The Framework is an open-source online tool, a 360° View of Communicative Competence at Work. Designed by the Ontario Government the framework is a resource for foreign trained professionals to provide strategies, approaches, and areas for language development that support intercultural workplace communication. The tool does not come with a teacher’s guide or classroom activities, but it can serve as a starting point for classroom conversations and independent study. The tool also includes a video and downloadable pdf.
One of the videos in this collection is specifically designed to introduce newcomers to Canada’s tax system — “New to Canada? Learn about Taxes.” The remaining videos look at more mainstream topics such as how to file tax returns, tax issues in common-law relationships, the underground economy and taxes for separated or divorced persons.
Edmodo is an educational platform and global network that permits teachers to share content, distribute assignments and assessments, as well as manage communication with learners and others, and connect with other educators globally. Edmodo is integrated with Google Apps for Education and Microsoft OneNote and Office. Instructors can form groups, assign homework, schedule quizzes and manage learner progress with the platform.
This website is designed for beginning and intermediate learners (not CLB aligned), with a wide variety of activities for language practice, including podcasts, grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation. The podcasts link to different sites, including Archie comics.
ESL Library is a commercial website based in Winnipeg, offering high-quality lesson plans for Canadian, American and international educators. The lessons are divided into beginner, intermediate and advanced learners, with a large variety of activities, including flashcards, discussion starters on political, social and environmental issues, mini-debates, holidays, grammar, writing, podcasts and a reading series (which includes detective serials). Themes include English at work, the environment, healthcare, everyday English and idioms. New lessons are added monthly. Sample lessons are available but are watermarked.
Subscription is required. Lessons are downloadable PDFs (copyrighted).
Available in 3-month, 6-month and 12-month memberships, from $25 to $55.
Groups of teachers can share memberships; for example 1–5 teachers can share the 1-year $55 membership.
This website is written by a British academic and author of books on teaching English using film. The website contains a large library of short films, cartoons and TV ads. The lessons can be browsed according to theme and language level. Topics cover issues such as bullying, love, the gold mining industry, and compassion, to name just a few. Lesson plans are interesting, clear and well presented. The levels are aligned with CFER (Common European Framework of Reference); A1=’beginner’ ; A2=CLB4, B1= CLB 5, B2 = CLB 6-7, C1=CLB 8-9.
CBC provides weekly newscasts and monthly stories at CLB 4+. Learners can practice with intuitive online tools which give instant feedback. Every week, new video and audio content will be available.
Below is a sampling of recommended websites with a focus on building listening skills.
CBC Podcasts are available from a variety of CBC radio programs, including documentaries, current affairs, science and comedy shows. Suitable for higher-level learners, can be used independently or with a class.
Learning Resources is a U.S.-based website aimed at adult literacy learners and instructors, with interactive news stories presented in modules. Each module includes the full text of each story and interactive comprehension activities. Learners can read the text, listen and view a short video clip of the story. Modules can be used for independent study or incorporated into lessons. Stories are not levelled but would be suitable for intermediate and high-level ESL learners.
National Public Radio is an American website that contains news, podcasts, programs and blogs.
NPREd is the education website of National Public Radio that features issues for personal interest and for educators’ professional development.
Randall’s Cyber Listening Lab is a popular resource for classroom use or independent practice, with listening quizzes divided into three skill levels. Each exercise has pre-listening, scored listening and post-listening activities, with videos. There are also academic listening exercises, basic level and Essential Skills.
Sounds of English offers lessons that help learners improve their pronunciation. The website content is clear and accessible and focuses on vowels, consonants, stress and intonation, with activities, sounds and video examples.
A series of videos aimed at newcomers to provide information about the tax system, filing returns, rights and responsibilities, benefits and deductions. Optional subtitles are provided for learners to read as they watch.
Below are links to several English-language online radio stations. Listed first are news and talk radio sites for general audiences.
English Club: https://www.englishclub.com/listening/radio.htm
CBC Radio: http://www.cbc.ca/radio/
BBC World Service: http://bbcworldservice.radio.net/
New York Times: http://nyttalk.radio.net/
Washington Post: http://fromthepageswp.radio.net/
NPR (National Public Radio): http://npr.radio.net/
VOA (Voice of America): http://voalatestnewscast.radio.net/
Online stations for English learners:
BBC Learning English is specifically for ESL learners, and provides several subsections: English for University, English for Work, 6 Minute English, The English We Speak, Drama, Pronunciation, Words in the News and News Report:
VOA: has stories written in three levels, English in a minute videos, and short video lessons on pragmatics: http://learningenglish.voanews.com/
Instructor-recommended websites that focus on building reading skills:
$ AceReader: Designed for mainstream learners but is also successfully used by English-language learners. More than 1,000 reading comprehension tests that are themed and levelled. Each time a test is taken, learners’ speed and comprehension scores are logged. Learners can monitor their own progress, and instructors can track their results. https://www.acereader.com/education
Breaking News English (British): The lessons are based on world current events, produced twice weekly, with levels ranging from 0–7. The 0 level corresponds to CEFR2 (the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages, high basic level). The lessons include a downloadable PDF, a two-page mini lesson and podcasts delivered in British or American accents. The online activities provide a variety of skills practice: reading at different speeds, grammar activities and vocabulary flashcards, gap fill and matching games.
English Zone Reading (American): This site offers basic reading activities with text in three levels: easy, intermediate and advanced. Topics range from animals, to clothing labels, map reading and health problems. Each reading comes with a quiz with a drop-down menu. The website also contains activities for grammar, idioms, verbs and spelling, plus teacher resources. http://www.english-zone.com/reading/
Recommended writing websites focusing on building writing skills:
Storybird: A beautiful writing platform that provides a bank of artwork to use as a prompt for creative writing. For writers of all ages, it can be used with all levels of learners. It provides a creative gateway to introduce lower level and literacy learners to reading and writing, to create their own stories and poetry.
$ Paragraph Punch: This is a mainstream resource that is suitable for intermediate to advanced English learners. There are five levels of instruction to improve paragraph writing. Individual or institution subscriptions. https://www.meritsoftware.com/software/paragraph_punch_online/index.php
TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) posts engaging talks on scientific, academic and cultural issues to its website. Speakers from around the world deliver talks in a lecture-style format. New lectures are posted on a weekly basis. The lectures range from 5 to 18 minutes and longer, and have transcripts and subtitles available in more than 100 languages. Learners can use the talks for independent study. Instructors can use the search feature to find talks on appropriate themes, and build lessons around talks to target specific language skills and academic skills, such as note taking.
TEDEd: Instructors can open an account and develop their own lesson plans or access lessons developed by other teachers.
TESL Ontario’s You Tube channel allows users to catch up on webinars, watch videos and learn about new ideas for classroom activities. You can also share videos that have been helpful in your classroom.
TV411 is an American online learning resource for adult literacy learners, but the resources are also relevant for ESL learners (low intermediate and above). There are videos, downloadable worksheets and interactive lessons to build reading, writing, vocabulary and finance skills, as well as math and science. Reading lessons focus on practice in summarizing, restating, reading charts and graphs. Writing lessons include creative and personal writing, workplace and business writing. Grammar, vocabulary and personal finance lessons are also available.
YouTube is an online video sharing service. Content includes video clips, TV shows, music videos, movie scenes, documentaries and video blogs. Users may also upload their own videos.
Recommended ESL channels:
ISSofBC (Canadian): https://www.youtube.com/user/lSSofBC
BBC Learning English: https://www.youtube.com/user/bbclearningenglish
Real English: https://www.youtube.com/user/realenglish1