I created a version of this list about eight months ago and called it The Best “Fun” Sites You Can Use For Learning, Too. Since that posting, though, I’ve decided to make the topic one of my annual “The Best…” lists, and so here is a new version encompassing sites that I’ve learned about since April.
To introduce this list, I’m just going to quote from the first one:
These are websites that were not designed with education in mind, but which can easily be used for learning purposes — particularly, though not exclusively, for English language development. I only hope that creators of “educational” content can learn from the qualities that make these sites so engaging.
I’m not listing these sites in any order of preference.
Here are my picks for The Best “Fun” Sites You Can Use For Learning, Too — 2008 (or, at least, for the last three quarters of 2008):
This year I’ve been helping my my students learn academic vocabulary. One new word has been “interpretation” and its various forms.
“What is your interpretation of what’s in the picture?”
“It seems to me that there’s a ……”
Also, a UK newspaper has created a gallery of what they believe are the 20 best optical illusions.
Wired Magazine shares their Top Ten Amazing Animal Videos and some of them are quite entertaining. You don’t want to miss the ones about the ninja cat, the broccoli-eating hamster, or the pet hippo!
Most are from YouTube, but some of them are worth using a converter to download into your laptop or a service like EdublogsTV to show to students. They’re great for English Language Learners – short, engaging videos that students can then write about and discuss.
Your students can easily create their own dance, name it, and write a description at the Elmore City Dance Club. The link can then be posted or the dance itself can be embedded. Even better, students could then demonstrate the dance in front of the class and everyone can practice it (and then write and talk about it). Now, THAT’S what I call the Language Experience Approach!
Pictaps lets you draw a person and then turns your drawing to a bunch of dancing people having a good time. I’ve had students use it and then describe in writing what their person looks like and what’s going on in the animation.
ONLINE VIDEO GAMES:
I’ve written about how I use online video games as language-development activities with my students.
Here are a few that my students have particularly enjoyed:
Playing Big Bob’s Burger Joint is probably the most fun way for Beginning English Language Learners to gain food vocabulary that you’re going to find. It’s an online video game where the player is a server in a fast-food restaurant. All the items are labeled. The instructions are probably at an Intermediate ELL level, but I’m amazed at how much my teenage students understand when it comes to video games.
Drawminos lets you create elaborate virtual “falling like dominoes” designs and save them. Links to them can be posted on a student/teacher website and then described.
VIRAL MARKETING APPLICATIONS:
I’ve written how I use viral marketing tools with my English Language Learner students. Here are some of the ones that students have enjoyed the most:
With Spud Yourself! you can turn your image into a talking potato (or use one of the site’s pictures). By using the text-to-speech feature, English Language Learners can develop their language skills in a fun way through writing and listening. You can post the link to your talking potato on a teacher or student blog/website.
At the Candy Lab you can upload a picture, or use of theirs, to appear on an M & M candy. Then, using the site’s text-to-speech feature, you can have your candy talk or sing.
With Talking Pets you can choose a pet picture, or upload your own. Then, using the text-to-speech feature, you can have it say a short message, then email the link for posting on a blog or website.
Anyone can Sing with Juanes. Upload your photo, and choose one on the site, play the song, and sing along via telephone or computer microphone. Email your performance to a friend and post the url on a website or blog.
The KakoMessenger Singing Telegram lets you write a short song that is then sung by your choice of cheezy lounge singers. You can email it to a friend or teacher, and then post the url address on a website. Not only is it fun, but it’s good for English Language Learners because the words are displayed when they are sung.
Feedback, of course, is always welcome.