Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

The Best Sites For Learning About The Swine Flu Outbreak


I certainly don’t want to sound alarmist and, in all truth, I don’t feel particularly alarmed about the Swine Flu outbreak in Mexico City (perhaps I’m wrong?).  However, there’s no question that there’s a lot of coverage about it in the media. And since many of our students are from Mexico and have lots of family there, I thought I’d quickly put together a short list of sites where they and other English Language Learners could find-out more information about what’s going on.

I’ll probably add to it if the story continues…

Here are my picks for The Best Sites For Learning About The Swine Flue Outbreak (and are accessible to English Language Learners):

The Wall Street Journal has a slideshow titled Mexico Takes Precautions Against Flu.

The Journal also has a video titled Mexico Races To Stop Deadly Flu.

Swine Flu is a slideshow from Yahoo News.

Mexico City Gripped In Swine Flu Fear is a video from MSNBC.

Flu: how the latest strain spread around the world is an excellent interactive just published by the Guardian newspaper.

Here’s a story, slideshow, and video about Sacramento’s first case of the swine flu.

Questions About Swine Flu is a good video from the New York Times.

Experts Worried By Flu In Mexico is a very accessible summary of events by CBBC Newsround.

Swine Flu Outbreak In Mexico is a slideshow from The Guardian newspaper in Great Britain.

The Houston Chronicle has a slideshow called Swine Flu Scare.

The BBC has a simple question and answer page on the swine flu. So does the Wall Street Journal.

MSNBC has an even better question/answer page — it’s a slideshow.

A Race To Contain Swine Flu is a slideshow from The Wall Street Journal.

The Associated Press has a similar question/answer page.

Fighting The Flu is an interactive from CBS News.

CBS News has a short video report on the outbreak.

ABC News has a video report called Swine Flu Outbreak.

Understanding Swine Flu is a graphic and map from The New York TImes.

Global Response To Swine Flu is a slideshow from The New York Times.

CNN has several good resources, including an Explainer that give a short overview of the disease; asimple map showing its spread; and a slideshow.

Swine Flu Hits Mexico is a TIME Magazine slideshow.

Deadly Flu Outbreak in Mexico is a slideshow from The San Jose Mercury News.

Swine Flu Around the Globe in an interactive from the Associated Press.

Here’s a good, simple image that explains the disease and is from The Orange County Register.

CBS has an updated interactive on the swine flu.

Agence France Presse has an interactive graphic on the swine flu.

The Wall Street Journal has developed their own map showing the spread of the disease.

Swine Flu Infections Spread is a series of photos from The Sacramento Bee.

There’s a Google Maps “mashup” showing the geographical locations of disease reports. (Thanks to Google Maps Mania)

National Public Radio also has a map of the outbreak.

NPR has a slideshow, too, called Bracing Against The Flu Worldwide.

The Swine Epidemic Grows is a series of photos from The Sacramento Bee.

Breaking News English has a resource that provides audio support for the text. It’s called Swine Flu Deaths Expected To Rise.

Swine Flu: The Affected Nations is from The Guardian.

Flowing Data has a good graphic showing how Viruses Can Transform Into Swine Flu.

There’s been a lot of talk about the worldwide Influenza Pandemic in 1918. Here are some accessible resources related to that time:

The Baltimore Sun has a multimedia page on the 1918 Influenza Pandemic.

Lessons From A Past Pandemic is an audio slideshow from The New York Times.

The Guardian has an interactive showing how the pandemic affected London.

Here’s a map and timeline of the 1918 Pandemic from PBS.

A History Of The Flu is a slideshow from Newsweek.

LIFE Magazine has a great slideshow on the 1918 Flu Pandemic.

Major Outbreaks and Pandemics is a pretty impressive multimedia historical timeline from The Wall Street Journal.

More Cases of Swine Flu Emerge is a slideshow from the Wall Street Journal.

“Centre Of The Cell” is a very engaging and accessible interactive simulation about the outbreak of a flu epidemic in London. Users have to make decisions about what actions should be taken to get the outbreak under control. It’s like a “Choose Your Own Adventure” game — with potential “deadly” consequences.

Containment Efforts is a slideshow from The Wall Street Journal.

The BBC has a good and regularly updated map of the outbreak (thanks to The English Blog for the tip).

