Brainpop ESL launches today, and it’s free for now. They have one complete module available — for beginners, with a promise of more to come.

I like Brainpop a lot, and believe that it’s well worth the money for teachers of World History and United States History. Since they added closed-captioning to their animations last year, their movies became especially accessible to English Language Learners. I’ve included them on a number of “The Best…” lists. In fact, I’ve defended Brainpop from attacks in Is Brainpop Bad For Students?

I’m not teaching any Social Studies classes this year, and I felt I couldn’t make the case for our school to renew its  subscription. In my mind, at least, their movies covering other subjects just didn’t feel like they brought enough added-value to student understanding to be worth the cost (however, I could possibly see science teachers feeling differently).  My students and I liked them, but there just seemed to be enough other free or lower-cost alternatives out there.

I have to say I feel the same way about their new ESL animations.  I’ve got a number of critiques about it,  including the lack of ability for users to record their voices and compare it to how it’s pronounced correctly.   I’ll have my ESL students check them out since they’re free for now, but I believe there are plenty of lower-cost or free alternatives that bring equal — and in many cases, greater — interactive language learning opportunities.

For alternatives, check-out U.S.A Learns, the number one ranked site on both The Best Sites For K-12 Beginning English Language Learners and The Best Sites For K-12 Intermediate English Language Learners list, all the other sites on those lists.  You might also want to read The Best Sites Where Students Can Work Independently & Let Teachers Check On Progress.

As always, though, I’m open to hearing alternative points of view.