Ideas and resources for parents of ESL/ELL students

These reviewed resources offer information so share with parents of ESL/ELL students. Some are resources parents can use at home with children to reinforce language skills. Others include suggested activities ESL/ELL learners can begin in school and share with parents. Be sure to read the "In the Classroom" suggestions for ways these reviewed resources can build language skills both at home and at school.

 

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Inspired Beginners Spanish Podcast - Ben Curtis and Marina Diez

Grades
5 to 12
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This language-rich website features podcasts spoken using British English. The podcasts review the previous episode, explain new English vocabulary, discuss the subject in English,...more
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This language-rich website features podcasts spoken using British English. The podcasts review the previous episode, explain new English vocabulary, discuss the subject in English, and then present the Spanish language podcast. Be aware that clicking to play a podcast will start a long pause as the podcast downloads to your computer, and it may appear that noting is happening! The subjects are of high interest for students. The name is somewhat of a misnomer, though, since people with no knowledge of Spanish might be a bit overwhelmed by the language used. Unfortunately, accompanying worksheets with complete transcripts are not free, and there is no text available elsewhere. There are a few other free worksheets available under the About link (see resources). Listening options include listening on your computer, iPod, or mp3 player as podcasts.

IMPORTANT NOTE: This site includes tools for blog users to interact (in English or Spanish). Any visitor can comment on the posts and podcasts or participate in Forums. There is also a link to a sister blog on Spanish culture. Check your school policies on students posting comments, etc. to the web and whether they are permitted to do so anonymously and/or with name or initials.

This site requires Quicktime. Get it from the TeachersFirst Toolbox page..

tag(s): podcasts (56), spanish (109), vocabulary (318)

In the Classroom

This site is a treasure trove for Spanish teachers. It also provides a way for your ESL and ELL students to share their language and culture as the focus of a lesson, perhaps as you study other cultures. Have the ESL or ELL students and native English speakers work on understanding podcasts together. They can discuss what they understood and what they did not. You might have your Spanish speakers write out the dialogue and vocabulary selections, but be sure to have a knowledgeable adult check the Spanish before using it with your students.

To alleviate safety concerns, you might want to create a simple class policy (e.g. initials only) and obtain parent permission before inviting your class to participate in the blog, since you will not be able to monitor their submissions. The site does moderate to prevent "bad" comments from appearing online, but you do not control this moderation. ALL blog comments require an email address (kept hidden). If safety and school policy concerns limit student access, use the site as a whole-class activity and selectively choose portions for students to use. You can assign DIRECT links to podcasts by right-clicking the "Audio: download" link and copying the URL that shows in "Properties," ex. http://media.libsyn.com/media/learnrealspanish/nisbeginners20_el_kindle.mp3. Students can RIGHT-click >Save target as to download and load podcast files to their mp3 players or simply keep to listen over and over at a computer.
 This resource requires PDF reader software like Adobe Acrobat.

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The Story Connection - Dianne de las Casas

Grades
2 to 6
2 Favorites 0  Comments
This website offers printable (retold) stories by Dianne de las Casas. She offers quite a collection, and adds new stories each month. The stories come from all around the world. ...more
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This website offers printable (retold) stories by Dianne de las Casas. She offers quite a collection, and adds new stories each month. The stories come from all around the world. Other offerings on the site include holiday stories, fingerplays, play scripts, activities to do with stories, and puzzles. Don't forget to check out the extensive suggestions under Resources such as Story telling games. These help teachers and parents know what to do after they've all read a story together. Teachers, school librarians, and even parents can sign up for a free monthly newsletter about using stories in education; The Story Connection Express. This site requires Flash and Adobe Acrobat. You can get both from the TeachersFirst Toolbox page..

In the Classroom

Use the activities in class after reading one of her stories from a country you have represented among your ESL or ELL students. Have your students write their own story activity suggestions after you have used a few of Dianne's. Be sure to include this link on your class website and in your letter home to parents. Suggest that they read just one short story and find accompanying activities for the family to do.
  This resource requires Adobe Flash and PDF reader software like Adobe Acrobat.