The CBBC Newsround has added quite a few very accessible materials on the swine flu. You can see a commercial/public service announcement about the flu that is being played in the UK at the same site.

A Guide To Understanding Germs is a great graphic on hand-washing. It comes from the Sun-Sentinel newspaper in south Florida.

On The Front Lines Of Swine Flu is a new slideshow from The Wall Street Journal.

Pandemic Panic is a new lesson plan from the New York Times. It would require modification to make it accessible to ELL’s, but it also comes with a companion lesson plan for younger students that might be more accessible.

MSNBC has an article titled Amid swine flu outbreak, racism goes viral
Anti-immigrant hatred spreads on talk radio, Web sites
. Excerpts would be good for classroom discussion.

Education World has a good printable and some lesson plans titled Kids Can Lower Their Flu Risk.

The Centers For Disease Control has some nice multilingual printables called Stop the Spread of Germs that Make You and Others Sick!. (Thanks to ESL Teachers’ Blog of Substance for the tip).

Killer Flu is an online video game that is not accessible to ELL’s (it doesn’t even seem accessible to me!), but it is interesting. You can read more about it at Water Cooler Games.

Battening Down is a slideshow from The Wall Street Journal.

Thermal Scanners Hunt For Swine Flu is a slideshow from TIME Magazine.

Brainpop has a new animated movie on the Swine Flu — it appears to be available without a paid subscription (thanks to Sara Crawford for the tip).

The Los Angeles Times has an animated map illustrating the outbreak.

Scholastic News has a short and accessible article about the disease.

Here’s an Animated Swine Flu Map.

Immigration foes link flu to Mexican threat claims is an Associated Press story that can be modified for classroom discussion.

Another good interactive graphic on the flu from Agence Presse France.

United States and Mexico Battle Swine Flu is a Voice of America Special English report that provides audio support for the text.

A Visual Guide to Flu Pandemics is a good visual historical representation of pandemics through the years. Thanks to Alec Couros for the tip.

Flu Fears Dissipating In Mexico City is an online video from MSNBC.

The BBC has a slideshow called Public Health Campaigns: A Fine Line Between Informing And Alarming.

Here’s a nice infographic from the Telegraph called Interactive graphic of how swine flu works, how you can help to protect yourself and the six stages of a pandemic. (Thanks to the English Blog for the tip)

Flu Virus Continues Spread is a new slideshow from The Wall Street Journal.

Soccer In The Time of Swine Flu is a slideshow from TIME Magazine.

Even as Fears of Flu Ebb, Mexicans Feel Stigma is an article from The New York Times. Excerpts could be modified for ELL’s.

The Scrub Club is, to quote The School Library Journal, a Web site that offers an effective and fun way for kids to learn about the importance of hand washing to protect them against influenza.  Some games are included.  It would probably be appropriate for younger ELL’s only.

Prevention Precautions
is a slideshow from The Wall Street Journal.

Should Schools Close Over Swine Flu? is a video from MSNBC.

USA Today has several really good interactive graphics about the flu.

The Boston Globe’s Big Picture has a series of photos on the 2009 Swine Flu Outbreak.

Mexico Prepares To Reawaken is a Wall Street Journal slideshow.

In Pictures: Public Health Campaigns is a slideshow from the BBC. It talks about the “fine line between informing and alarming people” according to The English Blog.

The Swine Flu AKA The Pig Flu is a simple interactive quiz created by teacher Created by Amélie Silvert. Thanks to Ressources Pour Le College for the tip.

Swine Flu In Sacramento
is s slideshow from The Sacramento Bee.

Here’s another swine flu map.

Swine flu: the worst affected nations is an interactive from the Guardian.

Measures To Combat A Pandemic is an interactive from Agence France Presse.

Swine Flu: Fighting A Global Pandemic is an interactive from Agence France Presse. It’s an “Interactive graphic comparing swine flu to other global pandemics, AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis, in terms of the number of victims and the amount spent on prevention and treatment of the diseases.”

The Financial Times has developed a fascinating interactive which demonstrates how fast a disease can spread around the world because of air travel.

The Wall Street Journal just posted a new week-by-week Flu Tracker.

Here’s an interactive health assessment to check if you might have the H1N1 flu (swine flu).

Obama Declares H1N1 National Emergency is the title of a very accessible lesson from Breaking New English.

Here’s a video report from MSNBC one the flu vaccine.

