Stuart Mill English

How to Learn, How to Teach English

Teaching English British Council

Website Review: Teaching English www.teachingenglish.org.uk/

In short: The best site for English teachers on the internet. If you only have time to visit one site a day, this should be it. What do you need? Activities for you classroom? They got ‘em.  Training to make you a better teacher? Oh heck yeah. A worldwide community to bounce ideas off of, get help from, and have fun with. Si. Da. Nae. Hai. Tak. Yes. Yes. Yes.

For students: This site is mainly for teachers, but if your teacher isn’t using it, you might tell them about it. Also, check out their sister site for students: http://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/en

For teachers: If you can’t find what you’re looking for, they also have links to tons of other sites. Oh, and make sure to like them on Facebook…

http://www.facebook.com/TeachingEnglish.BritishCouncil

April 21, 2011 Posted by | Website Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

esllistening.org/eslreading.org

Website Review: esllistening.org/eslreading.org

In short: Some great materials. The best parts are the stories. You can read, listen, and read simple versions. They are written by Kieran McGovern and he is very talented. You can learn more about him here.

Though the site design has improved recently, there are still broken links. Sometimes, the site is confusing. Most links open in a new window, so if you browse the site, you need to close a lot of windows.

For students: Check out the podcasts page for an excellent collection of listening materials.

For teachers: Click on the “reading” tab on eslreading.org to learn all about choosing ESL books (readers) for your classes. You can also read an article about writing readers.

December 16, 2010 Posted by | Website Reviews | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

bbclearningenglish.com

Website Review: bbclearningenglish.com

In short: Wow, what a great site. Some of the best things are:

  • 6 minute English—Real people being interviewed on a topic and explanations of the natural English. The vocabulary explanations that you can listen to and read are super helpful. Plus, there are two years of weekly episodes to listen to.
  • Get that job” has lots of useful quizzes that’ll help you get ready to apply for a job in English.
  • Short lessons on Business English and traveling in London with quizzes.
  • And much more. The “Grammar, Vocabulary, and Pronunciation” category has 11 sections (This pronunciation tool is especially cool.)

For students:The Flatmates” are fantastic short episodes about a group of young Londoners. Listen every morning. It’ll only take a few minutes. It’s a great way to start your day.

For teachers: Be sure to click on the for teachers tab to find tons of great stuff (like lesson plans) that practically turns the site into a full-on curriculum.

September 27, 2010 Posted by | Website Reviews | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Beyond Practice Tests: Factual Information Questions

Beyond Practice Tests: Factual Information Questions

Five ways to study Factual Information questions.

On a test like the TOEFL, Factual Information questions ask you to find an answer that the reading specifically answers. In other words, if you understand the vocabulary and grammar, you should get these questions correct all of the time. Here is a short reading and two simple Factual Information questions:

John went to the store and bought apples. After that, he went to the bank before stopping at the post office to mail some letters. Back home, he just watched some TV and took a nap.

What did John buy?

  1. a. Apples
  2. b. Oranges
  3. c. Bananas
  4. d. Carrots

Why did John go to the post office?

  1. a. to mail some letters
  2. b. to buy stamps
  3. c. to talk to his friend
  4. d. to get a package

Of course, these are easy examples, but if you study well, real factual information questions will be easy too. How can you study well? Of course, practice tests are very useful. But, what if you don’t have any more practice tests?

Here are five study strategies.

Reading and Writing Read a magazine article. When you’re finished, write down ten things you learned.

How did you know that? After you’ve written ten things you learned from an article, write down the ten sentences from the article that taught you those things.

Make Practice Questions Write practice questions for an article. Include the real answer and three wrong answers. When you choose the wrong answers, try to pick things that you might guess.

Try to know everything Look at sentences. Write down every fact that is in the sentence. For some sentences there might be ten new things that you can learn. Try to find as many as you can.

Be Random Randomly choose ten words, expressions, or sentences from an article. Then, read the article. Finally, create questions that use the things you chose as the answers.

September 4, 2010 Posted by | Studying Strategies, Test Prep | , , , , | 1 Comment

iteslj.org

Website Review: iteslj.org

In short: One of the five best ESL sites on the internet. They have everything. They’ve been putting out great material for 15 years and let’s hope they never stop. Their own menu bar says it all: Articles, Lessons, Techniques, Questions, Games, Jokes, Things for Teachers, Links, and Activities for Students.

The site is organized perfectly. There’s no distracting advertising. If you have a slow connection, this site will still load quickly. What more could you want?

For students: The “Activities for Students” button will take you to this site a4esl.org, There, you’ll find many fun things you can do to improve your English.

