One of the most frequent requests I get from students, especially now that I’m teaching mostly adults, is for resources they can use to practice English on their own. Understandably, since they are paying a fair amount of money for classes and books already, my students are most interested in free resources. In early 2021, I shared some resources I’ve made for students in the posts Student Reference Tools and New Resources for a New Semester. I brought most of these reference links and downloads together into two posts, each with the resources specifically geared toward the curriculum we use (Pathways by National Geographic, Listening/Speaking and Reading/Writing). This week I’d like to share with you two of the resource lists I use for more general requests. These lists are not tied to any specific curriculum and are broader in their application. The resources included in these lists would be appropriate for upper elementary through adults, with a few being applicable to lower elementary as well. You can see previews of each resource to the side here and the link to download the PDF file is below each image. Let’s get into some details about each file.
Helpful Free Resources
This compilation contains links to ten different resources for all different types of helpful sites.
- Word Hippo–an extremely helpful online dictionary/thesaurus (also an app) that also includes pronunciation, translation, and word form options
- Khan Academy–not just for math anymore, there’s a great section for grammar learning and practice
- DuoLingo–a free website/app for learning English, particularly helpful phrases and basic vocabulary
- KnightCite–helpful for citing references in MLA, APA, or Chicago format while writing
- ESL Cyber Listening Lab–listening activities with comprehension exercises
- Read & Write–an extension that will read websites and online documents aloud in the Chrome browser
- Creating Recordings–two different options for when students need to create a recording or video
- YouTube Channels–three different channels great for learning and reviewing grammar, vocabulary, and more
Each of the ten resources includes a link to the website, links to the app in the Google Play and Apple stores (where applicable), a brief description of why it is useful, and a logo or picture to help students ensure they’re in the right place (especially when they can’t use the direct link for some reason and try to locate the site by name).
Free Sites to Play English Practice Games
Practicing anything is more fun if it can be done in a game format. There is also a growing amount of research supporting the idea that we learn more through play than study alone. It is no surprise that my students prefer to play games rather than complete workbook style exercises, so I’ve compiled this set of eight sites to allow them to do just that. Some of the sites are geared more towards younger learners but my students haven’t minded. We have a good relationship and they know from our time in class that I respect them. Once again, each of the eight sections provides a link to the website, links to the app in the Google Play and Apple stores (where applicable), a brief description of the site (including if it is geared toward children), and a logo or picture to help them identify the correct site. The included sites are:
- Jeopardy Labs–Jeopardy games to practice just about anything
- MES Games–games aimed more towards children for practicing vocabulary and basic grammar
- Educa Play–great for older learners to practice vocabulary and grammar
- English Club–organized into sections for grammar, vocabulary, spelling, and pronunciation and geared toward older learners
- Review Game Zone–more difficult to navigate with older style games but still free and useful for practice
- ESL Games+— definitely aimed at children with games for basic vocabulary and beginning grammar
- Quizlet–make your own vocabulary sets or use the premade ones, also an app
- Free Rice–practice English and help feed the world’s hungry through a partnership with the World Food Program, also an app
Since students need to be able to click the links, distributing paper handouts wouldn’t be nearly as helpful as providing the PDFs digitally. For this reason, I place them in our Blackboard class (or Moodle, Google Classroom, Padlet…) so my students can download the files for use whenever they need. My students have really appreciated the PDFs and tell me they’ve enjoyed being able to practice on their own. They were frustrated by not knowing if they could trust the sites they found to be accurate in the information and answers they provided and this relieved that stress. While there are many other excellent free resources in existence, I chose to keep the lists short so as not to overwhelm students and these are the ones I found myself recommending most often. I hope your students will find it as helpful as mine have. Happy teaching, everyone!