, and has many interactive exercises.
Using English For Academic Purposes has a lot of good online activities. I found it a little confusing to navigate, though. This page has a lot of direct links to exercises. Also, you’ll find a more accessible index for this site on another entirely different site called Free Online Academic Reading and Writing Exercises. You’ll also see a number of other links to other resources there.
One of Sacramento’s own, Elizabeth Hanson-Smith, also has developed a nice interactive tutorial with a long name: Constructing The Paragraph: A Tutorial and Self-Testing Program For American English In Academic Settings.
Carolyn Zierenberg, a talented teacher at our school, put together a simple multilingual (English/Spanish/Hmong) glossary of academic vocabulary. She’s given me permission to share it on this blog and website.
This Glossary Of Commonly Used English Academic Vocabulary — English/Spanish/Hmong. took an incredible amount of work to complete.
Of course, a list like this is only effective as a supplement and follow-up to multiple classroom activities where these words are used in a meaningful way in context.
WordSift is a new visual tool to learn vocabulary. Mary Ann Zehr has written an excellent post describing it and its benefits for English Language Learners who need to learn “academic English.” I’m not going to reinvent the wheel and describe it here, so I’d encourage you to read her post and try the tool yourself.
This collection of academic word list exercises includes crosswords, matching, clozes, and more.
An article in Education Week talks about a program called Word Generation that researchers in Boston developed to help middle school students learn academic vocabulary. The program is comprised of a series of daily fifteen minute lessons, and they all appear to be freely available on their site.
They seem like decent lessons, though I’m wary of “parachuting” daily lessons into a classroom that are not connected to the ongoing curriculum. I’m more inclined to using a standard template for short lessons that can be easily adapted and connected to the thematic units that are being used in class. It’s on my “to do” list to write more in-depth about our academic vocabulary lessons in a future post, and it’ll certainly be in a book I’m writing (with my colleague Katie Hull) that will be coming out next year. That said, however, I also can’t blame busy teachers who might want to use what appears to be a high-quality series of free lessons that are all set to go. The Word Generation site also has some other useful resources, including a page on Twelve Myths of Word Learning.
Kate Kinsella is well-known for her research on helping students learn and use academic vocabulary. The California Department of Education has put a series of her videos and materials on their website.
The videos don’t at all capture her dynamism that you see in person, but downloadable “apply the concepts” materials are worth their weight in gold! And, they’re free.
Here’s a great Academic Vocabulary List from Jim Burke.
Academic Vocabulary and Haiku Deck is from ELL Teaching 2.0.
Please let me know if you have any other suggestions for adding to this list, or what you think about the ones already there.
Also, drop me a line if you have ideas about other topics for future “The Best…” lists.
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