10 Online Resources to Improve EL Literacy

Many elementary school ESL teachers are now looking at materials for their 2016–2107 classroom. During a recent #ELLCHAT   discussion, we shared ideas for choosing materials for ELs. One of the liveliest discussions was about online resources.

I’d like to share some online resources that feature books for children and really work well for ELs. The best books sites for  ELs have an audio component, and the words are highlighted as they are read. If your budget is limited, some of these sites are free.

Fiction Resources

  1. EPIC is a free website for U.S. and Canadian-based elementary teachers. It contains 1,000 books for students in grades pre-K–6 and features an audio component. It is a great resources for ELs.
  2. Tumblebook Library is an online collection of books for elementary-age students. The books are animated with sound and narration. There is a charge for the Tumblebook Library, and subscriptions are generally purchased for a whole school district. The selection and quality of books is outstanding and a great source of books for ELs.
  3. Starfall is a website that is widely used by ESL teachers to help young ELs (pre-K–2) learn to read. I especially like the I’m Reading section of the site. There is a free section that allows membership for a whole class.
  4. Raz-Kids is a great resource for books online for students in grades pre-K–5. This is not a free resource, but it is well worth the moderate cost.
  5. Storyline Online contains a collection of books narrated by well-known actors who are members of the Screen Actors Guild/AFTRA. The books are good for ELs in grades pre-K–4. I recommend that teachers preview the books first to determine the language level. The books are free online, but schools can purchase an activity guide to go with the books. However, there is no feature that underlines the text as it is read.
  6. Unite for Literacy contains books for very young students (pre-K–2). There is an audio component with narration in English and a dozen other languages. This site does not have a feature where words are highlighted as they are read.

I also want to mention another site that is just for teachers. ReadWorks is a site dedicated to helping teachers improve their students’ reading comprehension. It has detailed lesson plans for teaching books to students in grades K–6. Schools would need to buy paper copies of the books to be used in the classroom.

Nonfiction Resources

I would also like to include these online articles that can be adapted for ELs in Grades K–12. These resources do not include an audio component, but are written on different lexile levels.

  1. Newslea takes news articles from around the world and rewrites them at up to five different lexile levels and in Spanish. This is an excellent resource for ELs in Grades 4–12.
  2. TweenTribune from the Smithsonian offers a variety of topics such as animals, art, culture, sports, and science. Articles are written at up to 9 lexile levels for ELs in K–12.
  3. National Geographic online versions of nonfiction readers with an audio component is suitable for young ELs, Grades 1–3 .
  4. Time for Kids contains news articles for elementary-age students (Grades 3–8). The audio news reports are too fast for ELs, but many of the articles are appropriate for more advanced ELs. I especially like the homework helper section that helps students write in different genres.

In my next blog, I will discuss apps for ELs that help build literacy. Stay tuned to hear about Little Bird Tales, Mindsnacks, and Shadow Puppet, among others.

About Judie Haynes

Judie Haynes
Judie Haynes taught elementary ESL for 28 years and is the author and coauthor of eight books for teachers of ELs , the most recent being “Teaching to Strengths: Supporting Students Living with Trauma, Violence and Chronic Stress“ with Debbie Zacarian and Lourdes Alvarez-Ortiz. She was a columnist for the TESOL publication "Essential Teacher" and is also cofounder and comoderator of the Twitter Chat for teachers of English learners #ELLCHAT.
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One Response to 10 Online Resources to Improve EL Literacy

  1. Nageeb says:

    Thank you so much for this blog Ms Judie .
    I am Nageeb from Yemen and I am an English teacher for adult .
    I want to improve my second language . I need to talk with native speakers or English teachers like you . I love my pupils and my job ,but i need to give them the best . i want a help if you can .

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