Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

October 18, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

Singing, Recording & Authentic Audiences For English Language Learners

All teachers of English Language Learners know that encouraging speaking is always a “tough nut to crack.” I’ve written a lot about how I try to do it in the classroom, and how I’ve used technology to help with it.

Those tech resources and strategies have included using Instagram videos, narrated Fotobabbles to promote speaking and metcognition, iPhone apps for creating audio puppet shows, and videos for sister classes around the world.

Having students sing is a staple for ELL teachers and students, too (see The Best Music Websites For Learning English). I’ve just tried an experiment with music and tech that I think I’ll be making a regular part of my class routine now.

One of my classes is a combined Beginning and Intermediate English Language Learner one. This past week, the Beginners learned “You Are So Beautiful” (the number one song, in my humble opinion, out there for ELLs). It’s part of our unit on description words. They then performed it for the Intermediate ELLs, agreed to let me record it with my iPhone, and I uploaded it to SoundCloud and posted the recording on our class blog.

Here it is for your enjoyment:

My Beginning students developed new vocabulary, had fun, practiced listening, speaking and reading, and performed for an authentic audience. And are very motivated to do it again! What more can I ask from a lesson?

It was easy to record on my iPhone and upload to SoundCloud.

Unfortunately, its iPhone app eliminated the recording function. However, another app, Audio Copy, is set up to record and provides an easy feature to upload to SoundCloud.

I’m sure plenty of other teachers have done this before, but it was a first — though not the last– for me!

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October 15, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

What Does The Desk Say? — One Of The Stranger ELL Lessons I’m Going To Try

I’ve just heard about a Conservation International series of short videos featuring famous actors giving voice to elements of the environment — Mother Nature, Soil, Redwood Trees, Water, etc.

You can see the entire playlist here, and it’s very impressive line-up.

I’ve embedded two of them below — Edward Norton as The Soil and Julie Roberts as Mother Nature (you can read part of their scripts here).

They’re neat videos, and they got me thinking — one of the reasons ESL teachers like me have students use puppets (see The Best Resources For Using Puppets In Class) is because it makes students more willing to speak in English because it’s the “puppet” speaking not “them.”

Why not, I got to thinking, try having students pick an inanimate object and have them try to articulate what it would say if it could talk? Students could have some fun with it, including videotaping the object (maybe moving) when students are reading what they wrote.

I don’t know — it may be too “out there” but, hey, any short activity that encourages students to develop new vocabulary, speak, and have a little fun can’t hurt, can it?

I’ll bring it up this week, see how it goes, and report back.

And, since I couldn’t resist coming up with a headline for this post by playing off the “What Does The Fox Say?” song, I’ve also embedded a version of it that shows the lyrics as they’re sung.

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May 7, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

I Learn Another Great Game For English Language Learners From Jimmy Fallon


Last year, I wrote about a fun game for English Language Learners that I learned from late-night talk show host Jimmy Fallon (see Jimmy Fallon Comes Up With A Great Game For English Language Learners).

Today, I learned another one…

He calls it Word Sneak, and it’s a simple one — two people are given five words that they have to fit into a conversation.

Obviously, it’s very funny the way he uses it in this video clip, but it can also be used a nice interactive exercise for students.

I’m assuming that some other teacher has used this kind of game before so, if you have, and have some good additional suggestions, please leave them in the comments….

I’m adding this idea to The Best Sites To Practice Speaking English, where I’ve also been listing classroom speaking activities.

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January 16, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

You Can Read About An Excellent ELL Speaking Activity At My New British Council Blog

I’ve just begun publishing a monthly post at the Teaching English site of the British Council, which is the preeminent international organization promoting English-language teaching.

My first post there is about an excellent speaking/listening activity for English Language Learners — check out Using a “Three-Two_one” Speaking Activity.

british council

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January 14, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

TED Talks Unveils TED-Ed Clubs For Students

'TED Talk' photo (c) 2013, urban_data - license:

TED Talks has just unveiled a new program called TED-Ed Clubs.

I’ve embedded a video below about it but, basically, it’s designed to encourage young people to create their own versions of a TED Talk through starting a school club.

Helping students develop better speaking skills is great but, I don’t know about you, but I get tired just thinking of helping start and teach an after-school TED-Ed Club.

Fortunately, though, they seem to be open to teachers using their materials in class (some of which look decent). They published this teacher’s question:

I’m a teacher and want to use some of the TED-Ed Club curriculum to guide student classroom projects. How do I do that?

And here was their answer:

Apply to start a TED-Ed Club and we’ll work with you to figure out how you can incorporate some of the materials into your own curriculum.

So, if you’re interested, you can apply here.

I’m adding this info to The Best Teacher Resources For “TED Talks” (& Similar Presentations).

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November 6, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo

English Language Learners Using Screencast-o-matic For Folktale Presentations


This year, our School District loosened our Internet filter, so there are now many more options for tools we can use (though, of course, our antiquated tech does create some barriers).

