Learning Resources on the Web: Separating the Wheat from the Chaff

January 23, 2012 at 11:27 AM | Posted in AmeriCorps, Announcements, Class, Development, ESOL, Family Learning, Teaching, Tutoring, Volunteers | Comments Off on Learning Resources on the Web: Separating the Wheat from the Chaff
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The internet contains numerous websites to help people improve their English skills, and new ones seem to pop-up daily.  Unfortunately, many of them are not particularly useful for our learners.  Some of them are geared towards children, others cost money to use, and still others just are not very good.  Separating the wheat from the chaff is time-consuming. There’s an annotated list of some good sites on the tutor resource page of the Literacy Council of Northern Virginia’s website. However, this list could use some updating.  We hope to accomplish it soon.  Meanwhile, here are a few websites which aren’t on the list yet but look good. All of them are free.

  •  http://www.migrant.net/migrant/Finanza/index.htm  provides a toolbox of materials created by the Geneseo Migrant Center to increase migrant workers’ financial knowledge.  The materials, which can be used online or printed out, cover a variety of financial topics, such as opening bank accounts, using credit and debit cards, and buying money orders.  Lesson plans, skills practice, and pre- and post-tests are included for each topic.  The lessons are non-sequential so tutors can pick and choose among them.  All the materials are available in Spanish as well as English.
  • www.queenslibrary.org is the website for New York’s Queens Library.  If you go to the Library Services A-Z tab on the left-hand side of the homepage and select Adult Literacy from the pull-down menu, you’ll get to English for Your Health.  The health literacy program for adults has some online activities for students;  it also contains a downloadable curriculum covering such topics as parts of the body, symptoms, making doctors’ appointments, talking to the doctor, and paying for healthcare.  Lesson plans, articles for students to read, photos, audio files, and student worksheets at both the beginning and intermediate levels are provided.
  • www.theliteracytribune.org, created by United Literacy Inc., provides a bimonthly online newsletter containing articles of interest to adults on subjects such as health, finance, technology, and history.  The articles can be read online or printed out.  They are written in simple English. Learners who read at the high beginning level could get something out of them.
  • www.rachelsenglish.com is a site created to help ESOL students improve their pronunciation.  The site includes videos explaining in detail how to create each sound, other pronunciation videos (e.g., the various ways of pronouncing plural nouns, how to pronounce “Thanksgiving” and “Christmas”), and intonation exercises designed to help with English speech patterns.   The site would be difficult for many of our students to use by themselves since it contains a lot of terminology with which they might be unfamiliar (e.g., diphthongs, voiced sounds).  However, it could prove useful for tutors to use with their learners, provided they have access to computers during their lessons.
  • I also want to put in a plug for a website which already is on the LCNV’s list: www.usalearns.org.  The contents of the site were spearheaded by the US Department of Education and designed by the Sacramento County Department of Education to improve adult ESOL learners’ English skills. The site is an excellent online resource which students can use by themselves if they have very basic computer skills or with their tutors. The first two levels (beginning English skills and low intermediate English skills) are appropriate for students in our ESOL tutoring program and for many learners in our Basic program whose first language is not English. However, the third level (intermediate reading and writing) would also be useful for native English speakers in the Basic program. The third level contains short articles which can be read and listened to, followed by exercises for vocabulary, comprehension, spelling and writing.

Elise Bruml
Director of Tutoring Programs
Literacy Council of Northern Virginia
2855 Annandale Road
Falls Church, VA 22042
(703) 237-0866 x 106


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