Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

Guest Post: Gif Lingua Is An Excellent Resource For ELL Students & Teachers


Editor’s Note: I’ve invited David Deubelbeiss to write about Gif Lingua, his new site to help students learn English. You’re probably familiar with David, who I’ve said time and time again is the hardest-working person in the ELL world. You can read an earlier interview I did with him here. He also began EFL Classroom 2.0, and has been a mover-and-shaker at English Central.

Larry, thanks for letting me tell your community a little about Gif Lingua.

It’s my new passion and something I believe will compliment any teacher’s classroom lessons.

So, what is Gif Lingua? 

It’s a library of “Gif” Books. Over 3,000 leveled readers on all sorts of topics. Students read and write books, complete comprehension quizzes, study Quizlet sets for each book and watch teacher curated videos that compliment each book.  It will always be free for all students in the world to read and study Gif Lingua books. However students will have to be registered or part of a class to do books with comprehension quizzes.    New books added daily. Visit the library.

Come again? What’s a Gif Book?

A gif book is a collection of gifs on a topic with text and audio. Students read the book on any device. There is also a special web app and iOS / Android apps around the corner (waiting for store approval).  Teachers can copy books and change the text and republish for their own class. Students can search for gifs, add text and publish and share their own gif books.

Try this example about “Things We Borrow”.

Why Gif Lingua?

You may think it is crazy – but that’s what I love about the idea. I’ve had a long career in education. Now at the twilight of that career, I am convinced of the primacy and need to foster student basic literacy. Also the importance of extensive reading and reading for pleasure – for any student – ELL or mainstream.  I wanted to build a home for curious minds and where “genius hour” and “learning in depth” would be a reality.   Gifs are the perfect language learning object and their very nature as an educational material have made my dream a reality. Student love and are very engaged when learning with educational gifs.

I’ll also add that the overall goal is to create a gif corpus and dictionary. We already have gifs tagged to over 75,000 lexical terms.  Gifs are essentially “ideographs” that instantly communicate a language point. This corpus is accessible through the web app – just punch in a search term for a word or expression. We are continuing to improve this database of educational gifs and will at some point release it for use by curriculum designers and publishers.

What’s in it for teachers?  

Teachers can use the full LMS to create student accounts, assign students books to read, assess student written books on a class page, get full reports on student reading and quiz completion.  Plus (and most importantly), teachers can download the books (epub and pptx) to use offline or put up on the school platform for students to download. Also, expertly designed “printables” for each book.  An instant resource library for a school or teacher.

How can I sign up?  How can I help?

I can’t do it all alone!  I’ve always been working with teachers from the ground up – be that with EFL Classroom 2.0 or EnglishCentral.  Gif Lingua will be the same. Every teacher counts.

Teacherssign up and check out the LMS and get students using it.  We will still be beta until Jan. 1st, 2018. So no charge to use and abuse.  $25 for a year access to all the printables.

Please contact me through the site with feedback or any partnership interest. We offer school and district licenses. Even set up a white label version for any school or district.

Are there books in other languages?

Not yet but planned.  You’ll see other languages available on the site but currently only a few books in some languages.  The plan is to reach out to MFL teachers this fall and get them to copy the English books, translate and republish in the new language. Spanish, French, Italian etc …. You can try that out yourself right now! But please make sure your translations are good!  Stay tuned for book libraries in other languages.

What’s next?

Great question.

I’m coding, creating content and managing the platform almost all on my own!

So I’m really looking for partners who see the possibilities of the platform and can help with marketing and making it into a viable business while keeping the cost very low for hard working teachers. Let’s connect – be you a company, publisher or an excited edupreneur.

I’d also like to offer the platform to foundations, NGOs and poor schools around the world for free – with the support of sponsors.  It’s built on agile and modern architecture (Laravel) and once we finish optimizing all gifs to webm and mp4 – they’ll play and load fast in even the most slow and challenged broadband environments.

Anything else?

Nope.  Just check out the HELP pages to get questions answered and view video tutorials.

If you want to get informed when new books are published – subscribe. No spam ever.

Thanks for reading and see you on Gif Lingua!


Author: Larry Ferlazzo

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


  1. Hi Larry,

    I always enjoy your resources and am so grateful for them! However, I am not impressed with GifLingua… I registered and chose the book ‘The Gingerbread Man’. It was so poorly done! The voice was robotic…probably was a robot…and the writing was awful, with simplistic language and errors (over instead of oven!). I don’t think this a good resource for ELs at all!


    Tina Krenov

    • Hi, Tina,

      Glad you’ve found the resources helpful. Sorry you had a bad experience at Gif Lingua. The books that I’ve seen have looked good. I’ve sent an email asking David to respond here.


  2. Hi Tina,

    Thank you for your feedback and we’ve corrected the error in the book. .

    The voices can be turned off or changed (see the settings for every book). But, voices are dependent on what device you are using and usually internal voices will override our own. However you can default to our own voices which I can assure you are the best commercially available.

    About the language of each book. It is dependent on the book level. In this case, the book is level 3 (B1) and the language is appropriate for that level. However, teachers can copy books and republish with their own changes and version. It’s easy, just click “Copy” in the settings.

    We are at the beginning of a journey and your feedback is appreciated. Gif Lingua is a free service where students can read and write books that are supported with appropriate context and tools for study (quizzes, games, flashcards, videos). If you do want a paid platform – please check out EnglishCentral – . I’ve been busy building this to support classroom teachers with authentic media for student self-study.

    I do hope you’ll dig deeper into Gif Lingua. There is a lot more beyond the surface.

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