Because of this new freedom of access without having to battle for individual sites to be unblocked, I’ve been pretty aggressive in experimenting with Web 2.0 tools to determine which ones provide the most benefit with the least “hassle” for all involved, especially with my English Language Learner students.

I’ve previously posted about some of them already this year:

Making Instagram Videos With English Language Learners

Using Freire & Fotobabble With English Language Learners

Terrific New Videos: Using English “Sister Classes” From Throughout The World In Our ELL Geography Class

Literably Is An Excellent Reading Site — If Used With Caution (I tried this out today, and I think it will work well as a formative assessment — check them out here).

The ones I’ve listed above have all gone very well — easy to use, free-of-charge, higher-order thinking, multiple language domains (reading,writing,speaking, listening), authentic audience, high levels of student engagement, minimal time commitment.

And, now, we’ve had another student success with with Screencast-o-matic.

I had previously posted about it, but hadn’t visited the site in quite awhile. Jose Rodriguez, one of the coordinators of the impressive K-12 Online Conference, recommended I try using it for the keynote address I gave for the conference in October on teacher leadership (you can see it here). I was quite impressed at the changes they had made since I had last tried it out.

All you do is register for the site, show a slideshow, and record audio — you don’t even have to upload your slides prior to recording. You only upload your entire slideshow and audio narration at the time it’s finished. You can publish it to the site and/or to YouTube, and you’re provided with an embed code.

I thought this would be perfect to my students — some knew PowerPoint and they could teach the rest quickly, so there wouldn’t really be much new to learn — I suspect, and I ended up being correct, that it would take less than a minute for students to learn how to use Screencast-o-matic.

We had just finished our Latin American unit in Geography by reading a Mexican folktale, so I thought it would be a good time to experiment. I had students create a simple storyboard (just a piece of paper divided into ten or so boxes) and asked them to tell a folktale from their own culture. They needed to end it with the “lesson” of the story. It took one class period for them to create the storyboard, about two periods to make the PowerPoint, and then they recorded on Screencast-o-matic today. We’ll watch them in class tomorrow.

Here are a few of them:

It’s been a positive experience, and we’ll definitely be using Screencast-o-matic again.

Have you had your students try it out?

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September 1, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

New ESL/ELL/EFL Blog Carnival On Pronunciation Just Published!

'dave sconda teaching pronunciation - /w/' photo (c) 2010, englishmeeting - license:

Carissa Peck has just published the 34th ELT Blog Carnival (also know as the ESL/ELL/EFL Blog Carnival) and its focus is on teaching/learning pronunciation. It’s so good that I’m adding it to The Best Websites For Learning English Pronunciation.

You can see all the previous Blog Carnivals here.

And you can express your interest in hosting a future edition of one here.

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May 5, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo

This Week’s “Links I Should Have Posted About, But Didn’t”

I have a huge backlog of resources that I’ve been planning to post about in this blog but, just because of time constraints, have not gotten around to doing. Instead of letting that backlog grow bigger, I regularly grab a few and list them here with a minimal description. It forces me to look through these older links, and help me organize them for my own use. I hope others will find them helpful, too. These are resources that I didn’t include in my “Best Tweets” feature because I had planned to post about them, or because I didn’t even get around to sending a tweet sharing them.

Here are This Week’s “Links I Should Have Posted About, But Didn’t”:

Killer Waves: How Tsunamis Changed History is an article from Live Science that could be very useful in my “What If?” history projects. I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Teaching “What If?” History Lessons.

Nicer Tube lets you show YouTube videos without the usual screen clutter or comments. I’m adding it to A Potpourri Of The Best & Most Useful Video Sites.

14 Brilliant Bloom’s Taxonomy Posters For Teachers is from Teach Thought. I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Helping Teachers Use Bloom’s Taxonomy In The Classroom.

Creating Infographics With Your Students is by Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano. I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Creating Infographics.

Dying languages: scientists fret as one disappears every 14 days is from The Star. I’m adding it to The Best Resources For International Mother Language Day.

Dispelling misunderstandings about PBL is by Andrew Miller. I’m adding it to The Best Sites For Cooperative Learning Ideas.

iWitness is a pretty amazing multimedia resource on The Holocaust. I’m adding it to The Best Sites For Learning About The Holocaust.

Brazilian Police Evict Indigenous Squatters from 2014 Stadium Site is a photo gallery from The Atlantic. I’m adding it to The Best Sites For International Day Of The World’s Indigenous People.

Flood Tools shows you, historically, how likely a particular address is to be flooded. Because Sacramento is now the most likely U.S. city to be hit by a catastrophic flood, and we teach about it in class, I’m adding it to
The Best Sites For Showing Sacramento Destroyed By Floods.

The 1040 Form Turns 100: Resources To Explain Income Taxes is from The ASIDE blog. I’m adding it to The Best Sites For Learning About Taxes.

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