This is the third edition in this particular series of “The Best…” lists.  The first two were:

The Best “Fun” Sites You Can Use For Learning, Too

The Best Fun Sites You Can Use For Learning, Too — 2008

To introduce this list, I’m just going to quote from the first one:

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.

I’m not listing these sites in any order of preference.

Here are my picks for The Best “Fun” Sites You Can Use For Learning, Too — 2009:


In my classes I help students learn academic vocabulary. One new word has been “interpretation” and its various forms. I usually show students several optical illusions that can be found at various sites. Then, they have short conversations with other students about what they see:

“What is your interpretation of what’s in the picture?”

“It seems to me that there’s a ……”

Here are two new resources for illusions that can be used in this way:

83 Optical Illusions & Visual Phenomena


Students can pick some of these photos to write about or describe, or they can be used in class as part of the  Picture Word Inductive Model teaching strategy:

Off the wall: The astonishing 3D murals painted on the sides of buildings by a trompe l’oeil artist

20 Awesome 3D Pavement Illusions

The World’s Ugliest Dog Show

Extreme Ironing: shirt-ironing the hard way

Here’s a TIME Magazine slideshow on wild human-powered flying machines.

There, I Fixed It


Fun videos are always useful.  If you have a computer projector, students can watch them using the “Back-To-The-Screen” activity (read how to do it at The Best Popular Movies/TV Shows For ESL/EFL).  Or, if you don’t have a projector, you can do a similar activity if you’re at a computer lab.  Or you can just have everybody watch the same video and write about it as a class.

Here are my video suggestions:

Inspired Bicycles – Danny MacAskill April 2009 shows some amazing bicycle acrobatics, though one hopes it wouldn’t give students any ideas…

The PEN Story is an incredible “stop motion” movie using thousands of photos to show a man’s life story — in three minutes.

You can also pick from 21 Stunning Examples Of Creatively Done Stop Motion Animations.

Here’s a video of the most fun wedding entrance — ever!

Here are two videos — one of two “talking” cats making their actual sounds, and another of them with dubbed-in conversation. After showing students both, a fun lesson would to have ELL’s develop their own version of the dialogue.

The Flawless – Dance Act – Britains Got Talent 2009 is pretty amazing to watch.

This video of a surprise musical performance in a train station is a fun one.

This next one wouldn’t work for ELL’s because of the fast dialogue, but it would be good for advanced or native speakers. It’s called The Figurative Language Bomb, and it would be a fun introduction to…figurative language.


Just click and start making a drawing with virtual sand, then save your creation to the gallery.  Again, students can post it and then provide an oral or text description.

Make a snowflake, describe it, and post the link on a student/teacher blog or website.


I’ve written about how I use online video games as language-development activities with my students.

Here are a couple of particularly good ones that came out this year:

Griswold The Goblin includes audio supported text and a lot of fun. Here’s the Walkthrough.

The Ballad of Ketinetto is an online video game excellent for English Language development. Here’s the Walkthrough.

The same creators of the last game also have an excellent seventeen part series of games called Esklavos, several which have come out in the past year.   You can find the Walkthroughs to the series here.  That same Walkthrough page also has links to all the games, but because I think it’s more likely that the site featuring the walkthroughs will be blocked by school content filters, I’m going to list direct links to all the games here (except for the first one, which is in Spanish only):

Feedback, of course, is always welcome.

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