The British Council edit each year a handy resource book to help busy teachers try out new activities in the classroom, with topics like: how students learn, warmers and fillers, online resources and motivating activities for pronunciation.You can download these free booklets at this link.
Here you have a selection of the favourite online resources, especially chosen for primary learners and for teachers looking activities for their lessons.
Age: All Ages Level:
Teachers URL: http://www.teachingenglish.org.uk
Brief Description of Resource: British Council/BBC website for ELT resources, training, development, and teacher interaction.
How We Use It: This site contains a wealth of resources of all teachers of English, focused on sharing resources, interaction, and professional development. It’s divided into five sections: Teaching resources; Teacher development; Teacher training; Articles; and Community. The most immediately exploitable is ‘Teaching Resources’, which has lesson plans, divided by level, on all kinds of topics from card games to CLIL. There are downloadable worksheets with many lesson plans, but also a section of activity ideas, and another with video tips from teachers on topics like ‘using songs’, the phonemic chart, or ‘energising classes’. Why We Like It: The variety of resources here is incredible – you can download articles or even whole books in some cases! The quality is perfect, as you’d expect from a British Council / BBC collaboration, but what’s also nice is that you can interact with anyone from experts (top names in the industry blog here) to other teachers from countries all round the world. These different perspectives create a really dynamic community, so if you’re looking for an idea, opinion, or experience, someone is bound to be able to help you out!
Age: Primary, Junior, Senior, Teens
Level: Beginner to Advanced
Brief Description of Resource: A website provided by the education department of the Generalitat de Catalunya.
How We Use It: There are four different areas with a total of over 90 websites, covering an eclectic assortment of purposes in support of education. They can be used to create animations, create collective stories and projects and a host of other possibilities, too numerous to mention here. Why We Like It: There’s an incredible variety of resources available. In fact at first the choice seems almost unlimited, but it’s amazingly useful to have them all in one place – especially when you’re in a hurry. Make sure to browse when you have a bit of spare time, so you know how to navigate the site quickly and efficiently. Once you get the hang of the layout, you are bound to keep coming back to look for more links. Further Commentary: Like all online resources, teachers will have to be vigilant regarding correct use. The site opens in Catalan language, but is very visual – you should be able to work out quite easily which sites do what, and of course the linked sites themselves are not in Catalan!
LEARN ENGLISH KIDS
Age: Primary and Very Young Learners
Level: Beginners to Bilingual
Brief Description of Resource: Free online games, songs, stories and activities for children to have fun and learn English.
How We Use It: There are 5 sections: Games – on different topics and to practise vocabulary. Lots of fun! Listen and watch – stories, songs, short videos, tongue twisters. Plus worksheets to download. Read and write – become a member and write to the site (all comments are moderated to maintain a safe environment), print worksheets, videos with kids explaining vocabulary. Make – tons of craft ideas with things to make and download. Speak and spell – songs, stories and games to practise pronunciation and spelling based on a UK phonics literacy programme Also, there’s a new grammar section coming soon, and a parents’ page with lots of information on how to teach your child at home. There are links to tips for teachers on how to use the materials in class. Why We Like It: LearnEnglish has everything you need to teach YLs in class and to help them at home. Children can work on their own or with an adult, but it won’t feel like work! Kids love it. Parents love it. Teachers love it. Great for recommending to parents to use with kids at home.
Level: Elementary – Intermediate
Brief Description of Resource: Voki is a website which enables you to create speaking avatars.
How We Use It: You can design the appearance of your avatar and then type messages which the avatar will say aloud. This is useful for younger students who are learning vocabulary used to describe appearance or who are learning to construct simple sentences. They can type what they want the avatar to say. You could even get students to create dialogues using their avatars. It’s engaging and motivating for the learners, as they see their avatars speaking, and the avatars are really professional looking. Why We Like It: It’s colourful and lets the student get creative. It’s fairly easy to use and it helps students practise their writing and vocabulary. It’s fairly easy to explain. Although the site looks a bit ‘busy’ and visually overwhelming, you can navigate through the bits you want and ignore the rest. Further Commentary: The only thing really to recommend is for the teacher to have a clear idea of the activity they’re going to do. Don’t just get them to create an avatar without a linguistic purpose already prepared.
