Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

November 1, 2012
by Larry Ferlazzo

“Ideas for English Language Learners | ‘Gangnam Style,’ ‘Emotion Words’ and More

Ideas for English Language Learners: ‘Gangnam Style,’ ‘Emotion Words’ and More is the title of my post at The New York Times Learning Network. It was published today.

I think both ELL and mainstream teachers might find it helpful….

September 22, 2012
by Larry Ferlazzo

Using “Gangnam Style” As A Language Acquisition Activity

The New York Times has published Gangnam Style, Original and in Imitation, which includes the original video that started the worldwide craze and a nice fun selection of imitations.

It offers so many different options for language acquisition:

* Showing them to students using the “back-to-the-screen” strategy — pairing them up while one has their back to the video and the other has to describe in English what they’re seeing (there’s more to it that you can learn at the link).

* Having students create Venn Diagrams and a short Compare/Contrast essay about them.

* Put students in small groups where they speak different home languages so they have to speak in English to plan and perform their own Gangnam Style performance — that could even be videotaped!

How else do you think you could use this in the classroom?


Via Alexander Russo, here’s a teacher at a high school pep rally doing his own version:

October 19, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

All My NY Times Posts For English Language Learners – Linked With Descriptions


I’ve been writing posts for The New York Times Learning Network for three years on teaching English Language Learners, and that adds-up to a lot of posts! Many include online student interactives and all include multiple teaching ideas.

I thought readers would find it helpful if I put links to them all together, along with short descriptions.

And, as I post new ones, I’ll add them here, too…

Teaching About Weather and Seasons is the topic of this lesson. It discusses using jazz chants, photos and more!

Food is the topic of this New York Times Learning Network post for English Language Learners, and it’s chock full of some pretty unique lessons. In addition, it discusses how to apply Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s concept of “flow” to those lessons and, in fact, to just about any other lesson, too.

Teach academic writing through civics and citizenship lessons around the legal voting age.  In addition, use surveys and polls to provoke listening and speaking practice.

Students put “scrambled” sentences in order to correctly re-create a paragraph from a story about schools, and are encouraged to create their own sequencing activities.    Another teaching activity is having students identify their visions for their own school and write an argumentative essay about it, as well as meeting with their principal.

Students complete a cloze (fill-in-the-gap) activity in an article about the World Cup, and use the same passage and other teaching ideas to learn about synonyms.

Learn about “articles” in the English language through a cloze activity about Mexico City and additional exercises.   In addition, a teaching idea provides suggestions on how to have students create their own itineraries for trips around the world.

This Mother’s Day interactive and supplemental activities focus on conjunctions and having students do writing about their mothers or other key family members.

Students separate run-on sentences in this interactive about International Dance Day, and use it as a model for creating their own.  In addition, they can view a variety of dance videos and write a compare/contrast essay.

Learn about punctuation in this interactive on body language and supplemental exercises, and then have students do some fun listening activities with different videos to see if people are being truthful or not.

Have students learn about nouns in this interactive on the popularity of soccer in China.  Then, have students complete (and then create their own) “scrambled” exercise where they have to place answers with the correct questions in re-creating interviews.

Students learn to categorize words in this interactive on eating insects, and then broaden their categories further.  In addition, they can watch engaging insect videos and describe — verbally and in writing — what they see.

Fill-in-the-blanks in this story about “chewing gum art” and have students create their own artwork online, which they then describe both verbally and in writing.

Complete a cloze about how animals can impact children’s heath, and then students can draw, write or even create a video about pets that are or have been in their lives.

Use a passage about fossils and dinosaurs to learn new vocabulary, practice pronunciation with tongue twisters, and practice a simple paragraph-writing framework.

Learn about comparatives and superlatives while learning about skyscrapers, as well as having students building their own as part of the Language Experience Approach.  In addition, students can use “close reading” techniques as they watch a documentary about the history of tall buildings.

Practice prediction with students as they reading about Valentine’s Day and learn about idioms at the same time.  Plus, have students create Valentine’s cards and share about romantic traditions in their home countries.

Fill-in-the-blanks in this passage about preparation for the Sochi Olympic Games, and use the event as an opportunity to practice writing and listening with a Picture Dictation activity.

Students learn about the progressive tense in this passage about the changing nature of families, and use the article as a stepping-stone to a lesson of creating family trees — with a twist!

Use this fun activity to learn about prepositions through reading incorrectly translated passages and street signs.

Learn about holiday food traditions from different cultures though a fill-in-the-blank passage and different lesson ideas.

Have students watch videos about current events and craft higher-order thinking questions about them.

Students practice the reading strategy of summarization while, at the same time, practice using humor as a language-development activity.

Students watch a short video and have to list the scenes in the correct sequence.  They can then create their own similar “quiz” for classmates and even create their own videos.

Choose the most accurate description of a picture taken at a United Farmworkers Union demonstration  and have students reflect on protest movements in their home countries and in the United States.  Use the lesson to expand to other historical photos and use them for language-development activities.

Teach and learn the past tense through a passage about John F. Kennedy, and use a text data set for an inductive lesson about his life.

Watch a video about the Mexican wrestling style called “lucha libre” and use it in a sequencing lesson.  Then have students create their own wrestling personas.