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Literactive - Entertainment & Information Industries Ltd

Grades
K to 3
1 Favorites 0  Comments
This site assists beginning readers by providing screen sized, illustrated stories with limited rhyming vocabulary. You are required to go through a free registration. You can play...more
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This site assists beginning readers by providing screen sized, illustrated stories with limited rhyming vocabulary. You are required to go through a free registration. You can play rhyming games with the newly-learned words. The site also has a sections of stories for ESL and ELL students, guided reading for kindergarten students, downloadable traditional picture books, e-poetry, and many learning activities! Some of the topics of the learning activities include Match the Sounds, Sequence Game, and several others. This site requires Flash. Get it from the TeachersFirst Toolbox page..

tag(s): guided reading (47)

In the Classroom

Provide this link in your class newsletter and on your class website, so parents can reinforce the reading skills you are teaching their children in school. Share the activities link with your students on your interactive whiteboard or projector. Then have your students explore the activities with a partner on your classroom computer center or cluster.
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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Lil' Fingers - David Lumerman

Grades
K to 1
1 Favorites 0  Comments
 
Little fingers meet big fun at this free interactive website. Designed with toddlers and Kindergarten kiddies in mind, this site offers storybooks, interactive games, holiday activities,...more
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Little fingers meet big fun at this free interactive website. Designed with toddlers and Kindergarten kiddies in mind, this site offers storybooks, interactive games, holiday activities, coloring sheets, and much more. There are even interactive games for ABCs and telling time. Bright colors, quick loading pages, short stories, and extra large buttons (arrows) are just some of the features that make this site easy to use. When viewing the storybooks, just make sure you are not too hasty to click. Clicking your mouse too early may mean missing out of some of the animation. Warning - at the end of each storybook, a recommended book is featured. If you click on that recommendation, you will be taken to a retail book site. This site requires Flash. You can get it from the TeachersFirst Toolbox page..

tag(s): holidays (140), time (140)

In the Classroom

Primary teachers, make simple printed text from the storybooks to reinforce the reading skills. Use the holiday games to liven up your computer centers. During Kindergarten Open House, set up a computer center with the storybooks--ready for parent/child interaction. ESL and ELL teachers will appreciate the simplicity of the text for their beginning English-learner students.

Be sure to provide this link in your class newsletter or on your class website.
  This resource requires Adobe Flash and PDF reader software like Adobe Acrobat.

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Chuala - Chuala

Grades
4 to 12
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This site allows students to practice pronunciation in 10 languages, including English, European languages, and Mandarin Chinese. After a free registration, you can put in a search...more
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This site allows students to practice pronunciation in 10 languages, including English, European languages, and Mandarin Chinese. After a free registration, you can put in a search term for lessons. It's a bit difficult to guess search items, so looking at the entire list in any given language is a good way to start. Currently, English has 298 items. You are also able to contribute lessons.

One helpful document is the Chuala inventory which allows instructors to quiz ESL students on their pronunciation by having them pronounce 144 distinct items. They can then search the lessons for practice, recording, and making comparisons on these phonemes.

Some of the lessons take the whole language approach and appear as dialogs, discussions, or Q and A. Most, however, have students practice distinct sounds only, with no context. One advantage of the program is that you can select lessons by distinct language area. For example, American English students can hear examples of American English rather than British English. You can also request that other lessons be created. This site requires Flash and enabled Javascript. Get Flash and directions on enabling Javascript from the TeachersFirst Toolbox page..

tag(s): chinese (50), pronunciation (43)

In the Classroom

Set ESL/ELL or speech/language students up with this site on a classroom computer cluster or in a lab to practice phonemes they can't hear or pronounce (see safety notice below). You MUST have a microphone or use a computer that has one built in. Use the inventory to make initial ESL/ELL evaluations as well as periodic progress checks. Students may like the site so much they'll want to practice at home.

This website could be very useful to French, Spanish, and German teachers (or teachers of other world languages). Use this site to learn new vocabulary and improve pronunciation of world languages.

