Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

October 14, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

“Emoji Finder” Could Be A Fun & Different Picture Dictionary For English Language Learners


The Emoji Finder invites you to “Search for emoticons, then copy & paste.”

I tried a number of words, and it came up with a variety of emoji icons for all of them.

I wouldn’t make it a central tool for my teaching, but I could see inviting my Beginning English Language Learners to have fun with it sometime if we had a few minutes left in the computer lab.

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April 14, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

Fun Video Useful To ELLs: “One Man Does 30 Animal Sounds”

This is a great video of a voice actor making 30 animal sounds. Even better, the name of the animal is displayed after each sound.

One way I reinforce new vocabulary is by playing sound effects games where I play sounds representing words we have recently learned (water dripping from a faucet, door opening, etc) and have students use small whiteboards to get points (that are just for fun) for the correct word. I use it when we learn animals, too. It’s easy to find these sound effects online, but playing a video like this and stopping it prior to the name showing up on the screen could be a lot more fun.

I’m adding it to The Best Sites For Learning About Animals.

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April 8, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

U.S. Department Of Ed Releases Useful Guide On Teaching Academic Language To ELLs


The What Works Clearinghouse at the U.S. Department of Education has just released an updated Guide for Teaching Academic Content and Literacy to English Learners in Elementary and Middle School.

The recommendations are good ones, and it’s always nice to be able to tell one’s administrator that you’re following the recommendations of the U.S. Department of Education :) .

Even though they say it’s for elementary and middle school, I think it’s safe to say the ideas make sense in high school, too.

I’m adding it to The Best Websites For Developing Academic English Skills & Vocabulary.

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February 15, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

“Emotions Of Sound” Is A Great Interactive For ELLs & For IB Students!


Emotions Of Sound is a neat interactive that plays different sounds, along with images. You’re then show several different “emotional” words and have to pick the one that the sound and image elicits from you. After each answer, results are shown for how many people have chosen each word. At the end of the all the questions, the site tells you, overall, how alike or different your responses were from others visiting the site.

It’s a great site for English Language Learners to use for learning feelings-related vocabulary, and would be a fun interactive for IB Theory of Knowledge students to use when studying perception.

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

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December 19, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo

Winners Of 15 Second Vocabulary Video Contest Announced By NY Times

The New York Times Learning Network has just announced the winners of their 15 Second Vocabulary Contest.

See the great videos at Words Gone Wild: The Student Winners of Our 15-Second Vocabulary Video Contest.

They’re excellent examples to use with your own students. I’ve embedded one below and you can see the rest at their post.

I’m adding this info to The Best Resources For Learning To Use The Video Apps “Vine” & Instagram (where you can also see examples from my ELL students).

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November 10, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

Having English Language Learners Use Cellphones To Identify High-Interest Vocabulary

Taking an idea I learned from Heather Barikmo at a New York Times Learning Network post, I’ve begun asking my Beginning English Language Learners to take photos with their phones of signs and/or words they see outside of school but don’t know what they mean.

To paraphrase what was in that Times post, one of the benefits of doing this is that it helps students remember that they need to be intentional about learning English all the time — not just when they’re in the classroom

We’re just beginning, and I’m planning on asking each of them to take three photo each, and then text them to me.

Here’s the first batch. I’m sure there are many apps that would do the job, but I used one called Photo Slideshow Director HD Pro to make a slideshow of the images, upload it to YouTube, and then embed it on our class blog. I was going to use Animoto, but if you pause it, the video shows a big arrow in the middle, so that wouldn’t work.

I figure we’ll show the video all the way through first without having students say anything — that way, they’d have time to see and think about them. Next, we’ll go through them one at a time to see first if other students have any idea what it might mean, and then see if they can identify any clues. Finally, we’ll clarify what it means and discuss where we might see those signs.

Here’s our first video:

Do you do anything like this? If so, how do you handle it?

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October 22, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo

Making Instagram Videos With English Language Learners

Last week, I posted the vocabulary videos made by some of English Language Learners using Twitter’s Vine video app.

Today, we tried doing the same with Instagram’s video feature, and we all liked it a lot better. It gives you fifteen instead of seven seconds and, if you make a mistake in one “scene” you can easily erase that scene instead of having to start all over again.

Like Vine, it will automatically save on your iPhone Camera Roll and can easily be uploaded to YouTube.

