Showing posts with label Website Reviews. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Website Reviews. Show all posts

GoNoodle Plus

If you are interested in doing more with GoNoodle now you can do it for free thanks to El Camino Hospital who is paying subscriptions for all Silicon Valley teachers. Just sign-up at GoNoodlePlus. Once you register you will see the message:
GoNoodle Plus includes all the features of GoNoodle, with unlimited access to activities like: Mega Math Marathon, Bodyspell, and more.
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Verbling-Language Exchange Program

I've been looking for a way to connect my students to native English speakers so that they may practice their English.  I tried different ways to get exchanges: emailing Spanish teachers in the U.S., asking family members, friends, then I realized they could do it through the internet.  

I began looking at the different options available like Verbling.  

What it is:
A free web-based site where you can find a native speaker to practice the language you are interested in through a live video chat.

How it works:
It is fairly easy to set up an account. It takes a few seconds. You can sign-up using their easy registration feature. You then click on the Friends link and start looking for native speakers.  Next you click on the button Get partner and whoever is interested and has the language combination you have indicated connects with you and you can start chatting. They also give you the option to write texts and send messages to the people you become friends with. This is a good option so that you may set-up times to connect back with the same persons in the future. 

One neat feature is a timer that is set for every 10 minutes. This lets you switch languages and both partners get something valuable out of the exchange.

Verbling has also added Classes and Tutors.

For more information on Verbling:

Other Language Exchange Programs

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English Language Exchange - Intercambios

Being able to go to an English speaking country to practice your language skills is the best option for your students hands down.  However, that may not always be possible.  The next best thing is to do a language exchange.  I did a language exchange when I was trying to improve my Spanish skills and it was excellent. I met my exchange partner for an hour. We alternated between Spanish and English between 10 to 15. We spoke about current events, our social life and more. 

There are several websites that offer language exchanges, but this one I found does a fine job and it is very easy to use. is an excellent site that allows you to search for pen pals all over the world.  You can narrow down your search by selecting the language, the country and the way you want to interact with your pen pal.  You can choose from people who are seeking to text chat to those who can do voice chat through Skype or other services.  You may also filter by age, gender and last log-in date (this way you are sure to get only active links).   Also you can choose to do an exchange as a classroom. This would be great if you want to do the exchange for your whole class.   If you are interested in doing a live exchange you are able to filter for the city you live in.

If you are not ready to create an account you can enter their live chat as a guest and wait for a member to contact you. I tried it and got contacted within a few minutes by someone from Hungary it was quite interesting. The site has gotten good reviews from Yahoo Magazine, PC World and the Wallstreet Journal.  It also has some free features and some premium features for a fee.

Other Language Exchange Programs
Language For Exchange
The Mixxer

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Great Game for Learning American Idioms

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Using Youtube to Improve Your English

One great way that I have found to improve your English Listening skills is to watch TV or Movies in English.  Theatres with Version Original movies in Madrid are not the norm as a matter of fact ironically there are not that many with all the interest there is in learning English you would think there would be more.  Considering all my students claim that countries that don't voice over their media speak a lot more English than Spain, yet when I assign them to watch at least :30 minutes in V.O. they moan and groan because the subtitles available are in Spanish.

So I tried to find other venues where my students could watch original version series with English subtitles.  I
found that many Youtube videos of American TV series have the option for subtitles, others have the text available and yet others are available with Closed Caption.  You have to be careful with the Closed Caption because sometimes the translation is way off, but a lot of them are pretty accurate.

Do a search for their favorite American series on Youtube like "Big Bang Theory with subtitles in English" the search will list some with the following: CC for Closed Captions, but others will have subtitles and not have the CC icon.  The other option some of these videos have is Interactive Transcript which has all the story text in a small window.

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Best of Youtube for ELL classes

My adult students had been asking me for more resources to practice their listening skills.  I found some but they were for more advanced students.  So in my research I found that many Youtube videos of American TV series have the option for subtitles, others have the text available and yet others are available with Closed Caption.  You have to be careful with the Closed Caption because sometimes the translation is way off, but a lot of them are pretty accurate, you just have to see the episode before you use it.

Teach your students to do a search for their favorite American series on Youtube like "Big Bang Theory with subtitles in English" the search will list some with the following: CC for Closed Captions, but others will have subtitles and not have the CC icon.  The other option some of these videos have is Interactive Transcript which has all the story text in a small window.

I use choose some videos to show with my class that have the different options so that they can see what is available.  I then can assign them as homework.  The day I assign them a video as homework I front-load the vocabulary by giving them a list of words and definitions that they might not understand in the video.  If there are any idioms or phrases I think they might have trouble with I include those also and I have a small quiz the next time we meet.  In this way they are able to enjoy an English video with less frustration and more success and some students start watching these on their own.