Safety concern: This site requires FREE membership to use the audio tools and access content. Membership includes social networking tools, such as "friends" and "messages," and requires an email address. You may want to set up a single class account for in-school use, entering your "extra" email address to avoid unsafe use of the site by your adventurous students. If you KNOW how they are logging in (with your account), you can remove any friends or other unauthorized contacts. The problem with this approach is that you will not know which student has done what. If you do permit individual user accounts (according to your school's policies, of course), have parents and students sign an agreement that spells out permissible behavior and consequences -- and get your principal's OK!
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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Story Nory: Kids Audio Stories - Blog Relations: Matthew Lynn and Hugh Fraser

Grades
K to 5
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This site offers over 100 audio stories, downloadable to mp3 players or playable from your computer using Flash. It also has constant updates, news about new offerings, and several...more
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This site offers over 100 audio stories, downloadable to mp3 players or playable from your computer using Flash. It also has constant updates, news about new offerings, and several complete books available as well. The stories available include animal stories, poems, fables and legends, modern stories, and some holiday stories. A few stories include an animated video. The text of the story is included, so students can follow along during the audio reading The audio quality is high, so enthusiasm will be contagious! This site does have some small unobtrusive advertisements. Be aware - this website is a blog, so students can add comments about a story (using first names only), if this is within your school policies. This site requires Flash. Get it from the TeachersFirst Toolbox page..

tag(s): folktales (50), listening (85)

In the Classroom

Beginning readers will enjoy this site as much as more capable readers, listening intently to the high quality presentation. Share this site with parents in your class newsletter or from your teacher web page. Use it also when you read Alice in Wonderland, and when you teach the concept of "series" stories (try the "Bertie" stories). ESL/ ELL and learning support students will benefit from reading and hearingstories at the same time. Project the story on an interactive whiteboard or projector with small groups of readers so students can follow along and even highlight words during the audio reading.
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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Picture Prompt Story Starters - Story-It

Grades
K to 4
1 Favorites 0  Comments
This page offers a series of illustrated, printable story prompts. Printing in portrait or landscape for larger spaces between the lines. Another option includes a black and ...more
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This page offers a series of illustrated, printable story prompts. Printing in portrait or landscape for larger spaces between the lines. Another option includes a black and white drawing that the children can color before or after writing the story. The pages also contain a box to write a word list for help spelling more difficult words. The story topics include many seasonal and holiday offerings, as well. Some of this site requires FLASH. Get it from the TeachersFirst Toolbox page..

tag(s): vocabulary (318), vocabulary development (120), writing (365)

In the Classroom

Use this site with beginning readers, beginning writers, and ESL students to reinforce the skill you are teaching and to show connections between reading and writing. Make it available for your active writers to choose their own prompts, too, or for parents to use at home during breaks. Special ed teachers will appreciate these prompts as a way to promote language development. Use the pictures to record students' vocabulary on the lines below as they "tell you about the picture."
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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Kindersay - Webmosis

Grades
K to 1
1 Favorites 0  Comments
  
Although it describes itself as being "preschool" site, Kindersay is a great web site for primary readers, ESL/ELL students and special education students working on speech and language....more
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Although it describes itself as being "preschool" site, Kindersay is a great web site for primary readers, ESL/ELL students and special education students working on speech and language. This site offers simple, easy-to-use activities such as letter recognition and vocabulary. Each letter and vocabulary word has a corresponding video with correct pronunciation. The Favorites tab provides an opportunity to create differentiated instruction for each child. Registration is free!

tag(s): alphabet (86), vocabulary (318)

In the Classroom

Add the link to a classroom homepage for center-time or for parents and children to practice at home. Use a different activity category each day or week with ESL/ELL or special ed students to build vocabulary. Then use a digital camera to create some pictures and sound files of your own for new categories using PowerPoint slides or the online "My Family" area.

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English for All - US Department of Education

Grades
7 to 12
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This multimedia online program allows teachers to set up English classes for ESL/ELL students from all language groups. The website includes online stories, accompanying print materials,...more
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This multimedia online program allows teachers to set up English classes for ESL/ELL students from all language groups. The website includes online stories, accompanying print materials, videos, and optional videos and CDs for purchase. Teachers can set up this FREE program (including 20 lessons) for unlimited classes. Each lesson has vocabulary, a video, support work, listening requirements, grammar, and a test. Students go through a series of activities; results are reported back to the teacher. Videos are available as downloads or podcasts. Teacher guides are provided. This site requires Flash and Quicktime. Get them from the TeachersFirst Toolbox page..

tag(s): pronunciation (43)

In the Classroom

Be sure to take advantage of this FREE website to help your ESL/ELL students improve their English. For older students, this program can help them prepare for the world of work. Some parents of ESL/ELL students may even appreciate the resource for their own learning. ESL teachers may want to share the site at an open house or conferences as a non-invasive way of drawing parents into the process.
  This resource requires Adobe Flash and PDF reader software like Adobe Acrobat.

