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…

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

December 12, 2012
by Larry Ferlazzo

The Best Resources, Articles & Blog Posts For Teachers Of ELL’s In 2012 — Part Two

Another day, another  “The Best…” list…..

You might also be interested in:

The Best Resources, Articles & Blog Posts For Teachers Of ELL’s In 2012 — Part One

The Best Resources, Articles & Blog Posts For Teachers Of ELL’s In 2011 — Part Two

The Best Resources, Articles & Blog Posts For Teachers Of ELL’s In 2011 — Part One

The Best Resources, Articles & Blog Posts For Teachers Of ELL’s — 2010

The Best Sites For Teachers Of English Language Learners — 2009

Here are my choices for The Best Resources, Articles & Blog Posts For Teachers Of ELL’s In 2012 — Part Two:

I should start off with links to excerpts on our new book about teaching ELL’s that have been published since Part One of this list was posted at the beginning of September:

Interview With Co-Author Of “ESL/ELL Teacher’s Survival Guide”

Using Games in the ELL Classroom, Part I

Using Games in the ELL Classroom, Part II

Using Photos With English Language Learners

Eight Ways to Use Video With English Language Learners

Another Excerpt From Our Book On Teaching ELL’s!

Here’s the longest name for a report that you’ll see today: Practical Guidelines for the Education of English Language Learners: Research-based Recommendations for the Use of Accommodations in Large-scale Assessments/2012 Update.  It provides some very useful research data that I hope schools and test-makers are aware of — it’s helpful for when ELL’s have to take the less than useful state standardized tests and for when they have to take tests of any kind in regular content classes.

Grading is always a tricky issue for teachers — and students. I’ve written about it, as well as guests, in one of my Education Week columns, Several Kinds Of Grading Systems.  The primary guide I use is whatever “will move students forward.”  As a teacher said in our school’s staff meeting last night, I don’t want to be a “gate-keeper.”  Instead, I want to be a coach/encourager.  Katie Hull Sypnieski and I also wrote about it in our book, The ESL/ELL Teacher’s Survival Guide.  Katie adapted it for use in most of our ESL and mainstream classes, and I thought I’d share it here. You can download the hand-out we give students.

Breaking News English, the long-time invaluable resource to ESL/EFL/ELL teachers around the world, has just undergone a major “revamp.”  Sean Banville, the site’s creator, describes many of the changes here, and you can see the first new style lesson here. There are many improvements, including tons more online interactive exercises.

Ideas for English Language Learners: ‘Gangnam Style,’ ‘Emotion Words’ and More is the title of one of my posts at The New York Times Learning Network. You can see all my NY Times posts here.

The British Council reorganized their website awhile back, and now that have all their songs for English Language Learners (including closed-captioning) all in one place. It’s an excellent resource.

Kate Kinsella is well-known for her research on helping students learn and use academic vocabulary. The California Department of Education has put a series of her videos and materials on their website.  The videos don’t at all capture her dynamism that you see in person, but downloadable “apply the concepts” materials are worth their weight in gold! And, they’re free.

In Pursuit of the Excellent Game is an excellent piece from TESOL on using games with ELL’s.

Using Photographs to Teach Social Justice is an excellent twelve lesson resource from Teaching Tolerance.  The series is particularly suited to United States History classes, and would be accessible to mainstream and English Language Learners. I would have definitely used them last year when I was teaching United States History to ELL’s, and will adapt a couple this year for my ELL Geography class.  Though I am completely supportive of the intent and message of the lessons, I’ll probably be making some minor adjustments to them to make some of the questions a bit more subtle.

As an introductory activity, I have students in all of my classes create “Who Am I?” posters which they then share “speed-dating” style (linking up in rows, show and share, and then one row moves to the right — or left — and does it again and so on). It seems to go well, and I thought readers might find it useful to see the model I use for them (as you can see, I hold few artistic aspirations :) ):

Bill Ferriter posted a link to this “Trunk Monkey Compilation.” This hilarious video is perfect for ELL’s to watch and then describe what happened, and even do Venn Diagram to identify differences and similarities:

I’ve previously posted about research discussing the value of students sharing what is happening in their lives (see The Value Of Sharing Positive Events) and have written on this blog and in my books how I apply this finding in my teaching, primarily in my English Language Learner classes. I have students write about two positive events in the week and why they felt they were positive, and one not-so-positive event and what they could have done to make it better. They share it with a partner verbally, and each has to ask a question of the other. Then I invite a few people to share with the entire class, and afterwards collect them. Not only does it help build a positive classroom atmosphere, it provides an opportunity to write for an authentic audience and it helps me learn what’s going on in students’ lives.

I can’t really say why I haven’t done it with mainstream students in the past, but I’m starting to do so this year. We always do a short reflection on Fridays and, though I might not ask them to do it every week, I’ll include it regularly.

I thought readers might find it useful to see the model I use. I’ll print it in the body of this post, and you can also download it as a student handout here that you can modify. Here’s the content:

Mr. Ferlazzo’s Journal, Sept. 7, 2012

Here are two good things that happened to me this week:

I really enjoyed school starting this week. I love my classes and all my students because they are all hard-working and smart.

