“The noblest pleasure is the joy of understanding.”
—Leonardo da Vinci
Students around the globe enjoy using the Internet to communicate and learn. Many already use websites with reading or listening comprehension quizzes. The Internet has evolved and offers even more powerful ways for our English learners to increase fluency. Our students now have the opportunity to learn more interactively and enhance all four skills (speaking, listening, reading, and writing).
Below is a list of some incredible free websites and web tools that will engage your English learners and help them build fluency and comprehension. Some of these web tools are powered by machine learning. This means the more your English learners use these web tools, the better the web tools become at helping them with specific needs. Many of the websites also will let your learners know how much they’ve learned and improved. Additionally, some of the websites allow your English learners to speak or write and receive immediate feedback to help them correct their English grammar or pronunciation.
Microsoft Learning Tools
No registration is required to test out Microsoft’s Immersive Reader and Learning Tools. Students can scroll to the bottom of the website and copy and paste any text from a website, pdf, or document. Click Try It Out to access the text in the Immersive Reader. Students can then use the following features to engage with the text:
- Listen to the text read aloud and choose the speed and type of voice
- Change the font type, font size, background, letter spacing, and line spacing
- Click on any word to hear it pronounced
- Some words when clicked show an image to help students understand the meaning of the word
- Enable Parts of Speech to see nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs color-coded and labeled
When used with a Microsoft account, Onenote, Word or app, teachers and students have access to many more features, including writing help.
Quizlet, which is available as an app (iOS/Android) and on the web, is a great interactive study tool for building vocabulary. Students create digital flashcards with a list of vocabulary. Features include the ability to add images, have words pronounced in 18 different languages, and play engaging games. Students can also learn vocabulary through interactive diagrams. Teachers can build quizzes for students and present them live in class.
English Central is a website where students can practice their pronunciation by repeating phrases from popular videos into the computer’s microphone. Learners receive immediate feedback on their pronunciation. Students can also choose a level and learn new words by filling in the blanks created from the video’s dialogue.
Quill is a website with free interactive writing and grammar activities for elementary, middle, and high school students. The new English learner diagnostic includes translations in six different languages and generates a personalized learning plan for each student.
With en.news students enhance their English fluency by reading CNN articles. The website and app (iOS/Android) uses machine learning to automatically repurpose CNN’s latest articles, videos, and podcasts into interactive lessons. Learners can access transcripts, click on any word for the definition and pronunciation, complete activities, and earn points and badges.
Wordsmyth is a free online dictionary with several features and tools, which are especially helpful for young English learners. Students build vocabulary with anagrams, crosswords, various types of quizzes, and a glossary maker. My favorite tool is WILD, a free illustrated dictionary for children that sounds out words and illustrates them with colorful animated images. WILD is also available in Spanish and Chinese.
G Suite Tools
Google Suite apps (e.g., Docs, Slides, Forms, and Sheets) and the Chrome Browser have several features and add-ons to help English learners enhance their reading and writing skills. Learners can translate, check their spelling and grammar, look up words in a dictionary, conduct research, and much more. One of the newest features is captioning for Google Slides, which uses a computer’s built-in microphone to transcribe the presenter’s words and display them in real-time to the audience.
What websites or tools do your English learners use to enhance their comprehension and fluency?
If you want to receive more of Shelly’s tips for online resources for teaching English, check out her other ESL Library posts!