Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

August 14, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo
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“Call Me Ishmael” Is A Neat Site & Model For Student Book Activity

callme

Call Me Ishmael is a neat site that I learned about through John Damaso’s excellent post, Top 10 ISTE takeaways for English teachers.

It’s very simple – students read a book of their choice, call a number and leave a message telling a short story how it impacted their life. The site’s creator then picks three of these stories each week to (literally) type them out and publish a video with the typing coordinated with the voice message.

Here are a couple of examples:

All the voice messages seem to be embedded on the site, too, and visitors can vote on which ones they think the site should turn into videos.

It’s a pretty neat idea, and I especially like that the voice messages are embedded. That way, even if a video is not made with them, students can still see that their message is posted.

Even if you don’t have students call the number, though, the videos can be used as good models. Students can easily create their own versions of these kinds of “book trailers” by a website like Little Bird Tales or the KnowMe phone app.

I’m adding this post to The Best Posts On Books: Why They’re Important & How To Help Students Select, Read, Write & Discuss Them.

August 5, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo
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This Would Be Great For ELLs: Play – Or Create – A “Listening & Speaking” Choose-Your-Own-Adventure Story

echo

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):

sample

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?

April 29, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo
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This Interactive Could Be The Most Motivating Tool Ever To Help ELLs Improve Pronunciation

goldivox

The online publication Quartz just published a piece about an amazing new interactive ad campaign that encourages people to repeat phrases as part of an online video story.

Fine, you might be thinking, so what’s the big deal?

Well, the recorded phrases then go into a VoiceBank that supplies audio for people who must use a device to communicate.

Can you think of many other things that could be more motivating to an English Language Learner to try to get as close to perfect pronunciation as that?

All you have to do is go to the Voice of Goldivox and follow the story along. The phrases are short and very accessible. I wouldn’t use it with Beginners, but would think Intermediates and Advanced could do it with a little practice.

Here’s a sample video, though you have to to the Goldivox link to watch it all and record:

I don’t know how long this campaign will last but, because it’s so cool, I’m adding it to The Best Websites For Learning English Pronunciation.

February 2, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo
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Three Good Speaking/Writing Prompts – Along With Video Models

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Here are three new videos from Soul Pancake that I think provide excellent speaking or writing prompts to English Language Learners and others. Plus, the videos are great models to get students thinking!

I’m adding this post to Best Posts On Writing Instruction.

October 13, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo
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Listen To (& Read) An ELL Classroom Chant About The Months Of The Year

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I’m a big fan of using chants for vocabulary and grammar instruction with Beginning English Language Learners. They support better retention, speaking practice (see The Best Sites (& Videos) For Learning About Jazz Chants for applicable research) and can be just plain fun.

Here’s a downloadable copy of two chants that took me five minutes to create – one for the months of the year and the other on days of the week.

Plus, as a bonus, here’s a SoundCloud recording of our class being led by my co-teacher (and co-author) Katie Hull chanting today about the months (we post them at our class blog so the entire class can enjoy listening to themselves):

September 12, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo
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Excellent Article On Listening AND Writing Prompt I’ll Be Having Students Use With It

How to Be a Better Listener is a very good article that appeared on The Scientific American’s site today.

What does the author suggest are ways people can become better listeners? Do you agree with her? To support your opinion, be sure to include specific examples drawn from your own experience, your observations of others, or any of your readings.

I’m adding this post to The Best Ideas To Help Students Become Better Listeners — Contribute More and to The Best Posts On Writing Instruction.

September 6, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

The New Voice Typing Feature In Google Docs Is Great – I Wonder If ELLs Can Use It For Pronunciation Practice?

I tried out the new Google Docs Voice Typing feature today, and was very impressed with its accuracy. I’ve embedded below both a video and the short test I tried out.

Its accuracy got me wondering if it could be a useful tool for English Language Learners to use and practice their pronunciation. Obviously, a site like English Central that actually grades pronunciation accuracy is more engaging. But it seems to me that having students speak and see if the Google Docs software can understand them might be worth trying now and then.

What do you think?

I’m adding this post to The Best Websites For Practicing English Pronunciation.

August 10, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

Video: StoryCorps & A Ton Of Partners Announce “The Great Thanksgiving Listen”

StoryCorps, ABS News, NPR and a ton of other groups today announced “The Great Thanksgiving Listen” where they’re inviting high school students to interview a “grandparent or an elder” with the StoryCorps great smartphone app (see Boy Oh Boy, Christmas Has Come Early For Teachers With The New StoryCorps Mobile App!).

You can get more information about the project from StoryCorps, including a “toolkit” for teachers.

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