Today I learned about one new site and “rediscovered” another, and I’m adding both to The Best Websites To Help Beginning Readers.

The new one is called Speakaboos, and I learned about it almost simultaneously from Free Technology For Teachers and from Webware.

Speakaboos provides excellent quality “talking stories” on video with closed-captioning — often read by “celebrities.”   They say they are also going to add the ability to record stories, as well as offering other online activities.  You can watch the stories without registering, though it appears like you will have to sign-up (for free) in order to record stories.

It has some great stuff, though I wonder if they might have “jumped the gun” on going public a little too early.  I agree with Webware’s critique that too many parts of their menu don’t have anything functioning yet.  But it’s still a winner — worthy of being added to “The Best…” list.

The other site I want to write about is an “oldie” — Storyline Online. This site has been around for quite awhile, and has had celebrities also reading stories. I never used the site, or wrote about it, or even added it to my website for student self-access because, as nice of a service as it was, it didn’t have closed-captions. That absence really limited its use for English Language Learners.

However, learning about Speakaboos prompted me to check out Storyline again. I was going to contrast it with Speakaboos use of closed-captions.

Much to my surprise, though, I discovered that Storyline now offers closed-captioning with all its stories. I have no idea when they began that feature, but it now definitely makes it a worth addition to “The Best…” list.