I don’t write about it very much, for obvious ethical reasons, but I am actually an ESL teacher. Lots of us ex-pats are. I wanted to put together a list of free resources I have found extraordinarily helpful. If you know of any that aren’t on the list, please add it in the comments, or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Likewise if anyone’s thinking about packing it all in and going abroad to teach, feel free to drop me a line. I have many thoughts.
First of all, here and here is some great information about learning styles, and general tips on teaching by Brooks Emerson. Learning a Language: How Long Will It Take? Priming the Brain For Learning, Insight Into Learning Turkish.
islcollective.com You have to sign up for this website, but it’s free, and totally worth the minute and a half it takes to pick a user name and type your e-mail address into a dialog box. ISL is full of worksheets, and has saved my butt a bunch of times. It’s particularly useful if you teach kids, but it has stuff for adults and teens too. Of all the teacher resource sites I’ve used, this one is organized the best and is the easiest to use.
breakingnewsenglish.com Didn’t get around to making a lesson plan? I am totally not judging you. These are pretty great. They have solid educational value, there’s a variety of activities to choose from, and if you have a talkative class the packets can suck up the better part of an hour. Sean Banville also has seven (!) other sites with all kinds of information for the ESL teacher.
Dave’s eslcafe.com Like all forums, the one on this website is pretty hit or miss when it comes to information that is actually helpful, but I’ve gotten some good last-minute ideas for activities, and links to worksheets and things. Sometimes it can be unintentionally hilarious- buried somewhere in the activities forum there’s a thread cautioning teachers that hangman should be avoided in the classroom because you never know if a child knows someone who’s been hanged. “I draw a person in jail, instead!” someone suggested. Stare. Blink. Rub eyes. WHAT?! But all in all, helpful.
prefixsuffix.com I believe in teaching word parts and etymology. I find it really helps Turkish learners, since Turkish is a language of endings. Turkish is also one of the most regular languages in the world, and so when they’ve struggled with our ridiculously, endearingly unweildy and idiosynchratic language for a few years, struggling with the bajillion irregulars and exceptions, and with the fact that you can never ever trust a letter of the alphabet to consistently make the same sound, (laugh! knife! read! read!) you tell them that prefixes change the meaning of the word, suffixes tell you what part of speech it is, and then break down an easy word. Tele vis ion. Ion is a noun ending that always means thing, never person or place. Vis is a word root that means to see. Vision. Visit. Vista. Tele is a prefix that means far. Telephone. Telescope. Teleport. And suddenly, the student feels like he has a little more control over the language. Suddenly the language makes a little more sense. Plus it’s kind of fun, like playing with legos. Other useful sites in this vein: Cuestacollege.com, learn that, eslflow.com
eslflow.com has really great resources from all over the web, lots of them in pdf form, but I find it very hard to search for anything specific on the site. This may be because I am too easily flustered by anything computer related, or the interface may be genuinly clunky. I don’t know. But I find that if I google what I want, (topic sentence worksheets, for instance) and tack PDF onto the end of the search term, an eslflow page comes up as an option and then wow! So many useful resources at your fingertips! Here’s one for pronunciation, here’s one for vocabulary.
(still under construction… more coming…)