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Robert Munsch Poems & Stories - Robert Munsch

Grades
K to 5
6 Favorites 0  Comments
 
Beloved children's author Robert Munsch offers many of his stories/books here in audio. Just click on the cover of the book you want to hear. You can then either listen ...more
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Beloved children's author Robert Munsch offers many of his stories/books here in audio. Just click on the cover of the book you want to hear. You can then either listen or download it to listen to later. You will also find an explanation from the author about how the book came to be. All students, including ESL students, will enjoy hearing these stories.

tag(s): folktales (50), listening (85)

In the Classroom

Set up these recordings as a center with the book at hand and headphones for your students. Or play them for the whole class with your speakers turned up after lunch or at the end of the day. Include the link on your teacher web page and newsletter for parents, as well.

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ABC Toon Center - Jack Armstrong: ABC Learning Time

Grades
K to 4
3 Favorites 0  Comments
 
This interactive site, hosted by Hoot and Kat, features 25 games and story links. Some games are more educational than others. Hoot's Story Time and Learn with Kat ...more
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This interactive site, hosted by Hoot and Kat, features 25 games and story links. Some games are more educational than others. Hoot's Story Time and Learn with Kat areas are a good place to start. Players may solve special challenges that allow them to become a Junior Ranger. Once a Junior Ranger, they will be invited into a secret clubhouse which contains more surprises and games. What a fun, literacy-based site to use when rewarding good learning! This site provides hours of safe fun for our primary and elementary learners. ESL teachers will be pleased to know that the homepage can be read in five different languages.

tag(s): alphabet (86), literacy (107)

In the Classroom

Share this site with parents via a link from your teacher web page for safe learning fun at home or use specific literacy activities as a center in your primary classroom.
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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Language Arts Online Clips - Thinkport

Grades
1 to 6
10 Favorites 0  Comments
  
This wonderful site has an extensive list of free video clips of favorite children's books, author interviews, and author documentaries. Users can open them with Windows Media or Real...more
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This wonderful site has an extensive list of free video clips of favorite children's books, author interviews, and author documentaries. Users can open them with Windows Media or Real Player (the listings tell which one is needed). Some clips offer both options. Get the plug ins from the TeachersFirst Toolbox page..This site MUST have a high speed connection! It can be slow to load during "peak" times (11 a.m. to 2 pm Eastern time in the U.S.). Be patient while clips download, even on a peppy network. While the videos are downloading, you may not think anything is happening. TURN OFF your pop-up blocker (including the ones built into the Google and Yahoo toolbars) so you can see the video pop-up windows.

tag(s): interviews (13)

In the Classroom

Preview the video clips before recommending them to students or using in class, since the quality of video and audio varies significantly. None is designed for full screen projection, though some will project about half-screen. Share a partial video with the class or as a center to inspire children to read a book or allow them to watch videos after they have read books. (A Dark, Dark tale would be great for Halloween week). Remember to turn up speakers for group viewing or provide headphones at your center. If you are ready to try podcasting, use these dramatic readings as models for students to record some of their favorite selections as a podcast (and possibly illustrate with student artwork). Share this link with parents on your web page or in your newsletter to encourage reading at home. Most of the books will be in our school library, so students can follow along. School librarians should know about this site as well! ESL students and weaker readers always benefit from listening to different voices read the same story as they follow along.

