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The Best Sites To Practice Speaking English

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'Speak up, make your voice heard' photo (c) 2011, Howard Lake - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

This was one of the trickiest “The Best…” list for me to compile. As I was going through my favorites, and all of the great suggestions others contributed, I concluded that it might work best to really create two lists. The first list — this one — will highlight sites that actually have students recording their own voices in a number of different ways and post their speaking assignments online. The second list, which I’ll publish later this month and will include a number of the sites that readers suggested, will focus on sites where students have to listen to spoken examples for developing better pronunciation skills.

That next list will be called “The Best Sites For Learning English Pronunciation.”

It’s sort of an artificial division, I know, and obviously in teaching and learning a second language speaking and listening are intertwined. In fact, students can use some of the sites on this list to practice what they hear on the sites in the next list. But I do think this separation works for the purpose of making these lists.

In order to make it on this list, a site had to be free, easy to use, and accessible to English Language Learners.

Here are my picks for The Best Sites To Practice Speaking English & Pronunciation:

Blabberize allows you to upload an image, have the mouth’s image move in a comedic way, and then “speak” your voice. Students can use their own photos, or a famous person, cartoon character, etc. Blabberize can be used in the same way ESL/EFL teachers sometimes have students use puppets — students can feel more comfortable speaking when it’s not really “them” doing the talking.

A Voki is a talking avatar students can design and easily post on a blog or website. Sue Waters has written excellent step-by-step instructions on how to post a Voki.

Voice Thread is well-known. Between the free unlimited account for educators, the ability to type text as well as record audio, the ability to grab images off the Web to reinforce understanding, and the great feature of being able to leave audio comments, I don’t think anything beats it.

I’m adding Voxopop to this list.  Formerly called Chinswing, it lets you easily create private voice “chatboards.”  Students can leave messages and respond to one another, or teachers can leave speaking assignments for students to complete.  It’s similar to Grapevine and to Vaestro Voice Channel.

I’ve posted in the past about how the ability to make easy screencasts — with audio– could be an excellent learning opportunity for English Language Learners (you might want to take a look at that post). The online tool Screencast-O-Matic works okay for this purpose, but seems a little complicated.

Vocaroo is a super easy way for students to record a message — of any length — and then place a link or an embed code on a student or teacher website. It’s got to be one of the most simple ways for audio recording out there — no registration is required and you just click “record.” (NOTE: Unfortunately, Vocaroo has recently announced that messages will be deleted after six months)

The extraordinary The Art of Storytelling is a site from the Delaware Art Museum that allows you pick a painting, write a short story about it, record it with your computer microphone, and email the url address for posting on a student website or blog. It’s extraordinarily simple, and extraordinarily accessible to any level of English Language Learner. No registration is required.

PodOmatic looks like an extraordinarily easy way to create a podcast. Sign-up and your class has your own channel — all you need is a computer microphone.

Chirbit is a new site.  After registering (which is very easy — I love sites that don’t require an email activation), you can very easily make a recording or use a text-to-speech feature to create audio.  You’re then given a unique url address for the recording.  It’s as simple as that. It has other capabilities, too, including responding to the audio message.

For students those without Internet access at home, here’s a tool worth considering:

I recently received my invitation to join Google Voice, Google’s new phone tool. You can read all about it at Lifehacker’s guide. In terms of teaching, I could see it as an easy way for English Language Learners, particularly those with no Internet access, to practice speaking “homework.” They can call my Google Voice number, leave a message, and I can then access both their audio and an automatically generated written transcript of what they said. I can then easily embed both on a classroom blog.

Audio Pal is a new tool that lets you easily record a message — either by using a phone, computer mike, or text-to-speech — and then add the embed code to your blog or website. Students can update it as often as they want, and get as many different ones that they want. It’s pretty neat. No registration is necessary, and it’s free.

A new site is called English Central. David Deubelbeiss has posted a very thorough post about the site titled English Central – Bringing “voice” and output to learning English. I’d strongly encourage you to read it — I don’t feel any need to “reinvent the wheel.” A quick description is that it’s a free video site for English Language Learners, lets users listen to parts of the video, then lets them repeat what the characters says and compares it to the original. You get graded on how well you do. It has even more features, but you can read David’s post or check out the site directly. The other great thing about it is that the videos are all appropriate for the classroom, unlike several other ESL video sites that have come online recently.