Age: Primary – Adult
Level: All Levels
URL: http://www.discoveryeducation.com/ free-puzzlemaker
Brief Description of Resource: Free online puzzle maker that you can use to create word searches, crosswords, etc.
How We Use It: With higher level groups you can create crosswords which help recycle vocabulary covered over a unit. You enter the missing words and then write a definition for each one, which gives quite good practice in itself. You can add a competitive element by having them do the crosswords in small groups, which kids and adults alike love. Lower level primary groups can do word searches to recycle or present vocabulary. You can add pictures and the students have to find the corresponding words in the grid – a great filler for fast finishers or lexical reinforcement activity. Why We Like It: The website itself is very easy to use and creating the activities is a simple task. As you enter all the words / definitions yourself, you can tailor the content to each particular class and really focus on what you want them to learn or what has been covered in class. If you have access to enough computers, you can get the students into small groups and have them create their own puzzles and set a challenge for other groups, which they find fun and motivating. Further Commentary: Go to it and have a look!
Age: Primary upwards
Level: Pre-intermediate upwards
Brief Description of Resource: Collection of stories read by famous actors, from the Screen Actors Guild of America.
How We Use It: You can use one of these stories as a ‘calmer’ or ‘settler’ activity, but also in a very active way. Sometimes you can just get the kids to listen to a story and read it as they listen (younger groups especially). Other times, you can get students to take notes on vocabulary, grammatical structures, stress, intonation, and so on. Learn or study also how to structure stories. Or learners can do the accompanying activities. They can they do reviews or make posters based on the stories, or try story reconstruction activities, such as storymapping. Why We Like It: All stories come with subtitles and activities to do, before, during, and after reading. They can be used for various levels. They’re good stories, inoffensive and usually with an upbeat, optimistic ending. Higher levels who think the stories are going to be childish are often surprised at the quantity of new vocabulary to be found. One Proficiency class wrote two sides of A4 on a story read by Al Gore! Each story is very visual and the readers are professional actors who have obviously practised beforehand. Kids often leave the class in a relaxed and calm way and they usually ask for a story again. Further Commentary: The only thing to make sure of is that you know exactly which story you’re going to use and what activity you’re going to do.
VISUALS FOR FOREIGN LANGUAGE INSTRUCTION
Age: All Ages
Level: Beginner to FCE
Brief Description of Resource: Illustrations created for developing communication in ESL. How We Use It: The hundreds of illustrations contained on this site can be used to support instructional tasks such as describing objects and people (i.e. teaching vocabulary) or describing events and situations (i.e. teaching grammar). After you’ve chosen a topic, just open an image and then click on the ‘next’ option and you’ll have a series for review in class. There are also pictures with blank dialogue bubbles. You can also zoom in on an illustration and then pan across it so one illustration can be studied in detail. Why We Like It: This resource is great because it is fairly new and provides a catalogue of images that are ideal for use on the Interactive Whiteboard. The ‘Day in the Life’ series of images (that shows activities throughout the day along with a clock in the corner of the page) is highly recommended. Many of the situations in the images are related to vocabulary presented in course books. For example, ‘professions’, ‘clothes’, ‘sports’, or ‘transportation’ are all good for junior classes. If you type in ‘conversations’, you pull up images with dialogue boxes that can be used for greetings, exclamations, making requests and other language functions. Further Commentary: Just make sure you have a clear plan and know exactly what type of activity you’re going to do with the visuals before you spend time finding them – start with a topic not the images!
QUEST FOR THE REST
Age: Junior and Senior
Level: Beginner – Pre-intermediate
URL: http://amanita-design.net/ thequestfortherest
Brief Description of Resource: Online game to rescue little people, resulting in a lovely song.
