Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

November 3, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

Video: Fun Playing For Change Version Of “Don’t Worry, Be Happy”

Many teachers of English Language Learners use the song “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” when they’re teaching Beginners the theme of “feelings.”

Playing For Change just came out with the most fun video version of it that you’re going to see, and I’ve embedded it below.

In addition, I’ve embedded a more tradition version showing the lyrics.

I’m adding this post to The Best Sites To Learn “Feelings” Words.

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June 9, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

The Best Music Videos Of “What A Wonderful World”

'What A Wonderful World' photo (c) 2006, Sharat Ganapati - license:

“What A Wonderful World” by Louie Armstrong is a super-popular song, and well-used by teachers of English Language Learners throughout the world.

This evening, Wendi Pillars shared a spoken version by David Attenborough that I hadn’t seen before, and I thought I’d take the opportunity to share the versions I’ve used with my students. I hope readers will share ones they like, too.

Here’s the version I use with my students:

Here’s the one Wendi shared:

Here’s a very unusual one I’ve share on my blog previously. It’s called “An Abridged History of Western Music in 16 Genres”:

Here’s Armstrong himself:

And here are a few others I’ve seen:

allatc offers an ELL lesson plan for the Wonderful World song.

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May 28, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

Videos: Using Art As A Language-Learning Activity

'fancy pants' photo (c) 2010, Amanda Sicard - license:

Creating art can be a great language-learning activity for English Language Learners!

We’re lucky to have an extraordinarily talented and caring art teacher — Mr. Johnny Doolittle — at our school. Every year he gives up his free period for many days to lead our English Language Learners in many different activities, including origami when we are studying Japan in Geography class; drawing when we are learning art vocabulary; and replicating a Depression-era mural we’re going to see at Coit Tower in San Francisco on our annual field trip.

Often, we combine these lessons with days when his mainstream art students help teach our newcomers — a neat opportunity for practicing speaking skills. Our class also talks, writes and reads about all the activities we do with Mr. Doolittle and his students. And since many of our ELL students don’t have much time in their schedule for electives like art, our time with his classes provides a little taste of that activity.

Here’s a video of our most recent week-long art project — replicating a mural that we’re going to see tomorrow on our field to San Francisco. Believe me, students will be looking very, very intently at the artwork when we get there and talking about it with their classmates — in English!

You can see videos of all our previous art projects at our class blog.

You might also be interested in The Best Resources Discussing The Importance Of Art In Education.

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May 21, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

The Best Resources Discussing The Importance Of Art In Education — Help Me Find More

'Coloured pencils' photo (c) 2007, Alan Cleaver - license:

Check out my Ed Week post, The Role Of Arts Education In Schools

Michelle Obama highlighted the importance of art education yesterday, I’m working with one of our art teachers on a joint ESL/art activity this week, and I have an upcoming column on the topic over at Education Week.

All these events combined to make me think it was time for a “Best” list. However, I’m not that sure what to include.

So, I’m starting off with a few links and hope that readers will contribute more:

Michelle Obama promotes arts education is from CBS News.

First Lady Michelle Obama promotes arts education program with White House talent show is from The PBS News Hour.

The Importance of Art Education is from ArtChoo!

Top 10 skills children learn from the arts appeared in The Washington Post.

Why Arts Education Is Crucial, and Who’s Doing It Best is from Edutopia.

Ten Reasons Art Education Matters

Videos: Using Art As A Language-Learning Activity

“What Are We Losing By Eliminating Arts From the Curriculum?” Is Topic Of My Latest BAM! Radio Program

Videos: Using Art As A Language-Learning Activity

Again, I know this is just the tip of the iceberg. What are your recommendations?

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April 29, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

San Francisco Symphony Unveils Must-See Redesigned Website


The San Francisco Symphony has just unveiled a newly redesigned website that’s pretty extraordinary.

There’s so much there, and it’s so accessible — music, instruments, and you can even compose your own, play it, and share your creation with the world.

The text is probably at a high-Intermediate English level. About the only way they could have made it better is if they had provided a feature to have audio-narration of the text — that would make a big difference for English Language Learners.

Because of that shortcoming, I don’t feel like I can add it to The Best Music Websites For Learning English. However, ELLs can certainly compose their own music and explain what they want it to communicate. That’s always a nice language-learning activity.

You can read more about it at a San Francisco Chronicle newspaper article.

