Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

The Best Resource Sites For ESL/EFL Teachers

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Here’s another “The Best…” list, and this time it’s one that is specifically targeting ELL/ESL/EFL teachers.

And that’s why it’s called The Best Resource Sites For ESL/EFL Teachers.

Of course, strategies, resources and teaching tools that are effective with English Language Learners can be equally effective with native-English speakers. In fact, I’ll soon be sharing an article that the principal of our school and I co-wrote detailing how we think implementing English Language Learner teaching strategies school-wide helped us get out of Fourth Year Program Improvement Status.

I’ve been going through a stretch of finding it very difficult to rank sites in the recent lists I’ve put together. This one is no exception. I think all of them are excellent, and they offer different resources. Near the end of this post I share good sites that were recommended by other readers, too.

Here are my picks for The Best Resource Sites For ESL/EFL Teachers:

Even though it’s hard for me to rank the sites on this list, I have to say that one of my favorites is EFL Classroom 2.0. Begun by David Deubelbeiss, it’s an extraordinary collection of every imaginable ESL/EFL resource. David also has some strong feelings about ESL/EFL Teacher Resource sites that I generally share. I’d encourage you to read what he wrote.

I think the Peace Corps has developed some of the best materials on how to teach English Language Learners. Unfortunately, their website is usually not working so you can’t download them from there (I updated this list in March, 2010, and it was working at that time. You can download the documents here). Fortunately, the manuals are available elsewhere. The two best ones are TEFL/TESL: Teaching English As a Foreign or Second Language and Teaching English As A Foreign Language To Large, Multi-Level Classes.

There are many places that have teaching materials you can print-out. English Raven, though, I think offers particularly engaging materials and ideas about how to use them. Using their site has made me a better teacher.

The Internet TESL Journal may be the “grand-daddy” of ESL/EFL resource sites. It continues to provide a wealth of constantly updated materials.

Teaching English from the British Council is another “oldie” but “goodie” site (and it’s just been revamped). The countless resources, ideas, materials, and interactive online content make it an easy choice for this list.

The Ideas Index at Dave’s ESL Cafe has been a source of numerous lesson plans for me. They’re short, sweet, free and numerous!

All the sites on my list offer resources for free….except for one. Alta Books is THE place to find the publications and multimedia that are worth paying for.

Unfortunately, as of December, 2008, Alta began only distributing books they publish.  It seems pretty clear to me that there are two viable alternatives.

One is Delta Publishing Company, which seems to have almost as much of a selection as Alta did in the past. Delta was recommended by several people in the ESL/EFL community.

Just ordering from Amazon was the other primary recommendation. And, for that, there’s nothing better than the EFL Classroom 2.0 Bookstore. One nice benefit of using this service is that the books listed there are actually recommended by ESL/EFL teachers, and you’re not buying them “cold.”

These next two aren’t exactly websites. In fact, they’re listservs. I’ve learned a lot from them over the years, though probably haven’t contributed as much as I should have. The two are Teachers Of English As A Second Language (TESL) and the National Institute For Literacy (NIFL). Going to both of these links will offer you the chance to sign-up for their numerous “sub” lists.

Tools For ESL Lesson Planning: A Book of Techniques, Lesson Plans, Activities and Resources For Teaching ESL is the name of a free downloadable book in PDF form. It was compiled by the ESL and Citizenship Programs of the Los Angeles Unified School District.   I have to admit that I haven’t had a whole lot of time to review all of it, but from what I’ve seen so far it looks pretty good.  I’m tentatively adding it to this list.

EFL Teaching Recipes is a brand new site that immediately joins The Best Resource Sites For ESL/EFL Teachers.  It’s an extremely accessible site where ESL/EFL teachers can share their lessons, including video and images.  It’s just beginning, and I’m sure it’ll be filled-up with with ideas quickly. Go over and contribute some, as well as read the excellent ones that are already there!

Of course, it’s not unexpected that EFL Teaching Recipes would be so good after you learn who’s behind it — David Deubelbeiss, who’s blog is on The Best ESL/EFL Blogs list and who began and continues to guide EFL Classroom 2.0, which is on a ton of “The Best…” lists.

