All teachers enjoy reading and gaining access to more resources for lesson ideas or developing material for classes and I thought I would share the ten websites that I like to refer to when I am seeking for lesson ideas or material to use in possible lessons. These ten websites below are my favourite websites that I like to refer to when preparing lessons, reading up on methodology or creating material. So without any further delay, these are my ten must visit ELT-related websites.
1. British Council Teaching English
For me the British Council Teaching English website is such a wonderful resource with many videos and blog posts that you can find a lot of information about teaching in particular contexts. I do enjoy the regular updates that this website offer for those in English Language Teaching (ELT) from lesson plans and materials to interesting blog postings about language learning. I use this website a lot with their videos for in-house Teaching Training sessions, particularly related to young learners. This website is now also offering webinars which you could register and watch either live or at a later date. To add to the already abundant resources which you could gain, there are also the annual seminars which you could attend at the British Council or watch streamed via the internet.
2. ISL Collective
There are not many free websites around for lesson material but ISL Collective really is a gem and would highly recommend teachers to consider using this website to seek for lesson ideas or materials. You can search for material based upon grammar focus, skill, level of student or age. Naturally, you have to consider the appropriacy of materials and edit them where necessary but the best thing about this website is that you can download the material in Word format and edit them where you see fit. If you visit other EFL-related websites, much of their material is in PDF format and non-editable. And unless you enjoy the unhappy task of recreating the worksheets, you will not be able to edit the texts.
One of the first websites that I was introduced via Twitter was actually ELTChat. The aim of the website is to create a “freely available social network for ELT professionals” in order to assist CPD. ELTChat host weekly chats on Twitter on a range of topics ranging from blended learning to dealing with mixed ability classes. Their chats on Twitter are usually every Wednesday in the afternoon at 12pm or evening 9pm (GMT) and the chat is followed through the use of a hashtag (actually #ELTChat). Despite the chats remaining on Twitter, the transcript is then downloaded, analysed by us bloggers and then written about. It is a wonderful resource and you can find various blog posts about the discussions on all the various topics that ELTChat has incorporated in their weekly chats. Summaries of discussions can be seen here.
4. Designer Lessons
If you are quite keen to incorporate Dogme into your lessons but don’t know where to start, worry not as there is a wonderful website which offers teachers a wonderful selection of Dogme-esque teaching ideas which you could incorporate into your lessons. Designer Lessons is a wonderful resource full of teaching ideas for those teachers which are keen to experiment with Dogme ELT and I would highly recommend teachers to consider using this resource to develop their repertoire of lessons and ideas for developing lessons for a range of levels. As well as Dogme style lessons, there is also a range of lessons catered for exam preparation lessons as well as more traditional lessons organised into levels.
If you have seen other teachers create words clouds (essentially text generated in an easy to read and quite artistic manner) but do not know how to create such works of vocabulary art, then I would recommend Wordle. I usually use Wordle on a weekly basis to create word clouds and I usually create key vocabulary or a review of vocabulary from the previous day this style of word cloud. It is incredibly easy to create and it generates student interest straight away, as it is usually different to the standard “Do you know this word?” or “Let me explain this word that I have just written up on the board!”. You can create an interesting and engaging introduction to key vocabulary by printing out the word cloud and doing the following:
- Students look up words in a dictionary and then write out the definition in their notebook.
- Students try to create groups of lexis – usually quite useful if you have a range of vocabulary with different groups (i.e. jobs, verbs, etc).
- Look for the words in the text (if it is a reading).
- Guess the topic or story.
6. One Stop English
You are searching on the internet for a lesson related to Thanks Giving but most lessons which you have found seem rather boring as well as a bit teacher centred. Worry not, as One Stop English is offering a variety of engaging and motivating activities to suit a range of levels as well as ages. If you want to develop the students’ awareness of American culture, then there are a range of engaging activities to achieve this ranging from webquests to listening. Yes you have to pay for becoming a member of this website but the range of lessons offered really will benefit teachers and there are numerous activities and blog posts which support newly certified teachers. I do pay for membership of this website and would continue to do so in the future as the activities involved with listening lessons are wonderful and it is such a relief to steer away from the coursebook from time to time. Finally, this website is a great resource for those young learner teachers who are keen to develop their CLIL-related material as there are lessons and activities for teachers to incorporate in class.
7. BBC Learning English
This was one of the first websites which I started using and referring to back in 2005 in my first year of teaching in order to gain an understanding with teaching. I remember being asked why I used this website in my CELTA interview and how I use it. I essentially mentioned that the BBC Learning English was a wonderful website and I prepared lessons using some of the ideas posted on the website, which was mainly geared for self study language learners. However, I do enjoy browsing the activities and lessons for students as well as incorporating some of these ideas in the classroom. There is a wonderful podcast which is updated on a regular basis which offers a grammar focus for students. I usually enjoy preparing lessons involving the listening from the podcast to supplement a grammar point and some of the practice activities are great. I really enjoy browsing this website and looking at some of the lesson ideas which are recommended. Although this website is aimed for self-study, it is a free resource and with a little bit of work, the lessons developed could be adapted for a range of classes.
8. Cambridge English Online
If you are looking for a website to develop flashcards related to the phonological chart or phonemes, then Cambridge English Online is an invaluable website. You can create your own flashcards using their stock of images or uploading your own images, inserting phonetics for words. It is a great website and I have used the applications on their website with my young learner and adult lessons. There are other applications which focus on idiomatic language or the phonemic chart and you could use these within a classroom should you have an IWB or projector and computer in your classroom. You could get students to create their own flashcards and print these out and then laminate them for possible flashcard games. For more ideas for games involving flashcards, read my previous post here.
9. Lesson Stream
A few years ago I was looking for lesson ideas related to images and fortunately I came across a wonderful website which contained loads of suggested lessons. I remember that I prepared a lesson related to the Mr Men series with the help from Lesson Stream. Jamie Keddie has a lot of suggested lessons graded by level which teachers could incorporate in their lessons. There are teacher notes and material all available on Jamie’s website and much of the material could be incorporated into adolescent classrooms with the correct amount of adjustment. It is a wonderful resource and would supplement any coursebook. Furthermore, this great website is free of charge for any teacher and all material can be downloaded for use with potential classes. Personally, I used lesson ideas with both adolescent and adult learners and is a refreshing change to the coursebook.
10. An A-Z of ELT
The final website which I would recommend any professional English language teacher to view is Scott Thornbury’s A-Z of ELT blog. It is a wonderful website stocked full of rich and engaging content in relation to the theory of language learning, acquisition and teaching. It supplements the ELT dictionary, published in 2006, which is also called “An A-Z of ELT” and is a must read itself. Nevertheless, there is a lot of content which is not included in the original edition of the book published on this blog. Unfortunately, it is now no longer a live website but Scott has kindly allowed access for readers to view – “Thanks Scott!” – and if you are curious about the methodology of language teaching, learning and acquisition then this blog will assist you delve dipper into the profession and become more knowledgeable. It has always been a useful ‘go to’ website, especially when studying a post-graduate or diploma in ELT as it has been invaluable for teachers looking at developing professionally.
So these are my ten favourite and must visit websites which I would recommend other teachers to visit. I hope this helps you develop as a teacher and also support you when creating engaging and motivating lessons for your students. Anyhow, what are your favourite ELT related websites? What websites would you recommend that I visit?