We’ve just begin working on a Problem/Solution essay, and used some related vocabulary words.

Here are some examples:

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October 21, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo

Teaching About Autumn

'Autumn Colors' photo (c) 2011, Zion National Park - license:

Here are new additions to The Best Sites For Images Of Fall Foliage (& For Teaching About The Season):

Autumn is gorgeous the world over is a great photo gallery from The Week.

10 Idioms Linked To The Vocabulary of Autumn is from The World Is Your Oyster.

Fall Is In The Air is a photo gallery from The Atlantic.

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October 18, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo

Creating Vine Videos With English Language Learners


I’ve previously posted a number of resources about using the video apps Vine and Instagram in the classroom (see The Best Resources For Learning To Use The Video App “Vine”).

Today, I had my Beginning English Language Learners try it out, and it went great! We used the videos as a formative assessment to determine their understanding of new vocabulary, and they loved creating them. And it was so fast and easy! Next week, they’ll be using puppets.

We used my iPhone, and since Vine is blocked by our school internet filters, I just uploaded them to our YouTube channel (Vine’s can automatically be saved to your phone’s camera roll).

Here they are:

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July 11, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo

Good Grammar & Vocabulary Interactive Exercises

I’ve previously posted about the excellent British Council Learn English Teens website. Today, I’ll like to particularly highlight two of its features.

Grammar Snacks are a series of animations about…grammar, followed by interactive exercises. I’m adding it to The Best Sites For Grammar Practice.

Vocabulary Exercises contains a lot of thematic interactives on….vocabulary. I’m adding it to The Best Sites Where ELL’s Can Learn Vocabulary.

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January 5, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

A Collection Of “Best…” Lists On Vocabulary Development

I thought it might be useful to readers if I brought together all my vocabulary-related “Best…” lists together in one post. Some may need to be updated, but even if you find some dead links, the vast majority should still be active:

The Best Sites Where ELL’s Can Learn Vocabulary

The Best Websites For Developing Academic English Skills & Vocabulary

The Best “I Spy” (Hidden Object) Games For Vocabulary Development

The Best Spelling Sites

Of course, as Robert Pondiscio points out, the best way to develop vocabulary is to read….

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October 19, 2012
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

The Best Online Tools For Using Photos In Lessons

One of my more popular “The Best…” lists is The Best Ways To Use Photos In Lessons. Though that list includes several online tools, I recently realized I hadn’t included many that I use and have previously posted about. So, I thought I’d bring them all together in a new list.

You might also want to explore The Best Sites For Beginning iPhone Users Like Me for even more online photo tools.

Here are my choices for The Best Online Tools For Using Photos In Lessons:

I’m a big proponent of the Picture Word Inductive Model as a strategy for English Language Learners to develop reading and writing skills (I describe it in detail in this month’s ASCD Educational Leadership in my article, Get Organized Around Assets). It begins with the teacher labeling items in thematic photos with the help of students. The webtool Thinglink could be a great deal to help ELL’s maximize the advantages of this instructional strategy. Thinglink lets you upload or grab an image or video off the web and annotate items with the image or video super-easily. It basically looks like a photo in the Picture Word Inductive Model, just online. Thinglink’s recently announced for educators and students that you can now annotate fifty images free, and the cost for far more is next-to-nothing.

Students can pick photos online or upload ones that are reinforcing the theme we’re studying, and label the items. In fact, you can even choose to have your photos/videos be able to be annotated by others, too!

“ImageSpike” Seems — Almost — Just Like “Thinglink”

Szoter doesn’t require registration, you can upload or grab images off the web (just insert its url address), and the final product looks just like an image would look like using the Picture Word Inductive Model.

Pic-Lits lets users pick an image from selection and then “drag-and-drop” words onto the image. The user’s creation can then be saved with a link posted, or it can be embedded. It has some elements that might make it particularly useful to English Language Learners. The words you can choose from are labeled by their parts of speech, and once you drop the word on the image you can see all the different verb conjugations and choose one. You can write a poem or describe the picture. You also have the option of writing whatever words you want if you don’t want to be limited by the words available to drag-and-drop.

Five Card Flickr Story lets you pick five photos from a group of pre-selected images from Flickr and then write a story about them. It saves your selection and story, and provides you with a link to it. No registration is required.

I take photos (and have students take photos) using iPhone apps that let you provide an accompanying audio commentary.