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April 15, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

ELL Teachers & Students Will Love MusiXmatch – It Provides Karaoke-Style Lyrics To Most YouTube Music Videos


MusiXmatch is a free Chrome extension that will provide karaoke-style lyrics to most YouTube music videos. It can be used very easily on desktop and mobile devices.

Using songs, and using lyrics karaoke-style, is a longstanding and effective language-learning strategy, and you can read about many of them at The Best Music Websites For Learning English.

You can read more about it at TechCrunch.

I think MusiXmatch is a great tool. However, they’re advertising it with a video that pretty much tells you nothing about it, and may be one of the dumbest videos put out by at tech company. Because it’s so weird, I couldn’t resist embedding it below, but don’t plan on learning anything about how it works by watching it:

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March 26, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

Origami & The Language Experience Approach

'Origami 3/365' photo (c) 2012, Cali4beach - license:

In the Language Experience Approach, students do an activity and then used the shared experience to develop a group written description of what just happened, as well as using it as a good speaking, listening, and reading opportunity. It’s a great language learning activity.

Making origami can be a good task for students to do, with students either all doing the same thing or choosing different ones.

We’re very fortunate, since Johnny Doolittle, an art teacher at our school, gives up his free period each year to spend two days with my class of English Language Learners to teach us origami. Afterwards, Beginners write about what we did, and Intermediates in my Geography class do it as part of our studying Japan (see The Best Sites For Learning About Japan, which includes links to good sites on the history of origami).

Of course, you don’t have to have an art teacher show your students how to do it — their are plenty of online sites. The Origami Club, I think, may be the best site on the web for origami instructions. Both a diagram and animation is provided for each model, and they’re divided into leveled activities.

Today was the first day of our origami lessons, and you can see the video of our efforts below. Tomorrow, Mr. Doolittle will show us how to make the most famous origami creation (which we studied as part of our Japan unit) — paper cranes.


Here’s our video from the second day, and here is a comment from Mr. Doolittle sharing other suggestions for teachers who want to try this:

From John Doolittle:

The instructions I use are from:

I like the way the site is laid out. Their printable instructions are fairly easy to follow. I’ve been able to work them all out… except the “rose,” which only two of my past students have ever been able to do… after studying the youtube video.
I’m sorry to say I have ruined many fine pieces of paper in failing to complete the “rose!”

I would definitely advise teachers to make the origami model themselves before trying it with a class full of students, but it is a fun activity, and I love doing it with your students, Larry!

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December 13, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo

“PixiClip” Is A Neat Drawing Tool For English Language Learners


PixiClip is a neat drawing tool I just learned about at Richard Byrne’s blog. I’d strongly encourage you to go there and read more details about the site and see his example but, basically, it lets you make a drawing and record either audio-only or a video to go along with it. It also lets you upload an image from the web and “mark it up,” but I think there are plenty of other web tools that let you do that easily enough — and let you grab images off the web with photo url addresses (PixiClip just lets you upload one from your computer) — so I don’t think that feature particularly stands out (you can see those other tools at The Best Online Tools For Using Photos In Lessons).

But the audio-plus-drawing capability could really come in handy for English Language Learners.

For example, my Beginners are studying the theme of “Home” right now. After doing some pre-planning for a rough “script,” I could see them doing something like the recording I’ve embedded below as a novel summative assessment and may try that out next week. If we do, I’ll post examples on this blog.

Here’s my model:

I’m adding this site to The Best Art Websites For Learning English.

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November 20, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

Using The Amazing New Bob Dylan Video With English Language Learners (& Make Your Own!)


As you might have heard, Bob Dylan released an amazing interactive video of his song, Like A Rolling Stone, today.

You can see it here, and read about it here.

It has sixteen different tracks, like television channels (including a cooking channel as the above image shows), synchronized with different people in different locations mouthing words to the song. It’s got to be seen and heard to be believed.

I’m trying to figure out if and how it could be used with English Language Learners. I’ve never used the song before — the lyrics, I think, would generally be too confusing. However, the chorus is usable. I wonder if students could learn the chorus, sing it at appropriate times, and use the different tracks for Venn Diagrams and compare/contrast paragraphs?

Even more interesting, though, is that Interlude, the actual creator of the video, lets people use their site — for free — to create their own interactive videos. Here’s what I’ve previously posted about them:

Interlude lets you create sort of a “Create Your Own Adventure” video. It’s a little too complicated for me, but you can read more about it at TechCrunch.