Finally, I obviously think that the Web offers a lot of possibilities for English Language instruction and learning. In one of my previous lists, The Best Places To Learn Web 2.0 Basics — 2007, I highlighted three sites as the best for helping both beginners and more advanced technology users learn how to use all the Web tools that are constantly evolving. One was Sue Waters’ Mobile Technology In TAFE Wiki. Another was Vicki Davis’ Cool Cat Teacher Wiki. And the third great site was Russell Stannard’s Teacher Training Videos. Russell’s is particularly relevant to this list because he has a number of videos showing how these tools can be used in the ESL/EFL classroom.

(Editor’s Note: I should add The Tapestry For Teachers of English Language Learners. You can read my post about it here.)

One of my favorite ESL/ELT periodicals is the online journal “Humanising Language Teaching.”  I’ve decided to add their main site, where you can access past (as well as current) issues, to this list.

Nik Peachey has written a very helpful post describing the different online communities that ESL/EFL teachers might want to consider joining (for free) and connect with other teachers. I’d strongly encourage you to read Blogging as part of the community.

Readers also had some other suggestions.

Chris Cotter suggested his own site, Heads Up English, as well as Breaking News English and ESL HQ.

Laura recommends One Stop English, Boggles World, and Nik Peachey’s fine blog. She also has nice words for this blog, too.

Learning About Learning has been added to The Best Resource Sites For ESL/EFL Teachers. It’s not specifically for ESL/EFL teachers, but it has an enormous amount of resources about teaching in general. Eventually, I’ll put together a “The Best…” list of broader resources for teachers.

The ELT Journal, from The Oxford Journals, is a very nice collection of articles that teachers of English Language Learners would find useful. The collection, titled Key Concepts In ELT, is described this way on the top of the webpage:

‘Key Concepts in ELT’ is a feature of the Journal that aims to assist readers to develop an appreciation of central ideas in ELT, and to approach the content of articles from a perspective informed by current debate on aspects of theory and practice.

The list given below is an up-to-date guide to all ‘Key Concepts’ that have been published in the Journal. The list contains links to the original articles, which are available to download free of charge (PDF file).

If you’re looking for more resources, you might want to look at the Teacher’s Page on my website.

And if you’ve found this post useful, you might want to consider subscribing to this blog for free.

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Author: Larry Ferlazzo

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

16 Comments

  1. There are a lot of sites I use in both my adult and teenager esl classes which are not on your list, but one resource which I think definitely deserves a mention here is Mike Marzio’s Real English site. Whenever my students are in the doldrums and I have a motivation problem, a good quick fix is a real english video, especially the ones for beginners. These videos almost never fail in generating curiosity and interest, and they’re easy from my point of view for classroom exploitation. My younger students, from several different countries are already part of the “youtube culture” in their native languages, and they get excited when they watch authentic video which they can actually understand, with a little bit of help from yours truly,
    Julie

  2. A great site for ESL students is AIDtoCHILDREN.com.

    AIDtoCHILDREN.com is a dual-purpose site for building an English
    vocabulary and raising money for under privileged children in the most impoverished places around the world.

    Check it out at http://www.aidtochildren.com

  3. Julie,

    Yes, I agree it’s a good site. In fact, your suggestion has made me think I should make a future list identifying the best online video sites for English Language Learners.

    As you mentioned, I think there are a lot of great sites for students that are not here. This list was focused on sites that were specifically designed to support teacher preparation.

    Larry

  4. Larry,

    Thank you for the kind words and reference.

    Julie, I wholeheartedly agree about Real English. Well done and though dated — language never dates. I use this regularly and yes, especially with lower levels.

    Is Aid the Children part of the Free Rice game? Seems like it….

    I agree, great idea to list the best sites for students and ELLs. I really think the future should be more places where learners and teachers meet together online. There is a thin line between the two….

