Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

November 13, 2017
by Larry Ferlazzo

StoryCorps Unveils Searchable Archive Of 400,000 Interviews


I’ve posted often about StoryCorps – their great interviews and their wonderful app.

Today, they unveiled an archive containing the 400,000 interviews people have done with their app, and it’s searchable by “keyword or location or topic.”

It’s pretty amazing.

Unfortunately, the interviews don’t have transcripts, but they are still great listening resources.

I interviewed my in-laws using the app, though the app didn’t like my iPhone’s mike so I have to upload it separately.

The new archive’s debut is good timing since the Great Thanksgiving Listen is taking place where teachers are having students interview family members all across the U.S. and beyond.

I’m adding this info to The Best Listening Sites For English Language Learners.

July 15, 2017
by Larry Ferlazzo

The Best Sites For ELLs To Practice Online Dictation


Dictation exercises in class, where English Language Learners need to listen and write down what they hear, is an excellent language-learning practice (you can learn more about these classroom lessons at The Best Resources For Learning How To Use The Dictogloss Strategy With English Language Learners).

I have had online dictation sites on The Best Listening Sites For English Language Learners, but several no longer exist.  So I though I’d create a separate “Best” list.

I’ve only included sites where students can type in what they hear and have their responses automatically assessed.

Here are my choices:

Listen and Write is a great free site.  After a quick registration and log-on,  A user first chooses a text he/she wants to hear read to him/her. There are lots of different choices and features – in fact, so many that you probably want to review the site with students before they try it.  Many of the choices are from the Voice of America, and are both high-interest and accessible. Their levels of difficulty are also indicated. Then the story is dictated to you, and you have to type it correctly. You can choose the speed of the reading and how often it’s repeated. When you type, only the correct letters actually show-up on the screen, and you can ask for hints.

The English Club has a series of simple and effective dictation exercises. They’re well organized, simple, don’t require registration, and have ones for a variety of English levels.

Quizlet is on The Best Tools To Make Online Flashcards list. They’ve added the great ability to have users listen to a word and then have to spell it. This dictation feature is excellent for ELL’s, and EFL Classroom has created a list of links to the best Quizlet dictation activities.

ESL Fast has some nice online dictations for ELLs.

Agenda Web also has links to some nice and simple dictations.

June 8, 2017
by Larry Ferlazzo

StoryCorps Begins Weekly Video Series That Would Be Excellent For ELLs

I’m a big fan of StoryCorps and have written about them many times.

They’ve recently begun producing a “weekly broadcast” described as “Stories from Americans of all backgrounds and beliefs.”

These are short and simple videos with images and the transcript appearing as the words are spoken.

You can see all of them at this YouTube playlist.

Here’s their latest one:

I’m adding it to The Best Listening Sites For English Language Learners.

December 12, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

Study Supports What ELL Teachers Have Been Saying For Years – Surround Yourself With New Language

Learn a New Lingo While Doing Something Else is the headline of an article in Scientific American today about a new study.

It basically says that you’ll improve your new language skills just by having the audio in the background even if you’re not explicitly listening.

Here’s an excerpt:


Many language teachers have been telling their students this piece of info for years. It’s always nice, though, to get research backing-up common practices.

I’m adding this info to The Best Listening Sites For English Language Learners.

September 18, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

StoryCorps Kicks-Off “Great Thanksgiving Listen” Again


I posted a lot about last year’s StoryCorps’ Great Thanksgiving Listen, and they’re doing it again this year.

You can find out lots of information – along with downloading resources – at their website, and here’s how they describe the event:

The Great Thanksgiving Listen is a national education project that empowers high school students to create an oral history of the contemporary United States by recording an interview with an elder over Thanksgiving weekend using the StoryCorps App.

Interviews are entered into the StoryCorps archive at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress and on where they become an invaluable resource for future historians and provide families with a priceless piece of personal history.

In its pilot year of 2015, thousands of high schools from all 50 states participated and preserved over 50,500 individual recordings at the Library of Congress. In 2016, StoryCorps will continue to work with educators around the country to preserve the voices and stories of an entire generation of Americans over a single holiday weekend.

August 5, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

This Would Be Great For ELLs: Play – Or Create – A “Listening & Speaking” Choose-Your-Own-Adventure Story


As regular readers know, I’m a big fan of both having students create and read (or, in the case of videos, watch-and-play) choose your own adventure stories (see The Best Places To Read & Write “Choose Your Own Adventure” Stories). Many students find them very engaging to read, they can be quite accessible, and even low-Intermediate ELLs can create simple ones.

I’ve been a fan of them for quite awhile, and thought I was aware of all their different permutations.

Once again, however, I was wrong.

You might be aware of Amazon’s popular home voice assistant called Echo, which uses the Alexa voice software. I don’t have it, but do have the Amazon Fire TV plugin, which I like a lot (I used to be a fan of Google Chromecast, but now favor Fire).

Apparently, a few months ago, they created a listening choose-your-own-adventure game connected to the terrible Batman vs. Superman movie. In it, Alexa describes physical surrounds, provides choices, and assists players in making them. The game received a much better critical reception than the film.

Today, Amazon released software to developers so that they could more easily create these kinds of games.

So, one, this means that there will be many more of these kinds of professionally-produced “listening-and-speaking” choose your own adventure games, which would seem to me to offer exceptionally engaging opportunities for English Language Learners to practice listening and speaking. All we’d have to do is bring an Amazon Fire TV plugin to the classroom.

But, more importantly, I think, is the idea of a listening & speaking Choose Your Own Adventure story!

Teacher can create simple or more complex ones by just writing them out and saying it like this (it’s a sample from Amazon’s software instructions):


On top of that, English Language Learner can also create their own. It would seem to me that these versions would need to be more simple than ones that are typically written so that players don’t have to remember as much, which should make them even easier for ELLs.

I have plenty of templates like this one at my previously-mentioned “Best” list.

Do you think this kind of thing could have as much potential as I do?

December 22, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

The American Archive of Public Broadcasting Is A Treasure Trove Of Public Radio & TV Shows


The American Archive of Public Broadcasting is a joint project of the Library of Congress and WGBH in Boston. It has tens of thousands of hours of programming from local public radio and TV stations across the country.

It has a few organized sections, including one on the Civil Rights Movement (which includes interviews with major Civil Rights leaders) and also a very friendly search function. I was excited to see it contained several interviews and lectures by Saul Alinsky that I’m looking forward to exploring (see The Best Sites To Learn About Saul Alinsky).

It also contains a number of interviews with Cesar Chavez.

The sound quality of the shows I’ve listened to are excellent, too.

It’s definitely worth a visit….

Thanks to Slate for the tip.

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