For teachers: You can learn from the articles and use the lessons, techniques, etc. Why not contribute as well? See if you can get an article published. You’ll learn a lot while preparing it and give a little back to the community of teachers and students around the world.

August 30, 2010 Posted by | Website Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

eslflow.com

Website Review: eslflow.com

In short: Lots of links for teachers (and some in-house material). You’ll find handouts and lesson ideas that you’ll surely be able to use. Some of the links are really awesome, others are just OK or may not work in an ESL classroom (e.g. the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice’s site). But, that might be being too picky. It’s really great that they link to stuff that wasn’t just intended for the ESL classroom, and what one teacher can’t see the use for another might turn into a golden lesson. Some of the links are broken and a lot of the stuff is old, but the broken links aren’t distracting and the old are still good.

For students: This is really a site for teachers, but you might enjoy printing off some worksheets for extra practice on many topics.

For teachers: The organization of the site is quite good (if just a little messy at times). Follow the categories or use the search function to find just about anything you’re looking for.

August 9, 2010 Posted by | Website Reviews | , , , , , | Leave a comment

manythings.org

Website Review: manythings.org

In short: Many things indeed! And each thing is educational and will work quickly on any computer—even slow computers, even computers with slow internet connections.

To begin, there are hundreds of vocab lists and more than 20 games to play with each one. For example, you can do crossword puzzles or match opposite words (e.g. fat-skinny).

But, that’s just the start of the site. Students can practice listening to sounds that are similar (minimal pairs), work with English proverbs, match definitions to words, browse links to YouTube videos, listen to jokes, learn songs, read English signs, read/listen to news stories, and many more.

The Flash Quizzes for ESL Students will make you say “wow.” With all the grammar practice you’ll become an expert. Heck, you can even learn all about American history.

Above all, everything is high quality. The word lists are strong. Definitions are short and good. It all works easily and quickly.

For students: Go to the Random Sentence Generator page. After you learn a new verb tense, use the page to see thousands of examples.

For teachers: Have the students visit it and find three activities they think look cool. At the start of the next class, have them share what they found in pairs, or just write them on a slip of paper for you to check.

July 29, 2010 Posted by | Website Reviews | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

eslfast.com

Website Review: www.eslfast.com (www.eslyes.com)

In short: These identical websites appear simple at first, but there is a very large amount of material and it’s all really good stuff. It’s best for low-level reading practice.

You can read and listen to stories and conversations. You can also do several excellent activities related to the stories and conversations. There are Yes/No comprehension checks as well as cloze (fill-in-the-blank), sentence order, and dictation activities.

It would be nice if the vocabulary linked to an ESL dictionary (like this: www.ldoceonline.com). Also, the layout and organization are terrible. Still, the material is excellent and that’s what’s most important.

For students: Go to the site and click on any story. First read, then listen, then click the links at the bottom of the page to do the exercises. There are 365 stories on the home page, so it might be fun to try and do them all in one year.

For teachers: You could assign specific stories as homework, or go over the stories in class and then have the students do the follow-up exercises as homework. There are so many stories and conversations that you should be able to find something relevant to what you’re doing in class.

Another idea would be to have the students choose a random story for homework and then report on it for the next class.

July 5, 2010 Posted by | Website Reviews | , , , , | Leave a comment

englishonline.org.cn

Website Review: englishonline.org.cn

In short: A great site. An amazing site. This is a really wonderful site.

Let’s start by saying that it’s difficult to describe this site “in short”. You’ll need about three hours to just look at everything. But the fine British Council folks in China have made a site that’s easy to understand and use. Grab a cup of tea and start enjoying all the great resources.

First off, you can read and listen to stories and articles on many different subjects and themes. Easy to use glossaries are there to help students with difficult words.

Then you might check out some idioms or other shorter bits of language on the site. They come with wonderful audio tracks, videos, or cartoons.

Maybe the best things on the site are the video and audio series. “Big City Small Word” is an audio soap opera that would be great for students studying alone or for a class to listen to together. If you’re looking for Business English resources, you’ll find an essential series that takes you from an employee getting fired through interviews and to a new person starting.

And everything is very interactive. You really feel like you’re part of a global English community.

For students: In addition to reading, listening, and following a series, you can also play lots of useful games. This site makes it easy to learn English. Have fun!

For teachers: Click on the “Go To English Online Teachers” tab to find a bunch of resources just for you. You’ll find downloadable workshops and other great tools to help you become a better teacher. There are even lesson plans that accompany some of the material on the main site.

June 14, 2010 Posted by | Website Reviews | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment