My favorite lifesaving websites for teaching English

Teaching English as a second language is not easy, especially when you first start out. If you have never done it before or had any previous training, you have probably never given much thought to your native tongue. If you still think that teaching English is inherently easy, think to yourself how you would explain the verb BE to a group of fifth grade students. I had to do this on the spot during one of my first days as an auxiliar, and in that moment realized I was going to have to re-learn my own language.

Fortunately, we now live in an era where almost everything we could ever want is on the internet, including any and all ESL teaching materials you could ever want. Over the past seven years I have scoured the internet for the best pages and resources, which I´ve compiled here for your viewing and teaching pleasure.  Most of them aren´t perfect and I encourage you NOT to use solely these resources. Everyone needs to develop their own style of teaching and find what works for them and their students. But resources like these can give you the support you need to get started, and can also serve as a motivating tool for your students.

Let’s have a look, shall we?

  1. ISL Collective

This website is a great jumping off point and I still use it from time to time. It is totally free to sign up and use and you can download any worksheets you want. It must be said that the pictures and graphics are usually very childish, and some worksheets are overwhelming with text. But the good thing about downloading is that you can edit them as you like. Many of them come with grammar explanations and graphics which is great for students too. I always suggest proofreading the worksheets before you use them because it is possible they will have mistakes. This website also has some Powerpoint presentations which can be nice for grammar explanations.

 

  1. Busy Teacher

This is similar to ISL collective, with a few differences. It is still free to use and you can download and edit the pages as you like. I find the graphics and pictures to usually be better than ISL, but the layout and the way of searching for worksheets seems more of a hassle than ISL. I use this page frequently for song lyric worksheets, but again, I ALWAYS proofread and usually change the worksheet in one way or another.

 

  1. Teachers Pay Teachers

As its name implies, some things are not free on this website, but they are very well done. It is so clearly an American teacher resource base and oozes with color and cuteness. There are plenty of free resources as well and hundreds of them are under 5 dollars. This site could be especially great if you are teaching any classes that are not specifically English. Think Art, Music, PE, or Science. All of the worksheets are made by native speaking teachers, usually come with lesson plan explanations and extensions, and hey, you’re supporting your fellow teachers. It’s a win-win all around.

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  1. Off 2 Class

This is an EXCELLENT resource no matter what kind of ESL teaching you are going to be doing, but especially great for private classes. You get a 30 day free trial, and when that’s up you can decide what kind of account you want. For as little as $5.50 a month you are able to have up to two student accounts and track their progress, assign homework, and check out placement tests they do. Even if you don’t take advantage of these offers, the site itself is a knockout. They have tons of different categories from speaking, reading, writing, and listening, to specific grammar tense presentations, exercises and games. If you are at all nervous about teaching grammar, check this site out. Once you get more comfortable with it and feel that you can great your own presentations, check out Prezi. Since I still did Powerpoint presentations in college, I only found out about Prezi a couple years ago. If you like to design presentations and majorly freak out your students, (in a good way), give it a shot! There are also tons of presentations available that you can use in your classes, (you can’t edit them though).

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  1. All Things Grammar

Pretty much exactly what it sounds like. Decent worksheets to practice different grammar aspects. I like the worksheets better than ISL because they all have the same layout, are much cleaner, and don’t have the god-awful graphics, but the big drawback is that you can’t edit them.

 

  1. ESL Games Plus and ESL Games World

Now we move on to the game section of the resources. These two websites are some of my and my students’ favorites. Eslgamesplus is for a little bit younger crowd, (although there are some more difficult games you can find as well—usually grammar oriented), and Eslgamesworld is for a little bit older ones. They have it all—fun and competitive games, great graphics, and it is awesome motivation for the kids. You can play the games on a Smartboard or on a screen in class and have them “buzz in” (raise their hand, jump up and down, ring a bell), when they know the answer.

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  1. MES games

Alright, at first glance this site is boring as hell. And I’ll be honest, it doesn’t get the kids AS psyched as the other one, but I still think it holds its own. I can use this site with the older kids as well because it has more difficult games and a much more extensive vocabulary. You can also find resources like flashcards and worksheets, though I can’t speak much about them because I use the site primarily for the games.

 

  1. Learn English Kids and Learn English Teens

Before coming to Spain I was enamored with the British accent and way of speaking. And then I had to teach English in Spain. All of the sudden I was being told that my grammar, vocabulary, and accent were wrong, and I should be teaching in “a way the students will understand.” So naturally, “lo he cogido mania”. Basically, now it gets on my nerves. DESPITE this, the British Council is a FANTASTIC resource for ESL teaching and America should really get on it, especially if our president is so hung up on everyone “speaking American”. From games, to listenings, to reading comprehensions, to short news videos for teens, these websites are great resources for students from kids to adults, and will take a big load off your shoulders.

 

  1. Lyrics Training

Alright guys, I hate to sound like I’m exaggerating here but the next two resources are the crown jewel of them all. I was introduced to this website by a friend of mine and fellow ESL teacher just this year. This website takes “fill in the blank” songs to a whole new level. You can choose the song and the difficulty level and take it from there. The song plays and the students have to continue the lyrics that they have just heard, getting points for the faster and more accurately they do it. I always do it as a whole class and they are literally so. Tuned. In. I work in a Catholic school so this is always a no-brainer for me but do make sure you watch the music videos before putting them on in class, or don’t show them at all. Seriously, you never know what will show up.

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  1. Go Noodle

This is the website my students ask for most often. They looooove it. I personally only use it with the first, second, and third graders, but I’m sure older ones would love it too. It is not an ESL website, but rather more geared towards teachers and students in the US, (or the UK or Australia, not hatin, its just originally a US website). If you have to teach PE or have an indoor recess, this website is amazzzzzing for that. In my classes I use it mostly for “brain breaks” when they’ve been working hard or I’ll do a meditation video if they need to calm down. I have also used a song or two and created a worksheet for them to fill in—like with this song, “Milkshake”. Each class also has a character and the more videos you watch/do, the more it grows. They love it!!

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That is my list, guys! Keep in mind there are SO many pages and resources out there, it is just a matter of finding the ones that work best with your teaching style and classroom dynamic, but hopefully you found one or two of these useful.

 

Are you an ESL teacher? What are your favorite websites and resources? Comment below!

4 thoughts on “My favorite lifesaving websites for teaching English

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