Fotobabble is a super-easy application that lets you upload a photo, provide a minute audio recording to go along with it, and then you get a link and an embed code that can be used for . It’s a simple tool students can use to practice their speaking skills. It’s very easy to use but, just in case, Russell Stannard at the great Teacher Training Videos has posted a good video tutorial on how to use the app.

Audioboo lets you easily create what is basically a voice blog. After signing-up (which is quite easy), you can make recordings of up to five minutes in length. Not only can your messages appear together on one public page, but you can also choose to embed them. People can leave text comments on the messages, but one negative is that they are not moderated. However, you do have to be registered on the site in order to leave a comment. (I talk about a great and easy way to use Audioboo in This Seems Like A Pretty Easy Way To Practice Speaking….)

David Deubelbeiss, founder of EFL Classroom 2.0, has an excellent speaking activity he uses with his English Language Learner students. He calls it Pass The Paper, and also a helpful PowerPoint.

A teacher’s guide to using audio and podcasting in the classroom is a nice overview of applications to use in the classroom, including videos. It was created by Kit Hard.

Little Bird Tales lets you easily make slideshows where you can add text and, more importantly for English Language Learners, provide an audio narration. On nice touch is that you can virtually paint/draw artwork in addition to uploading images (unfortunately, the site doesn’t have the ability to grab photos off the web by url addresses). It’s free to use, but I’m unclear on if there will be an eventual cost to use the site. It appears to have an upper limit on the number of shows you can produce.

You can read about SMILE and CLEAR at a previous post.

SoundCloud lets you very easily record an audio message — the first 120 minutes are free — and then you can post the link or embed it where you like. They’ve also just begun a new site called Take Questions, which TechCrunch calls a “Quora for audio.” There, you can set-up your own page to take audio questions that you can then answer — in audio.

Spreaker seems like a pretty easy way to have your own Internet radio show.

Knovio might end up being one of the best Web 2.0 applications of the year. You upload a PowerPoint presentation, record a presentation with your microphone and webcam, and then it’s done! It’s free, and it is not open to the public yet, but I received an invitation about five seconds after I requested it.

Sock Puppets is a simple iPhone app that lets you easily record a student and upload it to YouTube. It can be used to briefly record a student speaking or reading in class, or even to have two or three students record a simple play (the free app allows thirty seconds of recording while for 99 cents you can upgrade to 90 seconds). One major advantage of using this for speaking practice is that it’s the sock puppet that’s actually speaking on the display, not the student. It looks like it could have potential. Thanks to techchef4u for the tip. NOTE: The upgraded version appears to be a bit buggy, so I’m only using the free app.

We’re also going to be trying out another iPhone app called Talking Wee Mee. It just allows one character, though it appears to provide a one minute recording time.

Lisa Johnson also suggested Photo Puppet Go. It’s a little more complicated than the other two I’ve mentioned, but it does have potential.

QWiPS easily lets you make a thirty second audio recording that you can — you can also connect it to a photo or video.

I’m beginning to take photos (and have students take photos) using iPhone apps that let you provide an accompanying audio commentary.

The best app for this kind of excellent speaking practice exercise is Fotobabble. I described the web version earlier in this post. In the iPhone app, you take a photo, provide an up-to-one minute commentary, and then can it several ways. You can email it to yourself, too, where you are provided a link to it on the Fotobabble site. You’re given the opportunity to re-record if you don’t like how it sounds on the first try, and you can make other changes to it, too. It also provides the option to embed, as I have done with this quick experiment.

 

https://www.nypl.org/blog/2012/11/28/11-great-free-websites-practice-english

 

At The New York Public Library’s Adult Learning Centers, where adults work on basic English and literacy skills, we’re often asked for recommendations of websites for adults to practice English at home. Below you’ll find eleven sites, some with a focus on listening, some on vocabulary, others on grammar, and some with a range of activities. Happy learning!

Easy World of English
easyworldofenglish.com
An attractive, user-friendly website including grammar, pronunciation, reading and listening practice and an interactive picture dictionary.

Many Things
manythings.org
This website includes matching quizzes, word games, word puzzles, proverbs, slang expressions, anagrams, a random-sentence generator and other computer-assisted language learning activities. The site also includes a special page on pronunciation, including practice with minimal pairs. Not the fanciest or most beautiful website, but with lots to see and use and no advertising.

Dave’s ESL Cafe
eslcafe.com
A forum for both ESL teachers and students around the world. Includes quizzes, grammar explanations, and discussion forums for students. For teachers, includes classroom ideas on all subjects as well as discussion forums.

