10 Essential Online Tools: What You Should Have in Your Back Pocket
As teachers, we are always looking for new and interesting ways to present information to our classes and give them practice with linguistic concepts. Sometimes, though, we are not sure where to turn for activities that will challenge and entertain our students.
The answer is clear. Arm yourself for successful teaching with these online tools for use in the classroom and outside it!
Essential Online Tools Every Teacher Should Know
Word Search Creator
Busy Teacher offers more than just great articles and creative teaching ideas. You can also find some of the most useful online tools at your favorite ESL website. One of these tools is the word search tool. Word searches can be a great way to review vocabulary with your students. Simply provide a list of words you want the puzzle to include and you can have an original word search puzzle in seconds!
In addition to word searches, crossword puzzles are another effective vocabulary tool. You can easily provide your students with definitions of vocabulary words and challenge them to come up with the answers. Simply type in your answers and clues and this site will convert them into an original and custom crossword puzzle to use with your ESL class.
Double Puzzle Creator
Would you like to take the challenge a step further? Busy Teacher also gives you the opportunity to create an original double puzzle . These puzzles use answers which are in turn used to find the answer to a larger question. This type of puzzle offers a change of pace to your students who may have had their fill of crosswords.
Tile Puzzle Creator
A tile puzzle is another resource you may want to keep in your back pocket for those rainy days when you are looking for variety in your classroom activities. With this activity, you type in a phrase which is broken into two-, three-, or four-letter tiles. Your students’ challenge is to rearrange the order of the tiles to determine the original phrase. This activity can be used with quotations from reading selections or famous speakers. Your students will have to use logic and their understanding of English spelling to determine the correct phrase.
DIctionary of Spoken Words
Is it possible to repeat a new word as often as your students might like to hear it? If you are getting tired of saying the same words repeatedly, direct your students to this on line dictionary of spoken words in English. Though the accent may be slightly computerized, this tool is still useful for students and even teachers who want an objective source for English pronunciation.
The goal of ESL classes is, of course, to teach your students English, but there are times when it helps to speak your student’s native languages. If you are not a speaker of ten languages or more, you may find an online translator to be a useful tool. There are several different sites where you can translate from one language to another (google translator or babel fish, for example). Though you should not expect a perfect translation from these or any other online translators, they may give you enough information to communicate with parents or beginning level learners.
Online Plagiarism Detector
We all want to think the best of our students, but while we are thinking the best it is good to be cautious as well. With this online plagiarism detector, you can cut and paste your student’s writing to check for copied material. Though the search will not be exhaustive, you should still get a good feel for whether your student wrote the material on his own or used a little more help than he should have.
Report cards come around all too often, it sometimes seems. When you are looking for a way to express yourself clearly on these student evaluations, look to this site which helps you compose exactly what you want to say about your student’s language skills.
Grammar & Spelling Checker
Finally, as a teacher you should be sure to keep your own materials free of mistakes and problems. To that end, this free online grammar and spelling checker is a good second set of eyes for the materials you publish for your students. Staying at the top of your game is essential when you are teaching English to nonnative speakers. By using every resource that you can, you make sure that you are setting a good example and teaching the correct things to your students!
Susan likes to enjoy every day to its fullest whether she is freelance writing, teaching homeschoolers, or developing her special talent of instigation. When she is not imagining sand castles or catching others off balance, she cooks, sings, reads and takes walks in the sunshine. She earned an M.A. from the University of Delaware in Linguistics and an M.A. from Trinity School for Ministry in Youth Ministry. She currently lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with her wonderful husband and her three cheepy cockatiels.
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Great list of resources! Two more that I would recommend are:
SpellCheckPlus http://spellcheckplus.com/ A spelling and grammar checker aimed at ESL/EFL learners. Instead of just checking spelling and grammar, it explains why what they wrote is wrong.
British National Corpus at Brigham Young University http://corpus.byu.edu/bnc/ A free site that allows you to examine how words and grammar are actually used in English. The site contains searchable databases with sentence extracts from thousands of real-world texts, including newspapers, novels and non-fiction books.
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