“The number one benefit of educational technology is that it empowers people to do what they want to do. It lets people be creative. It lets people be productive. It lets people learn things they didn’t think they could learn before, and so in a sense it is all about potential.”
– Steve Ballmer
Teachers often ask me to name the best web tools for language learners. As a connected teacher and trainer, I bookmark web tools daily and share them via Pearltrees, Listly, Diigo, Symbaloo, and Pinterest. These lists have more than 100 resources, presentations, and examples you can access for free by connecting with me on these networks. Below, I am sharing the top ones for language teachers and learners with a few ideas on how to use them this school year.
Rewordify– Paste in difficult sentences, paragraphs, or chapters of text and Rewordify changes it into easier language and vocabulary. Teachers can take the new vocabulary and create games.
Quizlet– Make flash cards with vocabulary lists or choose from many flash cards users have already created. Play various games with these vocabulary lists and access on any mobile device with the free app.
Makebeliefs– Create two, three and four panel comics in multiple languages with no registration. Choose from their library of characters and backgrounds. Access 350+ free printables in various subjects like history, geography, and science. Has a free iPad app.
ToonDoo– Create comic strips or books with a library of characters and background or draw your own.
Use these sites for daily journal/blog writing, to spark a discussion on your virtual learning environments or learning management system, or as Icebreaker speaking prompts.
Corn Dog Art features video and visual writing prompts.
John Spencer’s Photoprompts Tumblr is filled with many fun images that spark the imagination.
Luke Neff’s Writing Prompts are aligned with the common core.
Boggles World Creative Writing has many writing prompts specifically designed for English language learners.
Students can create their own digital writing prompts with words and images using PicLits.
Buncee– Create multimedia posters, scrapbooks, or slides with audio, video, stickers, templates, text and more. Also, has a free iOS app.
Tackk– Create beautiful posters or flyers with images, drawings, videos, charts, and more. Accessible on any device and no registration required. Various editing features and options.
Thinglink– Take any image and add hyperlinks that show video, text, Twitter profiles, and more. I create student maps with this because they don’t have to register if I set it to “anyone can post.”
Smore– Make multimedia flyers with templates that allow video, text, and images. Has free apps for iOS and Android devices.
Biteslides– Create digital scrapbooks or presentations with videos, images, and text.
Piktochart– Use this free tool to create Infographics with links. They have a library of templates, clip art, and fonts to choose from.
Blendspace– Create boards with quizzes, links, pdfs, and more.
Prezi– Design non-linear presentations with videos, images, and links. Choose from their library of templates and fonts. Include background music or narrate the presentation. Has a free mobile app.
Haiku Deck– Create beautiful slide presentations easily with their library of images and templates. Has a free mobile app.
Create a Book or Magazine
Storybird– Students create beautiful text stories by choosing from their library of free art. The story is embeddable. With a teacher account create student logins. Students can collaborate on stories.
Zooburst– 3D pop up book creator. Students choose from their library of characters or upload their own drawings and pictures.
LittleBirdTales– Upload images, draw within the pages, add text and record your voice to narrate the stories.
Flipboard– Create a personalized digital magazine with your bookmarks and feeds from
social media (Twitter, RSS, blogs, Flickr, Facebook, and Instagram)
Powtoons– Create fun animated videos with their library of music, text, and characters.
Animoto– Create a high quality and professional video. 30 seconds free but teacher accounts get more time and options. Upload images, choose a soundtrack and template from the library, add transitions, add short video clips, and include text. Has free apps for iOS and Android devices.
Magisto– Create a video with up to 25 clips or 30 photos, choose a theme and soundtrack, and add text, images, and video clips. Has free apps for iOS and Android devices.
Educreations– Students collaborate on a web whiteboard and add images, text, their audio narration, graphics, and more. Record and edit a 9 minute screencast video of what happens on the whiteboard. Teachers can create classes for students to send their videos. Has a free iOS app.
Popcorn Maker– Take any video and add sound effects, transitions, and more!
GoAnimate– Choose from various characters, type in the dialogue, choose your background scene, and create a free fun movie.
ZimmerTwins– Choose from various characters, type in the dialogue, choose your background scene, and create a fun movie.
