I've divided the sections into reading, listening, writing, and speaking resources, open source software, and internet resources. Each section is highlighted in yellow and may contain subsections. Enjoy!
Reading ResourcesFinding good reading materials is sometimes a hard job because of all the junk on the internet. These websites are very good, and the content on the sites very useful.
New York Public Library
This is a wonderful resource from the NYPL. If you live in New York or have a NYPL library card, there are even more resources you can access from their website, but just starting from this page you have access to many subscription websites through NYPL. Each link takes you to a different page with different types of books. I use Tumblebooks very often, they are picture books read aloud with animations based on the pictures. A number of the sites are scans of children's books, many in multiple languages. Storyline Online are videos of famous actors reading children's books. As long as you access from the above page, all of these sites are free.
This amazing resource by the British Council has not only weekly articles and activities, it has massive archives of past content, all of which you can freely download and use for teaching. I use the magazine most often. Each week a new article comes out, complete with comprehension activities, an mp3 of the article being read, websites about related topics, small quizzes, and teacher resources. The articles can also be downloaded in teacher pack pdf files with prepared activities. Other areas of the site have poetry, literature, information on taking standardized tests like the IELTS, and information about studying abroad.
This site is dedicated to short stories. Many of the stories are older, and so in the public domain. There are a number, however, that are written by users of the website or other contemporary writers. Stories are grouped by topic, and can be searched by length, author, rating, or date added. The games section of the website focuses on vocabulary from the most popular short stories. (Some of the games are quite difficult, but still fun to play with students.) This site is not focused on TESOL usage, but is still useful.
This site has all of the content of the magazine, but not all at the same time. However, it is very useful for finding longer articles to practice reading with. I find the vocabulary and general reading level of the articles in Reader's Digest suitable for many of my intermediate/advanced students.
Named after the inventor of the first printing press, project gutenberg was set up to scan public domain books and make them freely available on the internet, and also to ensure that out of print books in the public domain do not disappear. The number of books available is astounding. Many popular books also have audio books available.
I am a bit hesitant to put this link on, but it is a great resource. The idea for this website is a combination of gutenberg.org and a private library. "The Burgomeister" has scanned his large collection of modern (and still very copywrited) books, and will lend three to you at a time, with the understanding that you delete them at the end of two weeks, as if you were borrowing a book from a friend and return it when finished reading it. This seems to be fairly dodgy legally, but the books on the site are great. Use your discretion.
There are many sites on the internet dedicated to listening exercises for TESOL/ESL students, so I will not touch on those particularly. Just search for ESL listening or TESOL listening on Google and you can find hundreds of sites with good resources. My list focuses on news sites and audiobooks.Listening Resources
BBC Learning English
This is a great site with many different types of listening activities. Some of the features, such as 6 minute English (see screenshot below) are weekly podcasts that you can download and listen to, while others are short soap operas (The Flatmates), grammar and idiom exercises, vocabulary from BBC Radio broadcasts, and teaching resources.
CBC Learning English
The CBC is not as centralized as the BBC in terms of its ESL sites. The one I have used the most is from the Ottawa CBC website. It offers 10 lessons ranked by difficulty, some with video from CBC television and some with audio from CBC radio. The vocabulary exercises and supplementary materials are quite good.
VOA Special English is a branch of the Voice of America broadcasting service that is designed to help English learners listen to and speak with an American accent. There are video and audio sections available. While I think their content and vocabulary used is very good, the speed of the reading, quite slow and unnatural, has always bothered me. This may be more suited to low/intermediate level students.
This website is focused on audio books and audio stories for children. There is a good sized collection and an archive that has all of their stories for download or streaming from the site. The text of each story is included on the web page. The quality of the recordings is excellent.
Librivox does for audio books what gutenberg does for books- takes public domain books and makes them available to the public for free. Librivox does this by having volunteers record requested books from gutenberg.org. The system seems to work very well, but the quality of the recordings is not always stellar. However, most popular titles have two or three versions, so you have some choice. A group of my students and I even volunteered to record a book- it was a great class project.
Writing ResourcesJournal Prompts
Many teachers, including myself, give students journal writing as assignments. One of the hardest things for both teachers and students are thinking of good topics. This site has a long list of open questions that students can use as a starter for their journal writing.
This site is actually trying to sell letter writing software, but the list of 500 writing topics is perfect for writing practice in business writing or TOEIC classes. There are a few sections with free examples.
This is a list of creative writing prompts. I have not used these often as they are a bit more advanced, but work well in classes focused on writing or creative writing.
This is a bit more difficult to do on the internet. I have tried a few online speech recognition sites or programs that listen to your speech and evaluate how "correct" it is, but I have yet to find one that ranked my speaking as "correct." While I admit that I am from Missouri and may have traces of a southern accent, I think speech recognition software has many problems.Speaking Resources
I use the internet as a chance for my students to practice speaking and then listen to themselves. There are two ways I do this, by audio recordings and video recordings. For most of my students here in Taiwan this is a big challenge, as they are afraid that people will see them or hear their mistakes, but I find it is very beneficial and increases students' confidence.