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Little Critter World Wide Network - Mercer Mayer

Grades
K to 3
3 Favorites 0  Comments
  
The Little Critter books by Mercer Mayer have more to offer on this site. Listen to the author read stories, join in with sing-alongs (turn up your speakers!), watch ...more
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The Little Critter books by Mercer Mayer have more to offer on this site. Listen to the author read stories, join in with sing-alongs (turn up your speakers!), watch interactive videos of the books, and find games, art, and other activities on this great website. The read and play activities highlight the text as it reads aloud to you, and even has music and giggle to go along with the story. Users can also read about the author and even write a letter to Little Critter. This is a great reading reinforcement site! Site requires Shockwave and Flash: get them from the TeachersFirst Toolbox page..

tag(s): preK (286)

In the Classroom

Select items on this site to use as a center or whole-class activity after you read a Little Critter book to your class. Share this link on your teacher web page and/or in a parent newsletter for those who love these books. ESL students will enjoy listening to having the books read as they follow along on the pages of the book. You will want to be sure that students steer clear of the "store" section where Little Critter items are sold.
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KIDiddles Song Lyrics - KIDiddles

Grades
K to 3
1 Favorites 0  Comments
 
Find the lyrics to favorite children's songs, ready for you to share in the classroom. Many also have MIDI audio files with them for you to sing along. The indexing ...more
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Find the lyrics to favorite children's songs, ready for you to share in the classroom. Many also have MIDI audio files with them for you to sing along. The indexing is well done with songs organized alphabetically by the first word of the song. There is also a subject index helpful for planning a lesson on a certain theme. You can also search by phrase and more (see the explanation of phrase searching as well as substring matching. Some songs include a suggestion how it might be used: dance, fingerplay, etc. Information about song origin, adaptation, and copyright information is available as well.

tag(s): lyrics (21), songs (53)

In the Classroom

Turn up your speakers, then share this site with the school librarian and parents for great times using songs with fingerplays, dances, and other activities. Sing along as a center by finding a song to fit this week's classroom theme or invent your own class set of words to a familiar tune once your students know the original. Students can write verses, and the entire class create a chorus!

Use songs with elementary ESL/ELL students help perfect pronunciation, intonation, and memory of English phrases. Include this link on your teacher web page for parents to help speech or ESL/ELL students "sing along" at home.

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Colorin Colorado - WETA

Grades
1 to 10
1 Favorites 0  Comments
   
This totally bilingual website (a collaboration between Reading Rockets and the American Federation of Teachers) is packed with information for both ELL/ESL and regular classroom instructors...more
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This totally bilingual website (a collaboration between Reading Rockets and the American Federation of Teachers) is packed with information for both ELL/ESL and regular classroom instructors about how to encourage reading. Although the focus is on Spanish speaking students, the information is specific and easily adaptable for all reading learners. Lots of information is available on the site concerning not only reading instructional techniques, but building partnerships with families of Hispanic students, placement and assessment, and important authors. Webcast information programs include accompanying reading and discussion questions. This site is a good resource to help meet the needs of increasing numbers of students born speaking other languages. Videos and webcasts reside on YouTube. If your district blocks YouTube, the they may not be viewable. You could always view them at home and bring them to class "on a stick" to share. Use a tool such as Freemake Video Converter, reviewed here, to download the videos from YouTube.

tag(s): hispanic (16), parents (57)

In the Classroom

All classroom teachers who have ELL/ESL students should consider this a primary source of information about how to teach and help second language learners. Share this link on your teacher web page and/or in a parent newsletter for those who are concerned with the challenges of the increasing number of ELL/ESL students.
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Foreign Languages - South Carolina ETV and ITV

Grades
1 to 6
0 Favorites 0  Comments
   
This Website is designed to meet the needs of schools that would like to offer foreign languages but have no language. It serves as an introductory-level course in French, German, ...more
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This Website is designed to meet the needs of schools that would like to offer foreign languages but have no language. It serves as an introductory-level course in French, German, or Spanish. Each 10-15 minute lesson presents many words, with emphasis on the spoken word rather than the written word. Teachers of gifted may have students who want to learn a language as independent study using this site. This site requires Adobe Acrobat Reader and Windows Media Player. Get it from the TeachersFirst Toolbox page..

tag(s): french (89), german (66), spanish (109)

In the Classroom

Share the videos as a whole-class lesson on a projector. You will need speakers for the audio portions of this site. Include this site on your teacher web page for students and parents to access as a reference. As you study different continents or cultures, include a little of the language to expose your students to the "sounds" of other places. If you have ESL students in your class, share a video for the native English speakers to better understand the experience of learning a new language.