Design a Game or Quiz
Kahoot– Create trivia quizzes accessible on any device. Students are then prompted to make their own.
Scratch– Code and program a game with graphics, characters, and more!
Infused Learning– Create multiple choice, true/false, polls, quizzes, or games that students access on any device. They respond through typing or drawing.
Socrative– Assess students with multiple choice, true/false, polls, quizzes, and games. They respond with any device.
Photopeach– Create quizzes with your own images and add music.
Bubblr– Create quizzes for any Youtube video.
Voki– Add voice via text or audio to animated characters, animals, and historical figures. Students can add their own drawings as a background. The teacher community has
Google HangOuts– Host a video chat with 10 people, collaborate on Google Docs and presentations, and record and automatically send to a Youtube channel.
VoiceThread– Interactive way to present stories, images, or host discussions. Parents and students can leave comments by text, video, or audio. They can draw on the images and choose avatars.
Voxopop – Set up collaborative audio discussions or join many other audio discussions started by language teachers and learners.
Linoit– Sticky web wall accessible on any device in which students can post videos, images, audio, or text notes. No registration required.
Padlet– Create a beautiful sticky web wall with their various templates and image. No registration required and accessible on any device. Students can post videos, images, audio, or text notes.
Comment Bubble– Students can leave written comments on any Youtube video you choose and all can see them.
Podcasting and Audio Recording
All of these are available on the web and have free apps for iOS and Android devices.
Vocaroo– Easily record audio then email to students who can record audio back. No registration is required. You can also send a link or download the clip.
iPadio– Record up to 60 minutes of audio, download mp3s, and add up to 4 images.
Audioboo– Record up to 10 minutes of audio with unlimited posts.
Spreaker– Record 10 hours of audio total and add music and sound effects.
Soundcloud– Recommended for adults only. Record 120 minutes of audio total and choose a CC license. Students can leave text comments on post.
Google Drive– create collaborative spreadsheets, presentations, documents, and more. Use the Research feature under the Tools tab to quickly find creative common images and scholarly materials that include the MLA, APA, and Chicago Style citations.
Evernote– Create text, photo and audio notes that you can draw on and access offline. Download the suite of apps to take quick snapshots of websites and annotate and highlight them. Connect with Postach.io to easily blog all your research. Many more features including free apps for any device.
Popplet– Students can collaborate on a mindmap that includes Flickr images, Youtube videos, links, text, and their own images and drawings.
Virtual Learning Environments
Edmodo– Safe microblogging and virtual learning platform that resembles Facebook and Twitter. Create assignments, grade or give a digital badge. Many other features including free mobile apps for any device.
Educlipper– Safe bookmarking and virtual learning platform that resembles Pinterest and Edmodo. Create boards or eportfolios of pinned videos, images, pdfs, websites, and more. Give assignments, grade work or give digital badges. Free iOS app with video and audio commenting.
Google Communities– Set up a private or closed network that is accessible on any device. Students can post images, videos, status updates and more. Students must be ages 13 and up.
Schoology– Set up a learning management system similar to Edmodo that is accessible on any device. Post assignments, grade, keep attendance and more.
Nearpod– Create assignments and presentations for your classes. Students enter your live session with a pin on any device and turn it into you right there. Grade their work.
Kidblog– Free blogging for students. Set up login names and passwords, no registration needed.
Edublogs– Free blogging and virtual classroom platform especially made for teachers. Free app.
PBWorks– Create several free collaborative websites that are ad free where students can upload images, video, and more. Has a tool to check for plagiarism.
Wikispaces– Create several free collaborative websites that are ad free where students can upload images, video, and more.
Wix– One of the best free tools for creating a high quality website. Choose from templates and include many apps to make it interactive. You don’t need to be web designer. Mobile-friendly sites available.
Weebly– One of the best free tools for creating a high quality website. Choose from templates and include many apps to make it interactive. You don’t need to be web designer. Mobile-friendly sites available with an app to edit your Wix.
What are your favorite web tools for language learners?
And of course, don’t forget to bookmark ESL Library and Sprout English for your resource, materials, and lesson plan needs. For some more back to school tips see this previous post, A Beautiful Beginning: 10+ Tips & Resources for Creating a Safe Classroom Environment.
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