How We Use It: Put the website up on the interactive whiteboard, the teacher keeps the pen. Ask students to describe the scene (feeding in relevant bits of vocabulary as you do so). Students then tell you what they think you should do, e.g. “press the green man”, “try the bird”, “click on the lizard”. You’re in control though, so only follow their suggestions if the sentences are correct and well pronounced. At higher levels, insist that they have to give you an idea of what might happen, e.g. “press the green man, becuase I think he’ll move”. Clicking on things will move the little people through three scenes to the final celebration song. Why We Like It: It generates lots of opportunities to practise conditionals or the future (phrases with modality like will/might/ may/could) while students think that they are focusing on something else entirely – a fun game with great visuals! (And they tend to enjoy the challenge, too.) Further Commentary: Try it yourself first, so that when they get stuck (and they will, no doubt about it) you can give them tips. Keep hold of the pen yourself, so you can decide if the phrases and pronunciation are good enough to follow the learners’ instructions.
Age: Primary / Junior – some activities could be adapted for other age groups
Level: Beginners, Elementary
Brief Description of Resource: Online site for teachers; ideas for classes; ready made worksheets; make your own worksheet; forum.
How We Use It: This site contains a wealth of resources of all kinds for teachers of English. It´s great for ready made worksheets and for designing your own flash cards, worksheets and board games. It´s also good for last minute substitution classes and ideas for fast finishers. Why We Like It: The resources are very attractive to both teachers and children with lots of new ideas for games for different types of classes. It looks at various different ways of presenting language in a way that a child would enjoy, e.g. crafts, music, games, etc. You can also comment on the worksheets to say how you have used them, adapted them or added ideas for getting more out of them. It´s easy to navigate and although you have to register it´s free. There is a very helpful forum where you can discuss with fellow teacher ideas, problems and suggestions. It also constantly uploads new worksheets. Further Commentary: This site is for teachers.
Age: All Ages
Brief Description of Resource: A blog on sharing tips and ideas for creating materials.
How We Use It: This blog is written by a materials writer, Rachael Roberts, who shares tips and ideas on developing materials and activities. You read the entries and think about how you can incorporate one or two interesting ideas into your lesson planning, e.g. listening while reading. Also good is reading the #ELTChat summaries, e.g. on Multiple Intelligences. One of the most interesting and relevant entries this year was on Assessment for Learning: a new way to meet individual learner’s needs? Rachel also includes a lot of references in her posts, which can obviously be useful. Why We Like It: The good thing about blogs is that you can receive notification of new posts by email, plus the posts are short so you can read and think about them on the Metro, e.g on a smartphone. Also great is the fact that she includes a lot of useful links to other bloggers and articles so you get even more food for thought or ideas. Further Commentary: This site is for teachers at any stage in their career and even if you don’t find her posts interesting, you can follow the links to plenty of alternative blogs and resources.
Age: All Ages
URL: http://www.fodey.com/generators/ newspaper/snippet.asp
Brief Description of Resource: Newspaper clip and animation generator.
How We Use It: For making realistic texts. Why We Like It: This site provides a wealth of possibilities for language presentation and reading. The newspaper articles look particularly realistic – lots of YL classes are fooled, anyway!
Age: All Ages
Level: All Levels
Brief Description of Resource: Helping students to communicate in two of the world’s global languages – English and football.
How We Use It: Students can play vocabulary games and practise their reading with stories about soccer on and off the pitch. Watch videos with exercises, do listening activities and grammar exercises. There’s also a section for teachers where you can find great resources: short activities which you can drop into any lesson; full lesson plans and worksheets across a wide range of themes; longer projects for teachers with more time; a growing encyclopedia of motivating information on players. Why We Like It: There’s a great variety of resources suitable for student selfstudy as well as for the classroom. There’s a strong emphasis on community with regular competitions that students can be involved in and an interesting blog section where they can post comments.
Age: All Ages
Level: All Levels
Brief Description of Resource: A very comprehensive resource covering all teaching skills, topics, and lesson plans based on grammar or vocabulary.
How We Use It: You can set homework tasks or additional work for students in need of support, find FCE and CAE exam-type prep tasks, or just sign in and get access to lesson plans, games and worksheets. The Macmillan dictionary buzzword activities are also great. Why We Like It: It’s just so useful for supplementary materials. It’s been going for years and the variety of materials for all kinds of teaching is really extensive. There’s also a one stop CLIL section useful for teachers of Bilingual classes.