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Soaring High With Kites - everythingesl.net

Grades
1 to 6
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This multi-level lesson plan for ESL students offers opportunities for vocabulary development, reading, writing, and cultural sharing by responding to stories and books about kites....more
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This multi-level lesson plan for ESL students offers opportunities for vocabulary development, reading, writing, and cultural sharing by responding to stories and books about kites. Primary grade tecahers could also use it in a unit on weather or as an interdisciplinary science/language arts activity. Because of its high interest level, it motivates students to participate in understanding new words and in expressing their ideas about the books they read and the techniques and history of kite flying in their countries. Students also read and talk about kite safety rules and examine websites about kites. Writing opportunities include writing rules,original stories, cultural histories haiku, and diamante poems. Students also get to design, make, decorate and fly their own kites.

tag(s): poetry (221), vocabulary (318)

In the Classroom

Plan a kite day in the fall or spring and use all or part of these plans to learn new words, build kites, and even fly them before you write about them. This would be a terrific activity to include parents at school year's end.

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Learn English Kids - British Council

Grades
K to 6
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This ESL-focused site provides stories, activities, links, games, and plenty of opportunities for writing practice. Children can listen to the stories as they read them. Teachers can...more
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This ESL-focused site provides stories, activities, links, games, and plenty of opportunities for writing practice. Children can listen to the stories as they read them. Teachers can print flashcards for survival English vocabulary such as clothes, food, parts of the body, jobs etc.; accompanying activities provide reinforcement for vocabulary. Learn English Kids changes weekly, offering weekly activities, opinion polls, learning through songs, playground fun, and more. The read-aloud stories are a wonderful option for beginning readers and even non-readers. Both spelling and pronunciation are British.

Speech/language clinicians will join ESL and primary teachers in using the many activities on this site. It even has sorting activities such as fruits/vegetables (see "Food"). Although the interface is graphically appealing, by clicking on "Topics," users can find activities, songs, and games all organized by subject. There is also a large section for parents to help their child at home.

tag(s): flash cards (44), holidays (140)

In the Classroom

Make a shortcut to an activity each day on your classroom computer (RIGHT-clicking in the middle of the page will give the option to Create shortcut). This will give students an easy way to open today's activity, especially if you RENAME it with the student's name or place it in a certain corner of the desktop. Longer stories require the Real Player plug in. Get it from the TeachersFirst Toolbox page. In these stories, Students can double-click a word to find out its meaning!
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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Transparent Language: Hear Portuguese Survival Phrases - Transparent Language

Grades
K to 12
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Learn the basics of Portuguese. This could be very helpful for teachers working with Portuguese-speaking ESL/ELL students or for your English-speaking students who are curious about...more
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Learn the basics of Portuguese. This could be very helpful for teachers working with Portuguese-speaking ESL/ELL students or for your English-speaking students who are curious about other languages. Gifted students might enjoy comparing languages using this site and other tools.

tag(s): gifted (83), portuguese (22)

In the Classroom

Use the Portuguese "word-of-the-day" tool to help ELL students transition into an english speaking classroom. In addition to their daily lessons, use this translated word of the day to provide them with extra vocabulary. To help students overcome social shyness, have them teacher their classmates the word of the day in Portuguese and English - allowing them to practice speaking in and English as well as maintain ownership of their primary language.

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ESL Teacher Handouts, Grammar Worksheets, and Printables - Using English.com

Grades
K to 12
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Find ESL Teacher Handouts, Grammar Worksheets, and Printables on this site. These will give you a quick source of easy-to-use handouts for instant extra practice with your ESL/ELL students....more
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Find ESL Teacher Handouts, Grammar Worksheets, and Printables on this site. These will give you a quick source of easy-to-use handouts for instant extra practice with your ESL/ELL students. Parents may elso find the handouts helpful at home.

tag(s): grammar (210), worksheets (63)

In the Classroom

ESL/ELL teachers may want to share this source with regular classroom teachers and with parents to help provide students with extra practice. Some of your larning support students may benefit from them, as well. Don't forget to print the answer sheet, as well!

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