Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

July 9, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo

Malcolm Gladwell’s New Story On The Importance Of Being A Good Listener

Photo Credit: James Vaughan via Compfight

In my books, I have useful classroom lessons on helping students become better listeners, and I also have The Best Ideas To Help Students Become Better Listeners here on this blog.

The newest addition to that list is the transcript of a talk journalist Malcolm Gladwell gave on BBC radio. The BBC just published it, and its title is Viewpoint: Could one man have shortened the Vietnam War?

The story is about Konrad Kellen, who, among other things, did interviews with captured Viet Cong guerrillas for the United States to try to figure out what the “enemy” was thinking. It’s a short enough piece that students could read.

Here’s an excerpt:

he would say that his rethinking began with one memorable interview with a senior Vietcong captain. He was asked very early in the interview if he thought the Vietcong could win the war, and he said no.

But pages later, he was asked if he thought that the US could win the war, and he said no.

The second answer profoundly changes the meaning of the first. He didn’t think in terms of winning or losing at all, which is a very different proposition. An enemy who is indifferent to the outcome of a battle is the most dangerous enemy of all.

Now why did Kellen see this and Goure did not? Because Goure didn’t have the gift [of being a good listener].

Goure was someone who filtered what he heard through his own biases.

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March 19, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo

Excellent Post On The Different “Levels” Of Listening

For Real Influence, Listen Past Your Blind Spots is an excellent post at the Harvard Business Review and discusses research related to different “levels” of listening.

I’ll definitely be adding it to the lesson on listening that’s in my new book, and I’m certainly adding it to The Best Ideas To Help Students Become Better Listeners.

Here’s a quote from the article:

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March 7, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo

Great StoryCorps Video Animations

The wonderful StoryCorps stories on NPR are great pieces to read and listen to on the radio. They also have converted a number of them into short video animations, and many of them (though not the one I’ve embedded below) are closed-captioned.

Here is one of my favorites — with the late, great Studs Terkel:

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February 5, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo

Video: “The Chinese New Year: From Fear to Festivity”

The Chinese New Year: From Fear to Festivity is the title of this video from English Central that I’m adding to The Best Resources For Chinese New Year.

More importantly, though, it’s the first English Central video that I’m embedding in my blog. It’s easy to do, and I just learned it was possible through David Deubelbeiss’ blog — check out his post with screenshots.

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July 23, 2012
by Larry Ferlazzo

The Best Ideas To Help Students Become Better Listeners — Contribute More

'090/365: String telephone' photo (c) 2008, Ben Smith - license:

This is a very short “The Best…” list. It’s different from The Best Listening Sites For English Language Learners, and is focused on ideas we can use to help all our students develop better listening skills.

I shared my best ideas, and many readers shared theirs, in my Education Week Teacher piece titled Several Ways To Help Students Become Better Listeners.

The Power of Smart Listening by Annie Murphy Paul is another good resource.

Here’s a quote from The Harvard Business Review:

For leaders, listening is a central competence for success. At its core, listening is connecting. Your ability to understand the true spirit of a message as it is intended to be communicated, and demonstrate your understanding, is paramount in forming connections and leading effectively. This is why, in 2010, General Electric—long considered the preeminent company for producing leaders—redefined what it seeks in its leaders. Now it places “listening” among the most desirable traits in potential leaders. Indeed, GE Chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt has said that “humble listening” is among the top four characteristics in leaders.

Excellent Post On The Different “Levels” Of Listening

Here’s a playlist from TED Talks on the topic of listening.

Malcolm Gladwell’s New Story On The Importance Of Being A Good Listener

Say What? 5 Ways to Get Students to Listen is from Edutopia.

Here’s The Form I Have Students Complete When They’re Listening To Their Classmate’s Presentations

I hope readers can contribute other good ideas….

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January 8, 2012
by Larry Ferlazzo

“clubEFL” Is A Fantastic Site For EFL/ESL Teachers & Students

clubEFL has fantastic resources for EFL/ESL students and teachers, including:

* A Picture Dictionary and a Talking Dictionary. These stand out particularly for all the additional interactive reinforcement activities they include. I’m adding them to The Best Beginner, Intermediate & Advanced English Language Learner Sites.