    David
    http://eflclassroom.ning.com

  5. Larry,
    I went to the daddy efl site to download the peacecorps manuals, no luck. I kept getting an error. Any help~suggestions would be great!! I would love to look at them!

    Thanks!
    Darce

  6. Larry,

    A list for video resources is a great idea! There’a a lot out there, but it takes quite a bit of searching to come across applicable/useful material.

    Chris

  7. Thanks, some classic sites there that I hadn’t been to for a while and a couple of new ones.

    Tried to submit to the Dave’s list and got a message saying “Submissions will be accepted in 2008″. Is he semi-retired on a beach somewhere, I wonder…

  8. Alex,

    More than welcome to submit on “this Dave’s ” site.

    I have been really frustrated by trying to get a good model of teacher sharing and resource storage. Finally it hit me — the answer was right there in front of me. Why not my own site?

    On EFL Classroom 2.0 , members can now upload and share all they want. Simply hit the “SHARE” tab and then upload under the appropriate category. Find what you want and download. Leave comments about the resources. Share by hitting the other share button and send it to a friend directly! I’ll be putting up all my own games/resources there shortly, so check in…..I think this is a great model for sharing in the EFL / ESL /ESOL world and us not having to keep reinventing the wheel given how many new teachers constantly enter the profession…

    Cheers,

    Dave, not on the beach.

  9. Hi Larry,

    Great blog, and interesting topic for this thread. I was really happy to see my site (English Raven) had made your cut!

    I also followed the link to Dave’s “strong feelings” about ELT resource sites, and it got me thinking a little bit. I’ve met Dave in person – having chaired an English for Young Learners and Teenagers conference in Daegu at which Dave did a great presentation on using Karafun Karaoke in the classroom. Great guy, and genuinely full of passion for his profession.

    I love, and very much support, any site or blog that encourages and facilitates the sharing of materials – we need more of them. I think it might be a too harsh to denigrate sites that offer their ELT wares for a fee (to be fair, Dave referred to pay-for sites that are just churning out the same old stuff – but I was a little concerned the “pay for is bad” idea might become a generalization that sticks!). I do now have a subscription fee for English Raven – US$15 per year, for 3,000+ pages of material (and a lot more on the way in 2009). The site has been around since 2001 and represents 8 years of hard work and toil, and when you do the math – a teacher can come along and get access to all of that for a little more than $1 per month or a little less than 5 cents per day. All that material has been used in schools with real classes and real teachers, run through an informal action research development cycle, and improved or added to. In addition, rather than just flashcards and worksheets, a genuine effort has been made to include ideas, suggestions and guidelines on how to actually apply various materials in classrooms (and these portions – suggestions and guidelines – are almost always completely public and free for teachers to access). I certainly don’t think it is unreasonable to ask a teacher to pay a very moderate fee for access to quality materials. The very modest income this generates gives me more time to work on new and even better materials – though of course money is not the main motivation! As any experienced EFL professional will tell you – if you are genuine teacher with real principles about teaching and learning, don’t come to EFL expecting to become rich in monetary terms…

    Dave mentioned teachers buy access to some pretty ordinary materials because they are new and don’t know any better. I think that’s a good point – and if anything, rather than portraying them automatically as “poor hard-working teachers” we need to encourage them to (1) do better research on where to find the best quality materials, and (2) make a start on developing their own materials. I have met a lot of hard-working teachers, and I’ve met just as many lazy unmotivated ones who don’t care what they take into the classroom so long as it makes life easier for them…

    In any case – great blog and I’ve enjoyed reading the discussion. I’m in the process of updating my links on English Raven, so I’ll be sure to include your and Dave’s sites, as well as some of the other great ones people have mentioned in this thread.

    Thanks muchly and all the best,

    Jason Renshaw
    http://www.englishraven.com
    Author – http://www.boostskillsseries.com

  10. Jason,

    Great to hear from you and as always, very wise words which I agree with. I didn’t mean to infer any extreme and idealistic notion that there can’t be profit or at least compensation. However, as you rightly pointed out, we should direct our energies educating new teachers towards the “right” resources (in general) and also in getting them to make their own materials.

