In February, I spent a lot of time looking for reading and listening resources my students could use for some after class language practice I teach several elementary and pre-intermediate students and finding level-appropriate online resources was more difficult than I’d expected. I also stumbled upon two interesting apps for teachers and learned about a potentially incredible learning website which I’m not quite sure how to use. Take a look!
3 Resources for after class language practice
I’ve known of this site for quite some time, but for some reason, I gave it a better look just last month. I loved it instantly.
Dreamreader.net is a website offering free reading practice to English learners. You can find a ton of reading and listening resources divided neatly into several categories (Easy English, Fun English, Interesting English, Practical English, and Academic English). Some categories contain their own series of lessons like Pictures, Pictograms, British Slang, and more.
The lessons cover a variety of topics and it’s very easy for students to find something interesting to read and listen about. The best thing about Dreamreader.net is that each reading text goes with its own audio file, allowing the users to practice their listening skills as well. I love the design of the website and how user-friendly it is. I got great feedback from my students who’ve been using the website alone. They loved the variety of topics and how the lessons weren’t too long. It’s updated regularly, which is yet another plus.
Sometimes I feel like my search for interesting listening resources for my students will never be over. I might stick to Elllo for the time being as it:
a) provides listening exercises for different levels
b) provides transcripts, audio notes, comprehension and vocabulary quizzes for each mini lesson
c) offers a variety of quite interesting topics and different types of activities
The layout might not be the most eye-pleasing but the website is functional and easy to use. There are occasional typos in the scripts or quizzes and I warn my students about that.
Several of my adult students are preparing for different exams this year. Marking their written assignments has revealed that spelling problems affect both lower and higher level students. How to Spell offers an incredible number of spelling activities divided into different categories by level or exercise type. How to Spell takes spelling seriously yet doesn’t shy away from lighter activities (word searches or crosswords).
2 Apps for teachers
#1 Tiny Tap
I’m not sure where I first saw an article about this app, but the idea of creating my own language games and quizzes accessible for mobile use sounded pretty cool. I must admit I haven’t used Tiny Tap much and it’s still on my to-try out list. I’ve seen several free games available to EFL learners (mostly kids) and I think it’s a tool worth exploring.
#2 Rainy: Mediate, Sleep, Relax
OK, it might not be specifically a teaching/learning app, but it has definitely added some new flavour to my lesson preparation and marking time. I’ve always liked having some light music in the background, but at some point I discovered that only very subtle sounds wouldn’t distract me. Rainy allows you to mix a variety of sounds (rain, fire, meditation, traffic, even a vacuum cleaner) to compile a perfect soundtrack to your everyday activities. Give it a try if you can’t stand the silence while working, but listening to the radio doesn’t do it for you anymore.
1 Burning Question
I’ve recently stumbled upon a website which seemed extremely promising. It’s called Lingorank (Test and Score Your English Listening Skills With TED Talks) and it lists TED Talks according to their level (measured by the speed of speech). It also allows you to test your level (using audio track from Elllo). When I found it I thought it would be a great idea for students to work with TED Talks at home alone. Then, I realised I had no idea what they are supposed to take away from this website. I didn’t notice any comprehension questions / vocabulary activities that would accompany each Talk. I’d love to recommend this site to students, still I’m not sure how they are supposed to test and score their English using it. I feel like I’m missing something here and it’s really frustrating. If you’ve had any experience with Lingorank and can make any recommendations, please let me know!