Several other parts of their site are equally as good, but I’m not adding it to that list because they include YouTube videos. I only include sites that most students can use on their own in that “The Best…” list and, since YouTube is blocked by most schools for student use, I can’t include them in that list. However, it has prompted me to think about creating a comparable “all-time” list for useful teacher sites. In our district, teachers can access YouTube, so these following pages are excellent to use in a whole class lesson using a computer projector. They have short video clips along with lots of interactive reinforcement exercises (students could use them at home, too):

Gogo’s Adventure with English, which I’m adding to The Best YouTube Channels For Learning English (even though it’s not quite a “channel.”

Learn English Through Movies, which I’m adding to The Best Popular Movies/TV Shows For ESL/EFL.

They have another site, also called a Picture Dictionary, that has mostly YouTube music videos and interactive exercises. I’m adding it to The Best Music Websites For Learning English.

They have two other features that I think are good, just not quite as useful as the ones I’ve mentioned already. They are:

Aesop’s Fables in English for language learners, which I’m adding to The Best Sites For Using Aesop’s Fables In The Classroom.

Very Short Stories and Verses For Children, which I’m adding to The Best Websites To Help Beginning Readers.

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December 13, 2011
by Larry Ferlazzo

Amazing Listening Exercises For ELL’s

As regular readers know, ever since I discovered them, I’ve believed Henny Jellema’s online TPR Exercises to be not only the best listening exercises for English Language Learners on the Web, but the best ELL activity — period.

Well, I don’t know how I missed it before, but has a number of other similar activities that are just as good:

Stepping Stones Basic

Stepping Stones VBO

Four Stories

I’m adding them to both The Best Beginner, Intermediate & Advanced English Language Learner Sites and to The Best Listening Sites For English Language Learners.

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May 4, 2011
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

“Lyrics Gaps” Is A Good Tool For ELL’s

Lyrics Gaps lets you choose a song and the language you want it sung in and then gives you the option of seeing/hearing it in different modes — karaoke, beginner, intermediate, expert. Apart from karaoke mode, you’re then shown a YouTube video of the singer, along with the lyrics on the side including blanks (fill-in-the-gap).

I especially like the beginner mode, which provides several options to chose to complete the sentences. The higher levels don’t give any hints.

I’m adding it to The Best — And Easiest — Ways To Use YouTube If, Like Us, Only Teachers Have Access To It.

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April 21, 2011
by Larry Ferlazzo

The Best Resources For Learning How To Use The Dictogloss Strategy With English Language Learners

'Dean Harvey C. Minnich talking into Dictaphone 1912' photo (c) 2009, Miami University Libraries - Digital Collections - license:

Dictogloss is primarily a listening and writing activity used with English Language Learners. It can certainly be done a number of different ways but, very simply-put, the teacher reads a short text, often one students are familiar with. Then, after the first time of just listening, the teacher reads it again and students write down notes of what they have heard. Next, the teacher reads it a third time and, again, the student writes down additional notes. The student then compares his/her notes with another student’s notes and they work together to develop an accurate reconstruction of the text — one that is not necessarily the exact wording, but that demonstrates its meaning accurately. Finally, the teacher reads it again and students judge how well they did.

Again, there are many variations on how to implement this engaging instructional strategy.

Here are few of the best resources that I’ve found on using the dictogloss strategy. They include reproducibles, research on its effectiveness, and examples of how its used in different classrooms:

The Dictogloss: Intensive listening for integrated language development from Jason Renshaw.

The Listening “Dictogloss” is a more extensive piece by Jason.

Dictogloss Procedure is by Diane Tedick.

Dictogloss is by by Willy C. Cardoso and includes a video of it in action.

Our first time with dictogloss is by David Dodgson.

Doing Dictogloss with E1s (elementary) is from Magpie Moments.

Dictations Are Fun! is from TEFL Reflections.

10 Dictation Activites for EFL classes is from Online TEFL Training.

Drawing Dictations is by Sandy Millin.

Dictation is from I’m adding it to the same list.

Homophones dictation is from The British Council.

Dictations are fun! is from TEFL Reflections.

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.

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March 10, 2011
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

Quizlet Gets Even Better By Adding Audio

Quizlet has been on The Best Tools To Make Online Flashcards for awhile. In addition to letting you create and study flashcards, it also lets you study the words in “game” forms.