Watch a clip from West Side Story and use it for a musical sequencing activity.  Then, have students research and write about gangs today.

Learn about The Day of The Dead and Halloween, and use it as a lesson in developing  literal and interpretative questions.

Learn pronouns and the importance of learning from failures and mistakes through this interactive on J.K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter series.

Watch a video and read a passage about a girls soccer team in Mexico to learn about punctuation, and have students create punctuation games and practice reading strategies, too.

Teach the vocabulary of colors by a fill-in-the-blank passage, a discussion of their cultural significance, and the use of a Times’ “grid” of different photos that students have to describe in a game-like activity.

Learn about magic in a sequencing activity and develop academic vocabulary while exploring different illusions.

Study the use of “articles” and learn about the concept of “grit” (perseverance) through online interactive exercises.

Study the 9/11 terrorist attacks through a K-W-L chart and Venn Diagrams that lead to writing a compare and contrast essay.

Learn about mariachis and use them to kick-off an exploration of the different aspects of students’ home cultures.

Use a passage about soccer star Lionel Messi  to encourage students to create their own fill-in-the-blank exercises for classmates to complete.

Encourage students to reflect back on their class year, and provide them with suggestions on how to continue their study during the coming months.

Teaching and learning strategies about the environment and Earth Day.

Using videos, photographs and music for language-development activities, including ones to practice descriptive language and make a connection between art and activism.

Lessons that explore citizenship, including considering if there is a difference between “citizenship” and “active citizenship.”

Learn about the Picture Word Inductive Model as a teaching/learning strategy, as well as sequencing activities with videos and a fun language-learning game.

Multiple lessons focused on different holidays and holiday traditions.

Using video clips for language-development, learning about Malala Yousafsai, discussing the length of the school year and more!

Many lesson ideas about politics and elections.

A mixture of activities, including ones on idioms, recipes,  developing neighborhood tours and writing a compare/contrast essay.

Ideas on using students’ personal stories to maximize the effectiveness English-language development lessons.


October 9, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo

The Best Resources On Malala Yousafzai

'Malala Yousafzai' photo (c) 2013, Michael  Volpicelli - license:

UPDATE: Malala has been named one of two winners of the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize.

The winner of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize will be announced on Friday, and Malal Yousafzai, the youngest nominee ever, is considered by many to be the frontrunner.

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons has been awarded the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize.

It was thought that Malala Yousafzai might win, but I don’t think one can argue with the final decision. You can learn more at The Best Resources For Learning About Chemical Weapons.

Here are a number of useful resources on her (you also might be interested in The Best Sites To Learn About The Nobel Peace Prize):

You can see a lesson on her for English Language Learners that I posted in The New York Times.

Last night’s interview with her on The Daily Show was amazing. Here it is in three parts (it may be able to be viewed in an RSS Reader):

Interactive Timeline: Malala Yousafzai’s Extraordinary Journey is from TIME.

Malala Yousafzai: from blogger to Nobel peace prize nominee – timeline is from The Guardian.

How Malala Yousafzai was attacked – interactive is from The Guardian.

Taliban would again target Malala Yousafzai is an article from yesterday.

The CBC has a number of good resources.

Here’s a Breaking News English lesson on her shooting.

Teaching Kids has some good lesson ideas.

Malala spoke to the UN Youth Assembly on her 16th birthday .

Here’s a link to the transcript, here’s a quote from her talk, and it’s followed by a video of the speech itself — pretty amazing:



For Malala Yousufzai, a Nobel Prize could cap a remarkable year since Taliban shooting is from NBC News.

Malala Yousafzai: The Bravest Girl in the World is from Parade.

Malala: The girl who was shot for going to school is from The BBC.

Here’s a great artistic rendering of a quote by her. It’s from Zen Pencils:

The victory of Malala Yousafzai is from Salon. Why Malala should have won the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize is by Valerie Strauss at The Washington Post. Pakistani Girl, a Global Heroine After an Attack, Has Critics at Home is from The New York Times. Malala Yousafzai meets with the Obamas in the Oval Office is from The Washington Post. Honoring Malala is by Wendi Pillars. ‘It’s very good news’ Malala didn’t win the Nobel Peace Prize: Pakistani Taliban is from NBC News.

Malala Yousafzai


Feel free to offer other suggestions.

You might also be interested in the 1,200 “The Best…” lists available.

February 15, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo

The Harlem Shake As A Language-Learning Activity

I was crazy enough to have my English Language Learner students create Gangnam-style videos as a language-learning activity (though no one reading this blog will ever see what we created since students wouldn’t do it unless I participated and, trust me, you don’t want to see me dancing).

So, if Gangnam-style worked so well, why not jump on the Harlem Shake bandwagon?

If you don’t know, the Harlem Shake is the latest music craze. I’m planning on showing some of these videos to my students next week, have them describe what they see in writing and verbally (they can also compare the different versions), and then have them design their own. I’m sure they’ll demand that I participate when it’s time to perform. If so, don’t hold your breath about seeing the final product.

Here are a few versions (you can see more here):

Here are a couple of other helpful links:

Rules for Shooting Your Own ‘Harlem Shake’ Video

Have You Done A Harlem Shake Video Yet?

Free Super-Easy “Create A Harlem Shake App” Comes To iPhones Today