Audio Recording- Sound Lantern
Sound Lantern works like Youtube for audio files- you upload it and then can share it or embed it on other websites. I purchased an inexpensive computer microphone and use it to make mp3 recordings, then upload them to Sound Lantern. Here is an example:
Video Recordings- Youtube
I am sure that most people have watched videos on Youtube at some time, but not as many have uploaded videos. To record my videos, I purchased a webcam from my local computer store and using the software which came with the camera started to record my students. Youtube is a nice site to upload to because it has no size limit for files, but videos must be less than 10 minutes long. They are also very easy to embed or share on other sites. Here is a video of one of my students, Smile, doing reading practice.
Another video site that I use is Viddler.
Viddler is an alternative to Youtube. I began using it because many of the companies I teach at block Youtube but not Viddler. The advantages are no video length restrictions, a slightly better video quality, and more embedding options. However, it has a 100 Mb size limit and is not as popular as Youtube. Here is a video of a group book report from one of my company classes. (Their report is about the book Matilda by Roald Dahl.)
Open Source Software
I have used Ubuntu Linux as my computer's operating system for the past three years. The main difference between Linux and Windows (either XP or Vista) is that everything in Linux is free, from the basic system to all of the software. (And Linux doesn't need antivirus software because it doesn't get infected with viruses.) There is a small learning curve when you first start to use it, but that is true of most worthwhile things in life! Below are two screenshots, the first is a basic Ubuntu desktop, the second is my desktop.
Open Office (openoffice.org)
Open Office is a free suite of office/desktop publishing programs similar to Microsoft Office. It is able to read and save in all of the Microsoft Office file formats (.doc, .exl, .ppt, etc.) so if a friend sends you a word document, you can open, edit, and send it back as if you are using MS Office, but you saved $300! (This is available for Linux, Windows, and other OSs.)
Firefox Web Browser
This browser is also recommended on the TESOL department website. It is a free, secure internet browser that can be customized with many add-ons and extensions that enhance its abilities. There are versions available for almost any OS, including Windows and Linux. Like the programs mentioned above, it is open source, so if you understand how to code you can modify the program yourself. (I can't do that, but maybe some of you can.) It is updated frequently, and has become the #2 browser on the internet. I find it much safer than Internet Explorer.
Google Products (gmail, reader, calendar, blogger, image search, etc.)Internet Based Resources
As you can see, I really like using Google's products. Really, you just need to sign up for gmail, and then you have access to all of these sites. (You use the same username and password for them all.) Gmail has a huge amount of storage for every address, so you never need to delete things, you just store them and search for them later if you want to see them again, like a google search of your email box.
Google reader is a convenient way to collect updates of websites you use often. A personal example is NPR's "This I Believe." I really enjoy listening to this show, and occasionally use it in class. I went to their website and clicked on the link to subscribe. One of the options on the subscription page was google reader. After clicking there, every week when the NPR website puts up a new episode, I can listen to or download it from my Google reader page, without going back the NPR site. It also, like gmail, keeps in storage all of your read items, so you can search for things you've read in the past and they will be brought back up.
Google Calendar is not the best calendar application, but it integrates well with gmail. The best thing about it is you can share calendars with others. One of the schools I teach at uses this to post announcements, and as I have subscribed to their calendar, I can see any of their announcements and upcoming events just by looking at my calendar.
Blogger is a wonderful tool that I use very often for most of my classes. I don't know anything about website design, but Blogger is so easy to use, you don't need to know. I have made blogs for most of my classes which are updated occasionally. This is a great way to interact with students or parents, and teaching students to make their own blog is a wonderful way to get them to write more. (Many of my students are required to put their homework on their blog, and I leave any corrections or suggestions as comments at the end of their post.)
Google Image Search is a fast, efficient way to find pictures on the internet. If you are designing a worksheet, activity, or test, this will help you find relevant pictures in a minimum amount of time. I use this daily.
This is a group of online office programs. While they don't offer as many functions as Open Office or MS Office, it has the advantage of keeping all of your documents on the internet so you can access, edit, and send them to others from any computer with internet access. (Google also has a similar service called Google Documents, but it is less complete than ZOHO. I use them both though.) My favorite of their huge suite of programs is ZOHO Notebook. It is very similar to MS OneNote, a wonderful program for students. In ZOHO Notebook, you can take notes by clicking anywhere on the page and typing, add images or videos, record your voice and make it part of the notebook, or draw freehand. Since my laptop is a Tablet PC I use the drawing part quite often. You can also share with others, with many different options. Below is a Notebook I used to take notes on the first DVD I received this semester.
Unfortunately, the DVD audio stopped at 1:16, so I didn't get anything at the end of the lecture.
Picasa and Picasa Web Albums
This is a wonderful program that lets you import and edit the photos on your computer, then post them to a web album that you can share with other people. I use this as a way to publish students' work and share that with other students and parents. It is also a great way to share photos with family. (I use this to share our pictures taken here in Taiwan with my family in Missouri and Utah.)Below is a picture and link to one of my class albums.
|Adam and Lori's English Class|
Scribd is a site dedicated to making document sharing easy. You can upload a document or pdf file and scribd will turn it into a searchable flash object (like a youtube video) that can be shared in emails, embedded on other websites or blogs, or by directing someone to that documents address. I have used this site quite often to share a document with a whole class. The benefits are that you do not need to photocopy, print out, or mass email anyone, merely place the address or embedded document in a class site and everyone can access and download it. Below is a practice test I used in a TOEIC class last year.
TOEIC Practice Questions