    Your presentation at the same conference was the best I’ve been to since coming to Korea! I really mean that and you should go on the road with it. If you do have the time, I’d love to get a copy of the ppt. You outlined so well, why it is so fruitful for teachers to make their own materials…the benefits don’t just come in the student’s learning but ultimately the teacher’s own competency. I grew up making my own materials out of necessity (it was so long ago! no access to anything but a Cambridge textbook!). But I’m glad I did, taught me so much about the learning process.

    I think all over the world, even our own Kotesol, we have to do a MUCH better job at basic training of teachers – real workshops and not lectures. Teaching about actual classroom delivery and not theory and description. Professional development from the bottom up.

    But I really agree that we all have the freedom to follow our own models of curriculum development and sharing. We each come to teaching with differing value sets and I don’t think any is above or better than the next. Myself, I see my activities as volunteer. What I do extra. But just like with NGOs, there are a lot of people doing volunteer who do make a living… it just depends on your own perspective/values/approach. The important thing is to give value to “help” to others and not prey on their own “need”…I’m sure we agree there…

    Cheers, keep up the great work for learners everywhere.

    David

  11. Hi there Dave,

    So great to hear from you again – you have a unique aura with your postings, in terms of motivating and making sense! And thanks for those kind comments about the presentation all that time ago – I am genuinely flattered to get a comment like that from someone like yourself.

    Reading and thinking about this issue reminded me of a peculiar trend I noticed a while ago and thought I might raise for your comment. For a very long time, the resources on my English Raven site were 100% free. In the schools I worked at and in presentations I ran, it was often difficult to get teachers to pay much attention to them or make the most of them. Funnily enough, as soon as they became ‘pay for’, they suddenly got a lot more attention and interest. One other interesting side effect of ‘pay for’ has been that I gather a group of members who almost always appear to have a deep regard for their profession and sharing ideas about materials and applications.

    Do you think this is a perception thing?

    I’ll have to rummage around and try and find the files associated with the presentation you mentioned – it’s been a while! I’m also working on uploading a ton of new resources and making a lot more teaching development videos, so I’m going to try and cross post on that great EFL 2.0 site of yours. I’m pretty sure I (and hopefully many other teachers) can make the most of both worlds (commerical ‘pay for’ and free/share)…

    Let’s try and catch up soon – I’m into my last month in Korea. After 10 years in this context, and the arrival of two children of my own, time to head back Down Under where it’s warmer, flatter and somewhat slower in terms of pace!

    Take care and very best wishes,

    ~ Jason

  12. Jason,

    I hope you stay involved in teaching and don’t spend too much time on the beach bronzing up! But I hear you about the “flatter”.

    No, it isn’t perception, you are bang on! For many years, I really have believed that and it is part of Freakanomics (also Signal37 – they have great advice in this regard) and an accepted psychological condition. People value what they pay for! And too, I think it is always good to go for quality over quantity. Too many people want to focus on “numbers” but I’d rather have a small community of teachers really interacting than a dry thing of thousands. I didn’t charge for EFL Classroom 2.0 despite the hours I put in but I did set a membership/sign up requirement for the same reasons you noted.

    Don’t worry about getting me the presentation if not super handy! However, please keep in touch about the teacher training videos – great idea and much needed. There is NO where for the thousands of new teachers annually to go, to get great explicit, video instruction. I’ll promote that any day.

    cheers,

    David

  13. Another one of The Best Resource Sites For ESL/EFL Teachers would be the huge Virtual CALL Encyclopedia and Language Learning Links Repository located at http://www.CALL4ALL.us . Please list and give it a try! Many language teachers and students will thank you too! ;) Give us a CALL4ALL (.us)
    jpl

  14. This is an excellent article which reflects the changing needs of both teacher and student. There are now many new and exciting websites coming to the fore, some small and in their infancy and others more established.

    One site that contains some good teaching materials (for young learners) is http://www.esltoolbox.com

    It’s simple in its conception but provides a range of resources that can be integrated into many themed lessons.

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