They’ve recently added audio to the flashcards you make. A fairly human-sounding computer-generated voice provides the sound at a click of the audio button. It’s definitely a nice addition.

Thanks to David Deubelbeiss for the tip.

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November 4, 2010
by Larry Ferlazzo

What A Great ESL Site!

I’ve posted about the Minnesota Basic Education Site before, but it’s been quite a quite awhile.

I was recently pleased to see that they had completely redesigned it, and it looks great!

It will certainly make one or more of my year-end “The Best..” lists.

Thanks to Ed Tech Essentials for prompting me to take a look.

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June 29, 2010
by Larry Ferlazzo

July 4th Listening Activities

Thanks to Michelle Henry’s fabulous website, I’ve learned about three good listening exercises for July 4th:

Kyle: Independence Day

Frank: Independence Day

Cortney: Independence Day

I’m adding them to The Best Websites For Learning About The Fourth Of July.

I’m also adding two resources from the Orange County Register:

A graphic titled Staying Safe On July 4th

How Fireworks Get Their Colors

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May 25, 2010
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

MovieClips Gets Even Better!

MovieClips, the incredibly useful site with thousands of short movie clips classified in great ways (I’d encourage you to read “Movieclips” Is A Real Find!), has just gotten even better.

You can now create your own “mashups” of their clips. In other words, you can search for a certain them — let’s say, cooking — and put the clips related to cooking together and save them. Instead of searching for the ones you want on the site, you have them all set-up in a row.

Even better, it appears they plan on providing the ability to “trim” the clips just to the portions you want. It says “trim” right now, but it doesn’t appear to work (at least for me). Their search system for the Mashups appears to have a few kinks in it, too, because everytime I searched for something I got the message “Sorry, No results.” Then, when I clicked “Search again with less restrictions” all the results I wanted showed-up.

I’m sure these are just the typical problems of new service. But the usefulness of these mashups are worth the temporary inconvenience.

You might want to read the TechCrunch post that shares more information about future site plans.

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May 16, 2010
by Larry Ferlazzo

“10 Websites to Convert Text to Speech Online for Free”

Top 10 Websites to Convert Text to Speech Online for Free shares some good web applications.

I’m not sure if any of them are better than the ones I have listed in The Best Reference Websites For English Language Learners, but they’re certainly worth a look. That post includes one or two that I have already included in mine.

Let me know if you think any of them are stand-outs that I should add to that “The Best…” list.

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May 13, 2010
by Larry Ferlazzo

Now This Is The Way To Make Academic Talks Accessible — Great Examples Of Graphic Note-Taking

Years ago I went to a couple of conferences that had incredibly talented people “take notes” about what was happening at the conference. They did it by rapidly drawing/summarizing the important points on huge pieces of paper taped on the wall. I found it quite mesmerizing, and would often just watch what they were doing instead of who was speaking (in the same way that I sometimes just watch the amazing interpreters for the deaf at entertainment events).

I believe this technique is called graphic note-taking.

I was able to find some absolutely amazing video examples of this method that made some academic talks incredibly accessible, including one from Daniel Pink talking about his book, Drive. I’ve written a lot about Pink and his research on motivation.

Here can see the Drive from RSA here.

You can see graphic note-taking examples from other RSA talks here.

Because of their accessibility, I’m adding these links to The Best Teacher Resources For “TED Talks” (& Similar Presentations). In addition to TED, I’ve included resources from a few other groups that have accessible and stimulating presentations on that list.

Thanks to Cool Infographics for the tip.

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February 17, 2010
by Larry Ferlazzo

“Lyrics Training”

Lyrics Training looks like a neat new website using music and lyrics to help people learn English. You can read more information about it at The English Blog.

The big problem, however, is that it appears they only use YouTube videos, which pretty much makes it inaccessible to most schools in the United States (since most content filters block YouTube). Because of that, I won’t be it on The Best Music Websites For Learning English.

Too bad they don’t “rebrand” their videos like some other websites so they can be accessible.

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February 8, 2010
by Larry Ferlazzo

E-Learning For Kids

I’ve posted about E-Learning For Kids in the past, but I recently learned they changed the url address that will give English Language Learners free access to math, science, health, and language games and activities.

I’ve placed the new link on my website under Other Mixed Activities.

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