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Helpful Resources for English Language Learners

March 25th, 2014


Ted Talks are informative, educational and interesting. Even native English speakers listen to and watch Ted Talks to learn something new or watch a person speak about an interesting event from their life. There are several categories on this website through which English Language Learners (ELLs) can choose from based on their interests. Another handy feature of this website is the available English subtitles for each video. The downfall, however, is that subtitles are also available in other languages. But, if you are motivated to learn English, listening/watching a Ted Talk about something you’re interested in is a good way to pick up vocabulary you’ve never heard before and learn English grammar relevant to your life and your interests. This website is especially helpful for intermediate and advanced English speakers.

youtube.com – English with Jennifer

This is the listening practice equivalent for beginners. Jennifer is an English instructor who put together an entire series for teaching English through videos on YouTube. Her lessons cover nearly every aspect of learning English from greetings to idioms to ordering in a restaurant to talking on the phone! She speaks slowly and clearly to ensure student understanding. This resource is fantastic for listening practice and her lessons are engaging and easy to understand!


This website is for writing practice. You must create an account to use this resource and it may cost money. However, this website is a very valuable and effective tool in helping students learn how to write correctly. It also helps students know what their common mistakes are in writing and how to correct them. The website provides prompts and the students are given a time limit (…if they choose to have one. This feature can be turned off.) in which they must write a complete essay with an introduction, body paragraphs and a conclusion. After the time limit finishes, the website analyzes the essay according to format, coherence, grammar, spelling and punctuation mistakes. The student is then given a grade out of six. Then, the student can access the essay which has been marked showing the mistakes and how to fix them. The mistakes are categorized into parts of speech or aspects of grammar to make it easier for the student to sort through and tackle one at a time. This is an effective resource to help students learn how to write well in English.


The news often uses a high level of English and strange sentence structures to convey important, current events to the public. This can be difficult for even native English speakers to understand, at times. With this in mind, breakingnewsenglish.com is a website that displays current events in relatable grammar and vocabulary for English learners to have access to the news. This not only helps keep students informed, but it also builds their confidence in English to be able to later tackle the more difficult news presented on websites such as cnn.com or bbc.com.


Similarly to the evening news, English dictionaries often explain words using even more difficult words. This makes it impossible for English learners to use an English dictionary as a resource to help them learn. Therefore, they revert to translating new words into their own language and reinforcing the connection back to their first language rather than growing in their knowledge of English. However, learnersdictionary.com provides simple explanations of new vocabulary for students along with example sentences to show context. This is a favorable alternative to, say, Google Translate because it reinforces English learning rather than a constant connection to the student’s native language.


Quizlet is a website for building vocabulary. This is an interactive vocabulary website because it allows students to make vocabulary lists and virtual flashcards to aid in memorization. Students can also take quizzes and play timed games on quizlet.com to ensure retention of the new vocabulary. A word of caution: most vocabulary words do not come with a definition but rather with an example sentence from which the student must deduce the meaning. This can be an effective method if the student is motivated and resourceful.