Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

November 24, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

“Incredibox” Gets Even Better!


Incredibox, the incredibly easy music-creating site that’s been on The Best Online Sites For Creating Music list for years, has just announced its annual update.

Version Four has even more sounds to mix, and will only make it more fun for students to use. I have my English Language Learners create their tracks and then describe — verbally and in writing — why they made their particular composition and what they want people to visualize when they listen to it.

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.

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.

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.

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

STEM is incredibly valuable, but if we want the best innovators we must teach the arts is from The Washington Post.

More than reading: Integrating art into your curriculum is from Multi Briefs.

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

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.

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:

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!