Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

The Best Sixteen Basic Sites For Beginning English Language Learners (Revised)


A couple of years ago I posted The Best Basic Sites For K-12 Beginning English Language Learners. For every other “The Best…” list I’ve revised, I’ve just made changes to the original post. However, even though there are a number of changes in this revised list, I’m leaving the older post as it was since there are still some good sites on it.

In a few weeks I begin teaching Beginning English Language Learners again after a bit of a break — I’ve been teaching either Early Intermediates or Intermediates for the last few years. I’m generally going to be pretty strategic about what I ask them to do in the computer lab for reinforcing activities (and for creating their own online content). However, I also wanted to identify a short list of sites I encourage them to periodically explore.

This “The Best…” list is the result.

Let me know if you think I’m missing any from this list, or if you think any that I’ve included should be taken off….

Here are my choices for The Best Ten Basic Sites For Beginning English Language Learners (Revised) — and they’re not listed in any order of priority, except for the first one:

English Central, of course, is the favorite of many ESL/EFL teachers. I’ve written about it constantly, and continue to be amazed by the site. In fact, this Tuesday morning it’s coming out with a major upgrade, which you can read about at David Deubelbeiss’ blog. And, in the unlikely even you don’t know what English Central is, here’s a short video explaining it:

Student Sites For Oxford University Press has the companion sites to all of the Oxford ESL/EFL titles. It’s a gold mine.

Cambridge University Press has a similar page. They have a smaller selection of textbook sites, but they are really exceptional.

Henny Jellema’s Online TPR Exercises has got to be on this list. You’ve got to see this site to believe it. I can’t imagine the amount of work that went into creating the exercises. However, as he cautions, it’s critical to combine using his online activities with real-life Total Physical Response lessons.

U.S.A Learns is an incredible website to help users learn English. Even though it’s primarily designed for older learners, it seems very accessible to all but the very youngest ELL’s. It’s free to use. Students can register if they want to save their work and evaluate their progress. It’s a joint effort of the Sacramento County Office of Education (SCOE), Internet and Media Services Department and the Project IDEAL Support Center at the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research.

Starfall has to be on this list, too, for its extraordinary beginning reading activities.

Kiz Club also has a great collection of accessible stories.

For other reading activities, I’m sort of cheating by listing the Fiction Stories and Non-Fiction section of my website and counting it as one for the purposes of this list. There are links to thousands of “talking stories” there. I’ve been a bit lax in keeping up some pages of my student site, but these should be relatively up-to-date.

Strivney is a free newer site for beginning readers (it has a special section for English Language Learners) with 1,000 interactive exercises and games. You need to register for most beyond the sample exercises, but it’s super easy to do so. The site also has printables you can use to reinforce the online activities.

ESOL Courses has a good, basic introduction to English.

Minnesota Adult Basic Education has a very impressive and comprehensive site.

Dance Mat Typing from the BBC is an excellent site for students to learn typing and reinforce their English.

BBC Bitesize Literacy has lots of engaging English activities.

Language Guide is a superior online dictionary.

Into The Book has interactive exercises that reinforce students learning how to apply reading strategies.

Fotobabble is my favorite all-purpose Web 2.0 site. Students can grab any photo off the web, or upload their own, and record a one minute narration that goes along with it. It can be used for speaking practice, as a formative reading assessment with students reading a weeks apart so they can see their improvement — the list is endless,and I’ve posted many times about how I use it with students.

Feedback is welcome.

If you found this list useful, you might want to explore the over 730 other “The Best…” lists and also subscribe to this blog for free.

Author: Larry Ferlazzo

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


  1. I like U.S.A Learns, its got a simple yet advanced interface for users.

    I will recommend it to many others and even use it myself.

  2. Larry,

    How about a post for the best basic sites for beginning Spanish language? I’m interested in learning Spanish considering I’m getting ready to move to Corpus Christi, Texas in a few months. Any online resources that you recommend I would greatly appreciate.

    Hope you take my request into consideration.



  3. Larry,

    What online resources do you recommend for learning Spanish? I’m getting ready to move to Corpus Christi in a few month and I understand the population there is mainly Hispanic.

    I hope you take my request into consideration. Any help would greatly be appreciated.



  4. Hi Larry,
    I agree with your list. Contains some of my favorites as well. I’m just a bit sad -being a volunteer teacher to underpriviliged Brazilian youth- that English Central is only offering the listening and pronunciation tools: the rest -which is great- has to be paid for.
    But I miss in your list 2 of my all time favorites:
    Sean Banville’s absolute goldmine: Listen A Minute (for beginners) and for the intermediate learners ‘Breaking News’. They’re both immensely helpful while teaching ESL youth. (Sean Banville has even more great stuff but I can’t say too much about it since I focused on the two mentioned above.
    There’s another site I can warmly recommend: Listen And Write. This one I’m using with all my students to train their listening skills. The site is connected to the VOA learning site, another great place to go!
    And…I love Mr Thorne’s -mainly about phonics- videos. Have a look at the immense production of this boy! And it’s easy for students to subscribe to his Youtube Channel.

    Listen A Minute: <
    Breaking News: <>
    Listen And Write: <>
    Mr. Thorne does Phonics: <>


  5. Pingback: The Best Sixteen Basic Sites For Beginning English Language Learners | ESOL 7 |

  6. Good list. I also like It’s easy for my students to navigate and there are a lot of audio exercises.

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