Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

The Best Online Learning Games — 2008


This is the first of several year-end “The Best…” lists I’m writing.

In order to make it on this list, games had to:

* be accessible to English Language Learners.

* provide exceptionally engaging content.

* not provide access to other non-educational games on their site.

* be seen by me during 2008. So they might have been around prior to this time, but I’m still counting them in this year’s list.

It’s quite a diverse collection. So if you have your student participate in the voting they might, or might not, want to try out all of them. Less than a handful require registration, but those that do make it very easy.

Here are my choices for The Best Online Learning Games — 2008:

Number eighteen is What 2 Learn . It has a variety of templates, and a fairly easy process, that teachers and students can use to create and play learning games.


Number fourteen is Electrocity, an award-winning game where players can create their own cities and see the environmental consequences of their design decisions.

Number thirteen is the Sea Monster Game, again from the BBC. It takes you to ancient seas to meet predators from the past. It’s a little complicated, but Intermediate English Language Learners should be able to have some fun and learn while playing it.

Number twelve is Sim Sweatshop, where the player simulates being a worker in an overseas sweatshop producing sneakers for the American consumer. This game, as some others I’ve posted about, fall into the category of “simulations.” These are basically role-playing games. It’s a good language-development activity and also an excellent tool to help teach about economics and justice.

Number eleven is Questionaut, an online video game from the BBC where players have to answer questions related to English, Science and Math. As you answer the questions correctly, a little “questionaut” in a balloon gets to continue on his journey.

Number two is an excellent new site called Spelling City . You can use sample lists on the site, or you can develop your own lists of words to learn. The site will convert the lists into different stages — learn, play, test. It provides audio support as well as text. One of the exceptional features of the site is that it teaches the words in the context of an audio sentence instead of in isolation. I’m continually amazed at technology — the site came up with appropriate sentences for all the words on the list I came up with.

If you found this post useful, you might want to consider subscribing to this blog for free.


Author: Larry Ferlazzo

I'm a high school teacher in Sacramento, CA.


  1. Larry,

    As usual your list is excellent, I’m going to explore all of the games before voting, I ‘ve seen a couple and they are very good but not suitable for my real beginner students from school. This is one of the problems I always find, the level of my students is so low that it is difficult to find engaging things for them.
    Thanks for sharing and you will hear from me soon,


  2. Gabriela,

    Spelling City, Tutpup, and PhotoMunchr would work for very early beginners, I think.


  3. Larry ,

    WOW! You’ve outdone yourself and thanks for promoting this great type of student centric learning.

    I have my qualms about some (many?) of these and will write a blog post about why I think they “suck” as language learning sites. That said, I appreciate anyone who has the guts to go and make something/do something that helps students and language learners…

    As usual, well done.


  4. Hi, David,

    I’ll look forward to your post.

    My upcoming list on The Best Websites For English Language Learners — 2008 will be focused on online activities and games that I think are the very best for language learning.

    This list, though the criteria included that they were accessible to ELL’s, is for a broader audience and for covering broader content areas.


  5. Larry, nice list and very well thought out! Lots of good educational games here.

    Best regards,

  6. I teach English. SpellingCity is the best and most useful.

  7. Good Afternoon Larry,

    I have a question concerning Virtual Reality Development Labs. I went to a seminar a few months ago, and they had a company that was giving demos of their Virtual Reality in a educational setting, and I found it amazing. It was like I was really in this place being able to turn in all different directions as it described what I was looking at. They offered really good priced kits for teachers so they could do their own teaching environments and curriculum.

    My questions for you is, how are we able to get our schools to look into this type of teaching? I have a daughter that loves computers and technology, and if she had the means to learn this way I think it would be amazing. If I could have learned this way years ago I think I would have applied myself much more throughout the years.

    My second question is what is the difference between online learning games and Virtual Reality Education besides of course the realism factor?

    Amazed Mom,


  8. What a wonderful list! I can’t wait to check some of these games out.

  9. Pingback: GlobalScholar Blog: Top 20 Online Learning Games

  10. Thx. for the list. I just came across your blog and although I do not teach ESL, I do teach senior history. Good job Larry!

  11. Pingback: Carnival of Video Game Bloggers, Gaming My Way Edition | Gaming My Way

  12. Pingback: Top New Educational Web Tools for 2008-09 « Beyond The Screen

  13. Pingback: Best online games « NeverEndingSearch

Leave a Reply

Required fields are marked *.

Skip to toolbar