Brainpop has an updated movie on the swine flu that appears to be free — at least for now.

Brainpop Jr. also has one on washing hands.

“Watching the H1N1 flu pandemic” is a series of images from the Boston Globe’s Big Picture.

Swine flu vaccination is a series of photos from the Sacramento Bee showing…swine flu vaccinations.

Here are links to some multilingual student-created resources:

Hmong/English by Hlee

Hmong/English by Tong

Hmong/English by Tae

English/Hmong by Ying

English/Hmong by Joua

English/Hmong by Pov yaj

English/Hmong by Pao

English/Hmong by Zang

Hmong/English by Kia

Hmong/English by Steve

Hmong/English by Mai Yia

Spanish/English by Daniel

English by Richard

English by Myriam

Spanish by Ericka

Hmong/English by Kao

English/Spanish by Edgar

English/Spanish by Esteban

English/Marshallese by Calynda

We really didn’t have much time, and will be making more later in the week. Students will be sharing them with their families and other students.

As always, feedback is welcome.

If you found this post useful, you might want to look at previous “The Best…” lists and also consider subscribing to this blog for free.

Author: Larry Ferlazzo

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


  1. Thank you for this. I am traveling to Oaxaca, Mexico in June so any news I hear about Mexico makes me want to investigate it further.

  2. Pingback: Northwest » Using Media to Spread Good Health Habits

  3. Hi Larry,
    We have a free lesson on our site that, although not about swine flu specifically, is by a doctor about the spread of colds, flu, germ and disease.
    I thought it might be useful for some students or teachers.

  4. Dear Larry,

    Nice site you have. I’ve made some esl teaching resources related to the swine flu. It caters for younger learners, but also for a wide range of students. Could be useful for your readers.
    Again, good site!

    Yours sincerely
    Paul Forde

  5. Larry

    Great selection of sites …. I’ve linked to your Blog post from my own Pandemics/Learning Resources list on Shambles

  6. Mr. Ferlazzo,
    Thank you for posting these resources. As an excercise in health literacy, I selected one of your swine flu sites, the Nytimes “Lessons From A Past Pandemic” audio slideshow to analyze how usable it is on various literacy levels (
    Overall, this resource demands high levels of fundamental, scientific, cultural, and civic literacy. While my analysis is quite critical, I recognize that fact that the purpose of the slideshow is much more specific than the broader expectations of a health literacy advocate.
    On a fundamental level, the audience is required to read and comprehend advanced written and spoken English at the same time. The spoken language is quite rapid, and probably difficult for an English Language Learner to understand. The vocabulary is rich with scientific jargon as well.
    In order for the audience to gain any salient information, she or he must be fairly “science literate,” with a significant education in biology. The slideshow assumes that the audience understands the life cycle of a virus, the difference between a virus and bacteria, the scientific method of discovery, what DNA is and how it is replicated, and details about influenza subtypes (H1N1 is mentioned with no further explanation).
    From a cultural literacy perspective, in order to interpret the information provided, it is necessary that the individual recognizes the collective beliefs and customs held by the average citizen. A fundamental understanding of public health measures specific to infectious diseases and pandemic outbreaks will allow the individual to recognize the potential dangers of another outbreak and respond in an appropriate fashion. Because pandemics do not discriminate and have historically had significant impacts on many populations worldwide, it is likely that most people have been exposed to these concepts.
    Finally, the most salient civic literacy skill that is expected of the audience is the understanding that each individuals’ behaviors and choices affect others in a larger community and society. In this regard, the slideshow demands the audience to go a step beyond understanding the information to acting appropriately with behaviors that reduce the spread of germs. This message is more difficult to receive because it is never explicitly mentioned, but only indirectly implicated.
    My overall thought is that this is a very informative and dynamic resource only when directed towards an audience that functions at higher than average literacy levels, particularly in regards to science. Without significant education in specific biological and public health concepts, one would gain very little insight on the importance of the 1918 flu pandemic and its connection to the alarm regarding the swine flu.

  7. The most reliable source of information in the US is the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They endorse the official website, that covers about everything of interest to the public about the topic written in an understandable language.

    Newspaper sites and the like only offer second hand information and are thus prone to errors, rumors, and misunderstandings.

  8. Pingback: Swine Flu Resources | The Whiteboard Blog

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