Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

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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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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June 7, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo

Create An Online Abstract Painting With This New York Times Interactive

You Made That is a pretty simple New York Times interactive that lets you create an abstract painting and then share the url address of your creation. No registration is required.

I’m not adding it to The Best Art Websites For Learning English since I’m not sure how long they’ll be keeping the tool online, but you can also see similar art sites there.

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April 2, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo

“Sketchlot” Lets Students….Sketch

Sketchlot lets students…sketch and draw online. Teachers sign-up and can create a class roster letting students log-in, and drawings are embeddable. You can read more about it at Richard Byrne’s blog.

I’m adding it to two lists:

The Best Sites That Students Can Use Independently And Let Teachers Check On Progress

The Best Art Websites For Learning English

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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

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December 27, 2012
by Larry Ferlazzo

Must-See Video: “Landfill Harmonic”

Cateura, Paraguay is a town essentially built on top of a landfill. Garbage collectors browse the trash for sellable goods, and children are often at risk of getting involved with drugs and gangs. When orchestra director Szaran and music teacher Favio set up a music program for the kids of Cateura, they soon have more students than they have instruments.

That changed when Szaran and Favio were brought something they had never seen before: a violin made out of garbage. Today, there’s an entire orchestra of assembled instruments, now called The Recycled Orchestra.

Our film shows how trash and recycled materials can be transformed into beautiful sounding musical instruments, but more importantly, it brings witness to the transformation of precious human beings.

Here’s a trailer for the movie:

Thanks to Brainiac for the tip.

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