For those videos that have the Interactive Transcript, I provide my students with the transcript and ask to look for phrases, idioms or grammar we have been working in class.  These are some of the ways I use Youtube subtitled videos I would love to hear if you have any other ideas.
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Read Write Think-Excellent Young English Learner Site

I am always looking for ways to use online resources to teach English to kids. I discovered the Read Write Think website when I was teaching my 3rd grade English learners.  The first section I started using was their Letter generator because learning the parts of a friendly letter was a 3rd grade standard in California.

Read Write Think has many such online activities that are easy for kids learning english to practice their English language skills. One that I have also used effectively with my ELL's is the Comic Generator to practice Dialogue.  My students also used it to practice different grammar exercises.  For example we used it to practice have to, must and have got to.  When they finish kids can print their comic strips to share with the class or save them as a PDF’s and email them to you.  These are just two of the many interactives that are available in this site.

For teachers teaching English the site also has Lesson Plans and a wonderful section for Professional Development with Guides for Persuasive Writing, Choral Reading, Making Connections and many more.  Additionally the site has webinars and E-workshops for many strategies.

Check it out it is a wonderful resource for teaching English to kids and come back and share some of the ways that you or Young Learners have used it.

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Practice English Listening Skills Online

I discovered Storyline Online a few years ago when I was teaching Young English language learners in 3rd grade. I was trying to find English books online that were read aloud to improve their reading, listening and pronunciation skills.  My Young Learners loved it because they were popular books they had seen before and they liked seeing the famous actors reading these books.

Storyline Online, is an on-line streaming video program featuring SAG members reading childrens books aloud!   Each book includes accompanying activities and lesson ideas.  Actors read popular Young learner picture books like "Rainbow Fish", "Stellaluna" and many more. You have the option of having captions on or off which help Young English learners practice listening skills, while being supported by the subtitles.  These books have beautiful animated illustrations directly from the book. The Lessons and comprehension activities are great to evaluate students understanding of English and their listening skills.

I have used these videos with Young Learners as well as Adults and have had great success with them.
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Raz Kids Online Reading

I've been using Raz Kids with my students for a few years now with nothing but positive results.  I have now started using it with my adult ESL students with great results also.  At first I was not sure if the adults would like the stories because they are targeted to children, but up to now none of them seem to mind.  They love the fact that they can read at their level.  The other feature of Raz Kids that my ELL students love is being able to listen to the stories while they read them.  Since listening skills are what most of my students have difficulty with Raz Kids gives them excellent practice on this.  It is also an excellent way of practicing the correct pronunciation of words.
Words are highlighted in red as they are read out loud.
The comprehension part of Raz Kids is also a great feature, because it makes students responsible for what they are reading.  It tests vocabulary, recall, inference, details and more.  Students have to get 100% on the quizzes in order to move up to the next reading level.  The non-fiction comprehension tests are pretty challenging.

The differentiated reading instruction of Raz Kids animated leveled books is invaluable.  The levels available start from AA through Z level.  AA level is for beginning readers and the Z level is for fluent readers with higher comprehension skills (5th grade native English speakers)  Each level has about ten books both fiction and non-fiction.  Students can: Listen to books for modeled fluency.  Read books with pronunciation and vocabulary support.  Words that may be higher than the students level are clickable and Raz Kids can either read the word out loud or in higher levels give them a definition of the word.

Students can also record their reading and the teacher can listen to the recordings to evaluate the reading.  You can also use this as a measurement of their reading or pronunciation improvement.

Try it out and let me know how it goes with your students.
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Starfall is a great online free software that allows kids to learn to read in English with phonics in a fun way.  It has great graphics and activities. The animations and sounds are wonderful.  One of the features is the English alphabet where students can learn both the name of the letter and it's sound as well as pictures of words that have that sound in them and even simple games to test what they have learned.

As children learn the different letters they can progress through learning English words with other phonics sounds. For children that are emergent English readers Starfall has simple stories that children can read on their own and for words they can't read or pronounce it gives them the opportunity to click and have the words read to them. Starfall has different sections which children can progress through or can start on depending on their English level. The more advanced section has plays, nonfiction reading, comics and more.  The best thing about Starfall is that children enjoy it and if they are having fun they are learning.

My daughter began to use Starfall when she was two when the only language she knew was Spanish.  Starfall helped her develop her English vocabulary.  By the time she was 6 years old she was reading at 4th grade level (in part thanks to Starfall.)  She loved listening to the phonics songs and listening to the phonics books.  She still enjoys going to Starfall for its poems and activities. 

I used Starfall with my 1st grader English Learners who where having a difficulty with reading and they love it.  It gave them a chance to learn new English words and practice reading the words they new how to read while supporting them with those they didn't know.  They also loved the animations and the games.

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