Let me know your ideas about using the video in class — and if you’ve used the site to create your own…

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November 4, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

My NY Times Post On Using Music With ELLs


My latest New York Times post for English Language Learners focuses on using music for language development and includes a student interactive, video, and teaching ideas. One of those ideas relates to using West Side Story to initiate a discussion of gangs.

I’m adding it to:

The Best Music Websites For Learning English

The Best Sites To Learn About Street Gangs

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October 29, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo

The Easiest & Most Fun Tool On The Web For Creating Music Got Even Better — Again!


I’ve previously posted about Incredibox, and I continue to think it’s the easiest and most fun tool on the web for creating music. You can save your creation, give it a title, and share it.

Today, they announced that they completely updated the site (again), including giving it a new url address.

Of course, it continues to be on The Best Online Sites For Creating Music.

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October 9, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo

“LSO Play” Is A Mind-Blowing Way For Students To Learn About Orchestras & Musical Instruments


LSO Play is an interactive experience with the London Symphony Orchestra.

Students can learn about orchestras and musical instruments, but it’s hard to explain the many different aspects of the site.

Just check it out — you won’t be disappointed!

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September 25, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo

“Lyrics Videos” On YouTube & English Language Learners

An article in today’s New York Times titled On YouTube, ‘Lyrics Videos’ Mark a New Genre highlights an excellent resource for English Language Learners and their teachers — creative music videos that emphasize displaying the lyrics as they are sung. Of course, there are many karaoke sites that ELL teachers use, as well as other tools specifically designed for ELLs (you can see lots of them at The Best Music Websites For Learning English) but, apparently, releasing videos that are more than just the lyrics scrolling down the screen is becoming a genre of its own. And that’s good news for ELL classrooms — not only does it mean that up-to-date songs will have their lyrics displayed, but that they will also show a little creativity to make it more interesting to students.

Also, one piece of new information for me was that if you searched “lyrics video” on YouTube, you’ll find a greater number of these than if you use some of the search terms I’ve been using to find them.

Here are a few examples from the NY Times article:

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August 14, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo

Getty Museum Makes Nearly 5,000 Public Domain Images Available Online — Will Increase In Future


The Getty Museum just made an announcement:

The initial focus of the Open Content Program is to make available all images of public domain artworks in the Getty’s collections. Today we’ve taken a first step toward this goal by making roughly 4,600 high-resolution images of the Museum’s collection free to use, modify, and publish for any purpose.

I’m adding this info to The Best Online Sources For Images.

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August 1, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo

“Using Music and Songs in EFL Classes” Is The New Blog Carnival That Has Just Been Posted!

'Close-up of painted musical note on wood' photo (c) 2004, Colleen Lane - license:

Using Music and Songs in EFL Classes is the theme of the 33rd ELT Blog Carnival, and it’s a good one!

Eva Buyuksimkesyan has gathered contributions from English teachers throughout the world on the topic, and it’s so good that I’m adding it to The Best Music Websites For Learning English.

At the same time, Carissa Peck has announced the next Carnival will be published in early September and the theme will be pronunciation. Read her post to learn the details, including on how to contribute a post.

You can also send your post here, as well as express interest in hosting a future carnival.

You can see all the previous Blog Carnivals here.

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July 18, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo

Shocker To All Second Language Teachers: “Singing can help when learning a foreign language”

Results of a new study will come as no surprise to anyone who teaches a second language: “Singing can help when learning a foreign language.”

Of course, having a little more research to back you up if people question the melodic tones coming from your classroom can’t hurt. Even more info on the study is here.

I’m adding this to The Best Music Websites For Learning English.

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July 17, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo

“ColAR” Could Be The Coolest Tablet App Out There, & Here’s How I Would Use It In Class

'Crayon Lineup' photo (c) 2007, laffy4k - license:

ColAR is an extraordinary free app that TechCrunch just wrote about (see ColAR Uses Augmented Reality To Bring Your Kid’s Drawing To Life). It’s free, and lets you print out coloring pages from their site, color them in, look at them through the tablet app, and they come alive.

Watch this video and prepare to be mesmerized:

I could see English Language Learners, and other students, color in the pictures and then create a story based on the augmented reality version.

Other ideas?

I’m certainly adding it to The Best Resources For Beginning iPad Users.

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