Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

July 5, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

“Pairprep” Lets Students Compete Against A Friend (Or Themselves) & Lets Teachers Monitor Progress


Pairprep is a free site that has a number of “courses” (a series of multiple choice questions on a particular topic – like “ESL”) where students can compete against a friend, a random opponent, or themselves as they choose answers. Teachers can monitor student progress through a virtual classroom.

Teachers can create that classroom by choosing an existing courses through first clicking on the course name and then clicking the big read “Contribute” button on the upper right of the page. Or teachers can create their own course from scratch.

I’m adding it to The Best Sites That Students Can Use Independently And Let Teachers Check On Progress.

In addition, I’m adding it to The Best Online Games Students Can Play In Private Virtual “Rooms.” Even though the other sites on that list let students compete against all their classmates instead of just one, Pairprep is close enough to fit.

July 5, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

Guest Post: Review Of “American English” Website


Last week, I wrote a short post headlined “American English” Site From U.S. Department Of State Has Developed Into Great Resource For ELL Teachers.

Over the week, Jennie Farnell, who is the assistant director of The English Language Institute at the University of Bridgeport, sent me useful more-depth review of the site.

Here it is:

American English (app download)

Platform: Internet; formatted for mobile devices; Android app available

Cost: free

Age: middle school and up

Proficiency: beginner and up

American English is a website designed and maintained by the US Department of State. It’s a difficult website to categorize, since it has resources for both teachers and learners. It contains a sea of information and, although it has been redesigned and seems easier to use, it still can be challenging to locate all of the resources available. For teachers, there is a vast selection of resources, including lesson plans, some specifically developed for teen learners, professional development webinars and MOOCs, and research articles. There is an app available for mobile devices that run Android or Java (that excludes iOS devices and Windows phones). There’s also a Youtube channel and a Facebook page with as of the time of writing had garnered over three million likes (neither of which are easy to locate on the site – you need to go to the bottom of the page and click on the tiny link icons; both were much easier to locate by googling).

Currently, the Youtube channel seems to have slightly more resources for teachers than learners. The video content for both learners and teachers is high quality. For learners, videos offered include basic grammar, error correction, pronunciation practice, tips for learning English, and a grab bag of videos offering resources, instructions on using the app, business English, etc. For teachers, the videos mostly focus on professional development and include a plethora of information, from assessment practices to classroom management to methodology. The Facebook page is geared toward learners and includes quizzes, songs, grammar tips, etc. Finally, the app is designed for learners and includes e-books, audiobooks, songs, and a language game.

Pros: free; huge collection of resources for teachers and students; multiple methods of access (Youtube, Facebook, apps, and website);  downloadable resources for offline use;

Cons: resources are difficult to locate; apps not available for iOS devices; strong focus on American culture;

Takeaway: American English is a an incredibly rich resource, although probably most useful for EFL teachers and learners. There is a strong slant toward American culture, which is logical considering the website is through the United States Department of State. The website can be accessed in Arabic, Chinese, French, Russian, and Spanish as well as English. The Facebook page is probably most useful for overseas learners, while the cultural resources could be used for newcomers to the United States as well as for learners overseas. The YouTube channel is useful for all learners, regardless of location. The app is clearly designed with overseas users in mind, where Android devices are much cheaper and ubiquitous than iOS devices. The biggest challenge with this website is locating the various resources; it was much easier to google search for the app link and the Facebook / YouTube page than it was to find on the site. While American English can be a very useful resource, it is not one that is particularly user friendly. Students (and teachers!) may need support to access the multimedia resources, as they are not particularly obvious. However, if one has the time to dig through the resources, there is a lot to be found, and it does contain a wealth of easily accessed professional development content, which could be useful to teacher trainers and new practitioners.

July 4, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

“Word Bucket” Lets Students Learn Vocabulary In A New Language & Teachers Can Set Up Virtual Classrooms


Word Bucket has been a mobile language-learning app and has just now unveiled a website version.

It has several different languages available, and the exercises and games appear pretty similar to ones found in other sites.

The nice feature it has that many others do not is the ability for teachers to create virtual classrooms and monitor student progress. That tool, as well as the entire site, seems to be free.

I’m adding this info to The Best Sites That Students Can Use Independently And Let Teachers Check On Progress, which has grown to an insane length.

July 2, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

Three Reports Highlighting The Value Of Our Students Continuing Their Academic Career


Here are three new additions to The Best Resources For Showing Students Why They Should Continue Their Academic Career:

It’s a Tough Job Market for the Young Without College Degrees is from The New York Times.

College-Educated Workers Now Dominate the Labor Market is from The Wall Street Journal.

Importance of College Underscored by Post-Recession Jobs Recovery is from Education Week.

July 2, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

“Finding Dory,” Growth Mindset & Grit


I’ve just returned from seeing the movie “Finding Dory,” and feel like it’s the perfect movie to illustrate the best points of a growth mindset and grit, two concepts that are sometimes misused.

Here is the definition that I’m most comfortable with when talking about those characteristics:


Dory – along with Marlin and his son, Nemo – showed an enormous amount of effort, deployed numerous different strategies, and sought and received a great deal of help in the search for Dory’s parents.

You might also be interested in The Best Resources For Learning About “Grit” and ‘It’s Time to Change the Conversation About Grit.”

June 28, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

“Epic!” Provides 15,000 eBooks, Plus Virtual Classrooms, For Free


Epic! lets educators create a free virtual classroom with up to thirty students. They can then access any of the 15,000 eBooks that are available on the app (via PC, laptop, tablet or phone) and teachers can monitor what is being read and by whom.

Families have to pay if they want access to the site at home, though it’s unclear to me how Epic! can tell where students are when they are reading. Perhaps it’s based on the time of day it’s being used?

Regardless, it’s another good resource that students and teachers can use for either independent or classwide reading.

I’m adding it to The Best Sites That Students Can Use Independently And Let Teachers Check On Progress.

June 27, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

Google Unveils Lots Of New Ed Projects, Including Opening “Expeditions” To Everybody


Google unveiled a bunch of new education projects today, the most interesting (at least to me) is their opening the virtual field trip “Expeditions” program to everybody (you can see several past posts on that tool at The Best Resources For Organizing & Maximizing Field Trips – Both “Real” & “Virtual,” as well as watching the video below).

Instead of re-inventing the wheel here, I’m just going to suggest you visit two other posts:

Google opens up its Virtual Reality field trips for all, debuts new apps and services for teachers is from TechCruch, and covers all of Google’s announcements from today.

Google Cast for Education Gets Your Students on the Same Page is from Richard Byrne, and focuses on one of the new tools.

June 27, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

“American English” Site From U.S. Department Of State Has Developed Into Great Resource For ELL Teachers


Four years ago, the U.S. Department of State unveiled American English, a site for teachers and learners of the English language.

I was not impressed at the time.

However, things have changed over the past few years.

It’s turned into a treasure trove of free resources, a YouTube channel and a Facebook page with nearly 3 million “likes.”

I need to spend more time exploring the site, but it’s certainly a candidate to join The Best Three Sites On The Web For ESL/EFL/ELL/ELT Teachers list.

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