ESL Teaching Website reviews

My favourite site is Learning A-Z, ♥♥♥♥ with it’s multiple different sections for reading, younger kids, writing and ESL.  I use the reading assessment passages to assess student’s reading level based on the Lexile categories and then I can assign lessons based on reading level.

My next favourite site is ESL Library. ♥♥♥♥  This site has some excellent worksheets for students to learn and practice grammar, especially verb tenses as well as many reading comprehension lessons on a wide variety of themes. The grammar lessons include an explanation of the verb tense, lots of repetition, very clear layout, good size font and three learning levels. These are the best verb learning activities I have seen to far. The cost is $22 US for 3 months so you can’t go wrong at this price. Some of the reading packages that feature iconic Canadian and American figures, places and current topics for discussion. This is good for people new to Canada to build up local knowledge. There are answers keys for everything. I would say the resources on this site would take you through of full year of teaching. An added bonus are has packages with Canadian spelling or American spelling and a lot of Canadian content as the site is out of Manitoba.

For grades 1-6  I like is♥♥♥♥  You can do a search by grade level, topic and kind of resource.  The site is good for basic reading and writing skills.  The material is very well done graphically and the cost of subscription is reasonable at $ 9.00 US a month. untitledThere is a free option to try it out.   There are one page stories at the grade 3-6 level that have questions or fill-in the-blanks.  The weakness of the site is there is not a lot of grammar exercises, which I found better on ESL Library. I have downloaded packages of around 10 reading lessons that lasts a couple of weeks.  The reading and writing package on Zombie Apocalypse was very successful.  Another useful feature of the site is the option to rate the resources.  Most of the themes are based on US material and references.  There is an online grammar teaching system that can be used with an ipad  but I did not find it useful.

Another site that I like is Evan Moor.  ♥♥♥ This site has some useful resources on logic and problem solving which are helpful for students planning on taking exams for schools or English proficiency.  The site has an ELL section that includes PDF files and e-books for Grades K-5.  The materials are mapped to common core standards.  Prices are $6.00 US per pdf for a student copy  and  around $23.00 US for the teacher’s edition.

Another site with reading resources is ReadWorks. ♥♥♥  It has many functions for teaching online and truly takes advantage of technology as a teaching medium. You can assign readings to students from the site, create classrooms and view the screen on a whiteboard format. Texts are more non-fiction than fiction, more American than international and does not include many classic short stories. It does have lesson plans and teaching materials that can be sent to students. It also has an automatic lesson-a-day feature to auto send lessons via email. The lessons cannot be downloaded as a pdf and students will have to read the material on the screen. The questions and exercises are all done on-line as well. Material is coded to ESL standards and Lexile level. The screens are very readable. The level of the stories are mostly primary or middle school. The site could be improved with more international content, less American content and more well known children’s books.

For more advanced students at ELL levels 3 and 4 or high school there is a website called Commonlit that has classic English Literature for free. ♥♥♥♥ I was very impressed by this site as you can filter lessons by reading level including Lexile Level, genre and grade. The Lexile levels fit with the assessment site that will help you to assess a students reading level such as Lexile. Authors include Joyce, Poe, O Henry etc. The format of the stories are pdfs that can be downloaded and printed. The teacher’s site requires a log in to access the answer key as well as the on-line translation tools to translate words into many other languages including Chinese. The teacher’s site includes teaching aids and topics for discussion. more expensive resources to us.

Another site I have used to support English Literature is Book Rages ♥♥♥ which has very detailed lesson plans for 100’s of books.

When I comes to Exam Practice, the site I have used frequently is ExamBank. ♥♥♥ This site has custom exams from grade 7-12 for each Canadian province created from a huge database of exam questions including English, Math and Physics. The English exams include common texts and sophisticated questions on content and meaning. The cost is modest and students can buy a subscription and send you the results of their exams via email. It is hard to print out a copy of the exams for students to do as homework and it is hard to see which questions are problems unless the student does the exam on line while you are online with them.

I have recently discovered Lesson Planet ♥♥♥ which is very comprehensive site that searches other teaching sites for lesson plans and rates the lesson plans based on user feedback. It’s like an for the lesson plans. You can’t beat this site. For $ 24 a year you can’t beat the price either. If you want to search for teaching guides for a piece of literature, it will come up with several choices unless there are none available online.

I have used some resources from the Teachers Pay Teachers ♥♥ site but they are more expensive that other sites.  All the materials have a lot of graphics so are appealing to younger users.

Not recommended sites

I have used and English module from the BC Open Leaning Agency   I used 4  modules:  Grammar on the Run Speech, Sentences  grades 4/5/6 level, Writing on the Run Speech and Sentences for  grades 7/8/9.  There are free to download from the link above but also available for $ 25.00 under a different part of the Open Learning website.  Each module has around 50 pages so each one will keep students busy for a couple of months.  The first two levels are appropriate for younger ESL students who have been in Canada for some time and for older ESL students new to Canada but with more cognitive skills.  The manuals are very nicely laid out with no graphics and include an answer key at the end.  I downloaded the four modules and had them coil bound for about $ 12.00 per manual which the students take more seriously that loose sheets of paper.  My main complaints are the lack of verb exercises so I have used the ESL Library above.  I also found the pre-tests (proof reading) were not helpful learning or diagnostic tools.  The material is all BC based. The weakness of the material is that the grammar points covered are not the major parts of grammar so I would not use the resource again. I also used the English 10 module from the same site and did not find it helpful for ESL learners.  There was a lot of paper to print out and the material was very dry.

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