I decided to bring together, in one “The Best…” list, my picks for The Best “Fun” Sites You Can Use For Learning, Too. These are websites that were not designed with education in mind, but which can easily be used for learning purposes — particularly, though not exclusively, for English language development. I only hope that creators of “educational” content can learn from the qualities that make these sites so engaging.

Unlike many of my other lists, these sites are not ranked in order of preference.

Here are my choices of The Best “Fun” Sites You Can Use For Learning, Too:

There are several sites that allow you to write in commands that a person or animal will then perform for you. They offer excellent opportunities for English Language Learners to practice vocabulary. The most famous first example was Subservient Chicken, a marketing tool by Burger King in 2004 that is still active. You can direct a person in a detailed chicken costume at their site. At I Do Dog Tricks you can do the same to a cute little dog.

However, the best and most ambitious site of this kind is without a doubt Family Friendly Simon Sez Santa. Its supply of commands is much, much greater than the other two, and each year additional ones are added.

I’ve posted and written a lot about how I use online video games with my students by having them work in small groups with instructions (called “Walkthroughs”) on how to beat the game. There are several that are my, and my students’, favorites. These include Phantasy Quest, where you are stranded on a deserted island (here’s the Walkthrough); Sound Factory, where you get to play a musical factory worker and can save and post your final composition (here’s the Walkthrough); and all the games created by Bart Bonte (you can find the Walkthroughs for his games, and many others, on my website under Word and Video Games).

Free Rider 2 is another fun game that apparently can teach some physics. I like it because students can save what they’ve played and write about it. You can see instructions on how that works here.

There are a couple of intriguing sites that work well for vocabulary development — one is called Willing To Try and the other Color In Motion. Instead of giving a lengthy explanation here of what they do, I’d suggest reading my previous posts about them here and here.

You can design, save, and post a zillion dancing people at Pictaps. More importantly for English Language Learners, after they use the site they can write and talk about their creation.

Viscosity is just about the most engaging site on the Web to create art, save it, and then write about it. It’s worth looking at a screencast showing how to use it.

Writing subtitles for over-the-top Bollywood movies is a lot of fun at Bombay TV. You can then email the url to a friend or post it on your blog or online journal.

Have the monster of your choice send a message to a friend at the Halloween Card Creator.

Lastly, I’ve written about how I use viral marketing with my students. These are entertaining online gimmicks designed to advertise certain products. The two best ones, I think, are sites that allow you to use a text-to-speech feature to let eggs of your choice speak and the famous Monk-e-Mail, where you can dress-up a monkey and have him/her communicate a message.

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