The best app for this kind of excellent speaking practice exercise is Fotobabble. The web version is already on The Best Sites To Practice Speaking English list, and I’m adding the phone app there, too (here are several examples where I’ve used both the web and iPhone version in class). You take a photo, provide an up-to-one minute commentary, and then can it several ways. You can email it to yourself, too, where you are provided a link to it on the Fotobabble site. You’re given the opportunity to re-record if you don’t like how it sounds on the first try, and you can make other changes to it, too. It also provides the option to embed, as I have done with this quick experiment (a photo of one of our dogs, Lola):

Another option is an app called Picle. It only gives you ten seconds of commentary, but you can choose to have it record at the same time you’re taking the photo or afterwards. It doesn’t offer an embed option, but you can link to it on the Picle website. It also doesn’t appear to give you an opportunity to re-record if you’re not satisfied with your first try. Here’s a sample – again of Lola.

enpixa is a similar iPhone app. It’s free, and you can add a thirty second recording.

Phreetings lets you search for an image (it appears to use Flickr, but I can’t be sure), drag and drop it on a virtual card, and then write something below it (it looks like you can write a lot there). You’re then given the url to copy and paste. During our study of natural disasters, for example, I can see my students finding an image labeled “Katrina” and writing a short report on what they’ve learned so far about the hurricane.

Bubblr is a super-easy tool to use for adding “speech bubbles” to online photos. ImgOps lets you do the same thing.

The Art of Storytelling is a site from the Delaware Art Museum that allows you pick a painting (they don’t use photos, but the site is so good I decided to inlude it in this list anyway), write a short story about it, record it with your computer microphone, and email the url address for posting on a student website or blog. It’s extraordinarily simple, and extraordinarily accessible to any level of English Language Learner. No registration is required.

Dubbler joins the list of several free Smartphone apps that let you record a sixty second audio caption for a photo.

Wave joins the list of several free Smartphone apps that let you record an audio caption for a photo.

Feelit joins the ever-growing list of Smartphone apps that let you record audio along with your photos.

In Looking For Assets, Not Deficits I talk about a new site and strategy called TimeSlips.

PhotoBlab is yet another Smartphone app for adding audio to your photos.

Image Quizzes is a very helpful post from Life Of A Perpetually Disorganized Teacher.

Stipple is another tool that lets you annotate photos with links to other sites or text.

PixiClip is a neat drawing tool I 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 on this list 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.

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:

Feedback, as always, is welcome. Please contribute your own suggestions on using photos in the classroom.

If you found this post useful, you might want to look at the 960 other “The Best…” lists and consider subscribing to this blog for free.

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October 8, 2012
by Larry Ferlazzo

Treasure Chest Of Ways To Build Academic Vocabulary

Kate Kinsella is well-known for her research on helping students learn and use academic vocabulary. The California Department of Education has put a series of her videos and materials on their website.

The videos don’t at all capture her dynamism that you see in person, but downloadable “apply the concepts” materials are worth their weight in gold! And, they’re free.

I’m adding this resource to The Best Websites For Developing Academic English Skills & Vocabulary.

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October 7, 2012
by Larry Ferlazzo

“PictoLang” Is A Good Vocabulary Interactive

PictoLang provides a series of interactives designed for English Language Learners (and learners of other languages) to gain basic vocabulary knowledge.

I’m adding it to The Best Sites Where ELL’s Can Learn Vocabulary.

Thanks to The Center for Applied Second Language Studies (CASLS) for the tip.

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August 16, 2012
by Larry Ferlazzo

“Szoter” Will Become A Key Tool For ELL Students & Teachers

This year, it seems like the fashionable web tool to develop is one that will annotate images. I’ve posted about several of them at
The Best Ways To Use Photos In Lessons, and there are others that didn’t make that list.

However, today, the incomparable Richard Byrne discovered what might be the best one of them all. It’s called Szoter. You can read about it at Richard’s blog and see a video there (however, at the time of this posting, Vimeo appears to be off-line completely).

Using the online version of Szoter doesn’t require registration, you can upload or grab images off the web (just insert its url address), and the final product looks just like an image would look like using the Picture Word Inductive Model (see my previously mentioned “The Best” list or my book to learn more about that instructional strategy). You can link to it or embed it, as I have done here (as long as you leave some white space around the image, the labels will still show up when you embed it):
Students are going to love using this!

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