Best English Language Learners Lessons and Activities

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According to the National Education Association, a majority (55%) of U.S. teachers have at least one English language learner in their classroom. The NEA further predicts that by 2025, 25% of all children in U.S. classrooms will be ELLs. 

These statistics highlight the need for widespread availability of high-quality ELL teaching materials. The following top lessons, activities, and curriculum are designed to support English language learners and educators as they strive toward English proficiency.

  • American English Webinars  
    From the U.S. Department of State comes this diverse collection of webinars and accompanying documents covering topics such as using audiobooks for teaching, the color vowel chart, games, STEM activities, teaching with jazz chants, and dozens more. Free.
  • Dave’s ESL Cafe
    Free grammar lessons, idioms, lesson plans, phrasal verbs, slang, and quizzes comprise the ELL teaching resources from longtime international educator Dave Sperling.
  • Duolingo for Schools  
    One of the best known and most popular language learning tools, Duolingo for Schools is completely free for teachers and students. Teachers sign up, create a classroom, and start teaching language. Kids love the personalized lessons, which turn language learning into a fast-paced game.
  • ESL Games Plus Lab
    Extensive collection of ELL games, quizzes, videos, printable worksheets, and PowerPoint slides. Search by topics to find the specific teaching resource you need. In addition to ELL games, you’ll also find math and science games for K-5 students. Free accounts offer full access with (blockable) ads.
  • ESL Video  
    A well-organized resource offering ELL learning videos according to level, quizzes, and activities that can be copied into Google Slides. Super guidance for teachers in this top-notch site. Bonus: Teachers can create their own multiple choice and fill-in-the-blank quizzes.
  • ETS TOEFL: Free Test Preparation Materials  
    Perfect for advanced students aiming for English fluency, these free materials include an interactive six-week course, full TOEFL internet-based practice test, and practice sets in reading, listening, speaking, and writing.
  • Eva Easton’s American English Pronunciation  
    A comprehensive, in-depth resource devoted to the understanding and practice of American English pronunciation. The interactive audio/video lessons and quizzes focus on specific aspects of American English speech, such as reduction, linking, and word endings. A remarkable and free website from expert English speech educator Eva Easton.
  • Interesting Things for ESL Students  
    On this free website, students are invited to start with easy English vocabulary games and quizzes, then explore the variety of other offerings, such as anagrams, proverbs, and common American slang expressions. Be sure to check out the InterestingThingsESL YouTube channel for listen-and-read-along videos of every type, from popular songs to sports and history lessons to a myriad of sentence types.
  • Lexia Learning  
    A research-supported and WIDA-correlated full curriculum for English language learners, offering scaffolded support in Spanish, Portuguese, Mandarin, Haitian-Creole, Vietnamese, and Arabic.
  • ListenAndReadAlong
    A great way for older ELL students to learn English by watching news videos from Voice of America. The narrated videos feature highlighted text to help kids understand both vocabulary and pronunciation. Free.
  • Merriam-Webster Learner’s Dictionary
    Students can easily discover word pronunciation and meanings, as well as test their vocabulary with multiple- choice quizzes, all for free.
  • Randall’s ESL Cyber Listening Lab
    ESL Cyber Listening Lab is well designed, easy to navigate, and chock-full of useful ELL activities, games, quizzes, videos, and classroom handouts. A free, standout effort from longtime educator Randall Davis.
  • Real English
    As its name suggests, Real English features videos of ordinary people, not actors, speaking everyday English naturally. The site was developed by English language educators who wanted to provide their students with a more realistic—and therefore, more effective—listening experience. In addition to the interactive lessons, the practical insights for teachers makes this a great free resource.
  • Sounds of English Lessons and Activities  
    Veteran ELL educators Sharon Widmayer and Holly Gray provide free creative and fun printable lessons to teach pronunciation, vowels and consonants, syllables and more.
  • USA Learns
    USA English is a free website offering English language courses and video lessons for speaking, listening, vocabulary, pronunciation, reading, writing, and grammar. Guidance for teachers includes instructions on using the site and an overview of the resources. Although aimed at teaching English and U.S. citizenship to adults, students under 18 are welcome to register and use the site’s resources.
  • Voice of America
    Learn English from the Voice of America, which offers free beginning, intermediate, and advanced video lessons, as well as lessons in U.S. history and government. Check out the Learning English Broadcast, a daily current events audio broadcast using slower narration and careful word choices for English language learners.

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Diana Restifo

Diana has been Tech & Learning's web editor and contributor since 2010, dedicated to ferreting out the best free tech tools for teachers.