I had a great time playing basketball on Tuesday night. I scored the game-winning shot, and everybody on the team wanted to pass the ball to me.

Here is one not-so-good thing that happened to me this week:

A student dropped gum on the rug in my room, and I was not happy that I had to scrape it off. I could have reminded students to throw gum in the garbage.

Feedback is welcome, including additional suggestions.

If you found this post useful, you might want to consider subscribing to this blog for free.

You might also want to explore the 1000 other “The Best…” lists I’ve compiled.

November 23, 2012
by Larry Ferlazzo

November’s Best Posts From This Blog

I regularly highlight my picks for the most useful posts for each month — not including “The Best…” lists. I also use some of them in a more extensive monthly newsletter I send-out. You can see my previous Best Posts of the Month at Websites Of The Month (more recent lists can be found here).

These posts are different from the ones I list under the monthly“Most Popular Blog Posts.” Those are the posts the largest numbers of readers “clicked-on” to read. I have to admit, I’ve been a bit lax about writing those posts, though.

Here are some of the posts I personally think are the best, and most helpful, ones I’ve written during this past month (not in any order of preference):

What Is The Best Education-Related Book You’ve Read This Year?

Create Your “Perfect Day” with “Peek”

” The best — and worst — education news of 2012″

Another Excerpt From Our Book On Teaching ELL’s!

“Celebrating our Students’ Good Writing”

The Fifteen “Twitterers” Whose Tweets I Read First

Video Gives A Sense Of What People With Autism Might Experience

Follow-Up To My Lesson On “Grit”

Wow! Check Out Google’s New “100,000 Stars”

It’s Looking More Likely That CA Schools May Get Long-Term Monies They Need, But Not For Another Two Years…

What Worked For The Obama Campaign Can Work For Us & Our Students In The Classroom

A Rube Goldberg Machine Like You’ve Never Seen Before….

Nice & Simple Bloom’s Taxonomy Poster

Terrific “New Yorker” Profile Of Diane Ravitch — & The Struggle For The Soul Of Education

” Struggle For Smarts? How Eastern And Western Cultures Tackle Learning”

“Assisting Students With Special Needs”

Latest Round Of Edits Completed For My Next Book!

Video: “Star Wars and Blooms Taxonomy Revised”

Google Creates A Rather Odd “Story Builder”

Using The “Carrots, Eggs & Coffee” Story In Class

All My Class Blogs

There Are Now One Thousand Categorized “The Best…” Lists

“Teachers as “Brain Changers””

Subscribing To Twitter Via RSS Feed

“Meograph” Just Became A Lot More Useful To My Students & Me

What Do Students Think Are The Best Ways To Assess Their Learning?

Our Grading Guidelines

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

“Instead of seeing students as Far Below Basic or Advanced, we see them as learners”

“Taking Advantage Of Neural Networks In The Classroom”

“The Victorians” Looks Like A Great Site


September 29, 2012
by Larry Ferlazzo

September’s Best Posts From This Blog

I regularly highlight my picks for the most useful posts for each month — not including “The Best…” lists. I also use some of them in a more extensive monthly newsletter I send-out. You can see my previous Best Posts of the Month at Websites Of The Month.

These posts are different from the ones I list under the monthly“Most Popular Blog Posts.” Those are the posts the largest numbers of readers “clicked-on” to read. I have to admit, I’ve been a bit lax about writing those posts, though.

Here are some of the posts I personally think are the best, and most helpful, ones I’ve written during this past month (not in any order of preference):

Participate In A Free Online Chat With Us About Our New ELL Book

“Eight Things Skilled Teachers Think, Say, and Do”

“Ideas for English Language Learners | Election 2012″

“Using Games in the ELL Classroom, Part II”

Teaching Science By “Becoming A Learner”

Series Of Good Dan Pink Videos To Use With Students

More Info On Why Inductive Learning Is So Effective

Using “Gangnam Style” As A Language Acquisition Activity

“Using Games in the ELL Classroom, Part I”

Arrogance, The Gates Foundation & The “Remembering Self”

“This Is Your Brain On Reading”

“A Nobel Laureate Writes About Becoming A ‘Science Coach’”

Everyone Should Hear This Speech From Karen Lewis

This Is The Best Piece I’ve Read So Far On The Chicago Teachers’ Strike

New Organizational Tool I’m Using This Year: Double – Sided Notebooks

“Sacramento City Teachers Association declines to participate in Race to the Top “

Evaluating Student Athletes

“” Opens To The Public

More Free Online Resources From Our ELL Book

The “Who Am I?” Poster I Use As A Model For Students

My Student Handout For Simple Journal-Writing

We’ve Decided On A Title For My Upcoming Book!

” An Interview With Paul Tough On Character & Schools”

Eight Ways To Build An Audience For Your Blog

September 28, 2012
by Larry Ferlazzo

Video: “Voting Early Style”

I’ve previously posted ideas on how to use the “Gangnam Style” video as a language acquisition activity. Even I have limits to the levels of public embarrassment I can endure, so will not post the video that our class developed.

However, students, teachers and administrators in Houston used the Gangnam craze as a tool to encourage involvement in public life. Check out this fun “Voting Early Style” video I learned about from Alexander Russo: