There are many good quality websites available for English as a Second Language (ESL) teachers to use as resources for their lesson planning and materials. The following are 5 favorite websites that I use as an ESL teacher. Below I explain why I find these sites exceptional and why I think you should bookmark these as favorites so you can easily find them throughout the year.
1. Reading A-Z and Science A-Z
The resources available at Reading A-Z are truly remarkable. I consider them one of the best sites for ESL teachers to utilize. My favorite features include:
- Reading passages offered for the various reading levels with the same content instruction.
- Teachers can search by Common Core Standards, Curriculum, Core Reading Series, and Language Proficiency Levels.
- Their resources include themed resources packs, non-fiction and fiction books, close reading packs, and learning centers.
- Each book includes lesson plans which include extension activities and differentiation ideas. Vocabulary lists are available per book.
- Non-fiction books include a Table of Contents and an Index. I have been frustrated with many leveled non-fiction books that do not include these features. It is difficult to teach young students various non-fiction text features when the lower leveled readers don’t include them. Reading A-Z non-fiction readers typically include these features and that is an amazing feature often overlooked.
Many schools have school-wide subscriptions to the reading program but not the science program. I can strongly recommend the science program. It offers the same benefits mentioned above with literature that supports common core instruction. I was able to find resources for classroom teachers to use for differentiation for ELs that matched many of their units. The students responded very positively to these books.
On the down side using this site effectively requires tons of printing. The time to print and compile the books may be detrimental if your class sizes are large. Be sure to add an estimate of your printing costs when calculating if you can afford the program.
There is a fee to use each of these sites. One classroom at Reading A-Z is currently 109.00/yr. The companion site Science A-Z is $99.95/class/year. I am curious about the Vocabulary and Writing A-Z programs. I have not used these sites but hope to in the future. Both of them are a bit less expensive per year than the Reading A-Z site. If I had to choose one subscription to purchase with my classroom budget I would purchase the Science A-Z and then if possible the Reading A-Z.
Cost: Average cost $100/year/class; district/building contracts are available.
This site is so useful I return to it again and again. Enchanted Learning includes over 35,000 worksheets that are ready to print and use. I have found that the site is especially useful when teaching K-3rd grade students although there are appropriate materials for the 4th and 5th grades as well. Enchanted Learning includes bilingual dictionaries for students. They include English to: Dutch, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish and Swedish. This expands every year. There are activities offered in many of the languages as well such as a German book with animal names etc. There is also an online Little Explorer’s dictionary with accompanying materials. There are rubrics, a worksheet generator, and much, much, more. It is well worth the money spent. The site has recently been updated and I find that it is easier to navigate than in the past.
Cost: $20 per year, per teacher
$125 per year, per building
Starfall offers a free interactive learning to read program. It begins with an interactive ABCs learning area which includes singing and letter sound activities. This is one of the best ways I have seen to integrate letter recognition with letter sound recognition.
The site can easily be used as the base curriculum to teaching reading to a child if you are a homeschool teacher. It is superb as a remediation tool and as a review tool as well for students K-3 who are learning to read.
This strengths of this site is in teaching students basic decoding and reading fluency. It only offers minimal comprehension activities. There is a store where you can purchase support materials and you can pay for greater access to additional resources but the basic site is still free to use for teaching/learning English reading skills. This site is truly my all time favorite website for ESL teachers looking for reading support in grades K-3.
ReadWriteThink is a site developed by three partner organizations to provide free high quality resources in reading and literature for teachers and parents. The National Council of English Teachers, Verizon Foundation and the International Literacy Foundation came together to create these materials and to provide many other resources. There hundreds of standards-based lesson plans written and reviewed by educators using current research and the best instructional practices. The main categories offered are: Classroom Resources, Professional Development, Videos, and Parent and After-school Resources.
I found this site a complex site full of many valuable literacy resources. It was a bit more difficult to navigate to exactly what I was seeking when compared with the other sites mentioned. The audience is wider so that may be why. I recommend giving yourself 20 minutes or so the first time you visit to acquaint yourself with how the navigation works.
I found the most useful resources for an ESL classroom under the Printables section of Classroom Resources. Here you can find ready-to-go KWL charts, grading rubrics, and graphic organizers and more.
5. ESL Library
ESL Library is a comprehensive site that offers materials and lesson plans that are up-to-date and of high interest to ELs. This is my favorite website to access when working with students who are in grades 6 – 12 or adults. They offer over 800 lessons. Some lessons are grouped into thematic collections such as: Idioms, Europe, and Gender Equality. Each collection contains multiple lessons within that topic area. They also offer lessons at the beginner, intermediate, and advanced English language proficiency levels about a myriad of English teaching topics: grammar, business English, forms, etc.
One unique aspect of this site is the Discussions and Debates section for intermediate and advanced learners. The materials here offer extended opportunities to use content vocabulary and topic knowledge at a deeper more meaningful level than many other learning opportunities I have seen offered online. Teachers can also develop files to keep in their personal collection of lessons they have chosen to use throughout the year. I highly recommend this site to middle school teachers, high school teachers, and especially to teachers of ESL adults. The flashcards (2000 +) offered through this website are well done and extremely useful. Personally, I think the price of a subscription for the flashcard collection alone is well worth the investment.
Cost: This is the only site I found that offers 3 month, 6 month and 12 month subscriptions. The subscriptions cost $22, $33, and $55 respectively for an individual teacher. Group pricing is also available.
These sites remain my favorite websites related to ESL instruction. They all offer various forms of leveled English instructional lessons, materials, and printouts. Which site I use more in a given year varies depending on the ages and grade levels I am teaching.