The California Distance Learning Project
cdlponline.org
Read and listen to a news stories on topics including working, housing, money and health, then work on activities based on the stories including matching pairs, vocabulary, and quiz questions. Some stories also include videos.

BBC Learning English
bbc.co.uk/worldservice/learningenglish
An array of wonderful activities for practice, some relating to current events. Includes videos, quizzes, vocabulary practice, idioms, crosswords, and much more, though all with British accents.

Activities for ESL Students
a4esl.org
Grammar and vocabulary practice for all levels, including many bilingual quizzes for beginners. Also includes a link for teachers, with conversation questions, games, and many other ideas to put to use in the classroom.

ABCYa
abcya.com
This is a website for kids, but who says adults can’t use it, too? The site includes educational games organized by grade level, from 1st to 5th, and is particularly good for spelling and phonics. There are games to practice vowels, uppercase and lowercase letters, Dolch sight words, synonyms and antonyms and more.

TV 411
tv411.org
This site includes videos with native speakers explaining key reading concepts like critical reading, summarizing and scanning, and key life skills like signing a lease and reading a medicine label. Following each video is a comprehension quiz. Click on the blue tabs across the top lead for lessons on reading, writing, vocabulary and finance.

GCF Learn Free
gcflearnfree.org/everydaylife
A well-designed site with interactive tutorials for everything from operating an ATM machine to reading food labels. If you click on the main page icon and then click on reading, the site has resources for English language learners as well, including stories to listen to and read along, and picture dictionaries.

Language Guide
languageguide.org/english
This is an online picture dictionary, with everything from the alphabet to parts of the body to farm animals.

Oxford University Press
elt.oup.com/learning_resources
This site from Oxford University Press has activities to practice spelling, grammar, pronunciation, and listening. A bit difficult to navigate, so more suitable for advanced learners and savvy internet users.

Also, remember that Mango Languages is available to you through the Library! It features ESL lessons for Arabic, Cantonese, Mandarin, French, German, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Brazilian Portuguese, Polish, Russian, Spanish, Turkish, and Vietnamese speakers. (First time users must create a profile in order to access Mango Languages.)

 

 

how to write formal e-mails

QUIZ GAME ABOUT LAW AND ORDER:

http://www.vocabulary.co.il/word-play/vocabulary-quiz/

PUNCTUATION

PUNCTUATION

PUNCTUATION

WRITING E-MAILS

E-MAIL WRITING

exercises on HOW TO WRITE E-MAILS

examples of e-mails

https://elt.oup.com/student/businessoneone/int/a_emailpractice/b11_int_email01?cc=global&selLanguage=en

‘ LYRICS

LESSON PLAN

RealLife Radio

HOW TO WRITE E-MAILS

CONVERSATION ACTIVITIES

CONVERSATION IDEAS AND ACTIVITIES

http://www.englisch-hilfen.de/en/exercises_list/alle_grammar.htm

http://busyteacher.org/classroom_activities-listening/songs_and_lyrics/page/2/

https://ricardobarroselt.wordpress.com/category/lessons/page/6/

http://playphrase.me/en/search?q=This%20is%20ridiculous

https://freeenglishlessonplans.com/

MUSIC PAGE

games and activities – all levels

http://www.teclasap.com.br/blog/#axzz1p5wyQSlA   –  DICAS  DE  INGLÊS

https://www.google.com.br/search?hl=pt-BR&q=moviesegmentstoassessgrammargoals&meta=  MOVIE LESSONS

http://www.isabelperez.com/grammar.htm

http://lingual.net/game/listening-master/

LEARN ENGLISH WITH SONGS

IELTS PRACTICE TESTS

http://www.ielts-exam.net/academic_writing_samples_task_1/716/

ESL GAMES

MOVIE ACTIVITIES

song activities

SONG ACTIVITIES FOR KIDS

SONG ACTIVITIES TOPIC LIST

SONG ACTIVITIES AND WORKSHEETS – COOL!

PRESENT PERFECT SONGS

resources for teachers

song activities long list

esl games varied: grammar and voc items

 

a site to practice your language with people abroad

 

GOOD IDEAS FOR TEACHERS

 

ACTIVITIES ABOUT : FRIENDS

printable grammar activities

http://iris.peabody.vanderbilt.edu/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/imo002.pdf

http://lessonsonmovies.com/

CONVERSATION GAMES AND ACTIVITIES

SONG ACTIVITY SHOULD I STAY OR SHOULD I GO?

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