ESL Teachers’ Recommended Websites for Learners
By David Hoffman
With so many websites out there to choose from, it may seem impossible to find what you need. Maybe you have a question about grammar. Maybe you want to practice speaking and listening. Maybe you want to read news articles that suit your level, but you just don’t have time to evaluate all the ESL websites out there. Not to worry – you’ve come to the right place.
The instructors of Academic English Studies (AES) at Lewis & Clark College have years of experience and thousands of hours of instruction, and I recently gathered their favorite websites that they use or recommend to their students. Let’s check out some of their favorites.
As you follow along, click on any of the links to explore the pages yourself.
Dave’s ESL Cafe – This is one of my favorite sites for students. At the top of the page, you will see a tab called “Stuff for Students”. When you hover your mouse over this, you will see a drop-down menu with various options. Explore them all, but I particularly like the grammar lessons and the phrasal verbs. There are tons of grammar lessons, all clearly explained with plenty of examples. The phrasal verb list is the most complete I’ve seen. Also, check out the slang section – just for fun.
ELC Study Zone – This site is nice because its front page divides the lessons into levels. You can choose Upper Beginner, Lower Intermediate, Intermediate, Upper Intermediate, and Advanced. Each of the skill levels (except Advanced) has grammar lessons, some reading, and vocabulary as well.
YouGlish – This site combines the powers of online videos and dictionary pronunciation guides to show you how speakers of English pronounce words in context. A search bar greets you when you visit the site. Simply type the word you want to hear, and the website will find a video where the speaker uses the word you want. You can also select for US, UK, or Australian accents.
Fraze.it – Similar to YouGlish above, FRAZE.IT is a search engine for vocabulary words in context. Again, simply type in the word you want to see, and the search engine will find websites and articles that use your word in context so you can see how it is used. For example, I found 45,724 uses of the word “structure,” and sorting through those uses can help me know better how to use it in my own sentences.
Randall’s ESL Cyber Listening Lab – You might guess by its name or its design that this website has been around a long time, but it is still one of the best you’ll find for a lot of good listening tracks and activities for them. Don’t be fooled by the ads on the left. Your information is on the right and down the middle with listening activities divided into Easy, Medium, and Difficult. Listen to a few and see how you do on the exercises. Adapt as needed.
Newsela – If you’re like us, you like to read the news from time to time, to stay informed, to entertain, or, especially, to practice your second language. However, sometimes newspaper English can be dense and difficult to understand. Sign up for Newsela. It costs nothing to create a profile as a student, and you can access several up-to-date articles. After you sign up, click on “Browse Content,” select your article, and start reading. You can make each article easier or more difficult by clicking a tab at the top next to “Activities” and selecting up or down. Above each article, you can see the “Text Level” and “Word Count” to know how difficult the reading is. There are lots of articles which are constantly updated.
Quizlet – If you want to use the Internet as a study tool, no worries – we’ve got you covered there, as well. Check out this site. It helps you make study cards for vocabulary. Add the app to your phone and save time and money not having to create paper flash cards. Check out the cool diagram feature, too!
Corpus of Contemporary American English COCA – One of the marvels of the Internet age is our ability to search for and gather millions of texts instantaneously. These enormous databases of texts allow us to study how we actually use language. And that is just what COCA can provide for advanced learners of English. This site is a tool to check for context and collocation of vocabulary. Advanced users may know a lot of vocabulary but still be unsure when to use which word. For example, should I use “differentiate” or “delineate”? Use this site to find your answer. Type in a word in the search bar, and you will see hundreds of uses of each word. Checking each word’s context will help you determine which one American speakers prefer in given contexts.
There are so many good websites out there, and this is only a sample. However, it’s a good start for those of you looking for more opportunities to practice and improve your English.
Do you have any other sites you like to use? Comment below and share with us!