There’s a lot of debate about how much to use an English Language Learner’s native language in studying English. Certainly, a straight translation methodology all of the time is not the way to go.
However, I’ve found that, particularly with newcomers, providing them with access to an Internet resource that provides some native-language support can be a real confidence-booster. Pretty quickly, though, they often move away from those sites of their own accord.
There are quite a few newer “learn-a-language” sites that provide multilingual support from a social network. There are others that offer translation help for a smaller number of languages.
My intent behind creating this latest “The Best…” list was to identify sites that provide teacher-created content; do not require any registration; are free; and, except in one instance (where I identify what my students and I are think is the best bilingual English/Spanish site), provide resources in many languages, including ones that are not widely-used.
Here are my choices for The Best Multilingual & Bilingual Sites For Learning English:
Bilingual Quizzes From Activities For ESL Students is a project of the Internet TESL Journal. You can find a ton of quizzes using multiple multiple languages here.
Goethe Tests covers vocabulary and language tests in twenty-five different languages.
For an English/Spanish site, there’s no question that Pumarosa, created by teacher Paul Rogers, is by far the best resource for Spanish speakers.
The Cultural Orientation Resource Center has put their extraordinary collection of refugee phrasebooks online and free for download.
Here’s how they describe this incredibly useful resource:
These phrasebooks are designed to supply refugees with the appropriate English phrases and supplementary vocabulary for use in the daily activities of American life (rather than simply word-to-word translations, as in a dictionary). Phrases contained in the books have been selected for their directness, brevity and relevance to the needs of newly arrived residents of the United States. Among the nineteen units included are sections on “Giving Information About Yourself,” “Recognizing Signs,” “Dealing With Money,” “Health,” “Food,” “Clothing,” “Housing,” and “Jobs.”
Each phrasebook is approximately 140 pages and can be downloaded for free.
They are available in these languages: Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian, Cantonese, Czech, Farsi, Haitian Creole, Hmong, Hungarian, Khmer, Lao, Polish, Russian, Somali, Spanish, and Vietnamese.
GCF Learn Free’s reading site has been on several “The Best..” lists for its simple reading instruction, which is excellent for English Language Learners and new readers. They’ve kept that site, and have also added several multilingual features to specifically help ELL’s. You can visit their Learn English site here. They plan on adding many new activities there in the coming months.
Duolingo looks like it’s a pretty decent language-learning site.
Lingo Hut seems like a pretty impressive site for beginning learners of many different languages, including English. Using a drop-down menu, you can easily select your native language and the language you want to learn, and then progress through a well-designed series of exercises including reading, listening and speaking.
Vocapic is a simple and free bilingual site that lets you learn either English, Spanish or French vocabulary.
First click on the top right to indicate the language you speak now, then move down to indicate the language you want to learn. You can then choose word categories where you are provided a word in audio and text and then asked to choose the correct response among three images. It works very well if you are a Spanish speaker and want to learn English.
There’s a section on the left of the home screen which indicates that if you click on it you will learn simple words. However, that doesn’t appear to work for learning English words.
Parallel Text is a free online site that provides split screen bilingual (many languages are available) texts of a small number of public domain classic works.
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