Useful ESOL websites

13 Jun 2012

Useful ESOLand ESOL literacy websites

If the information on any site is inaccurate, please let Fergus Dolan in NALA know. Email:

Note: Here the term ‘ESOL practitioners’ covers those coordinating, designing, training or teaching on ESOL programmes. The term ‘ESOL’ also covers ESL, EFL etc. We didn’t go into detail on levels, as they seem to be different in a lot of countries.


Activities for ESL students

About the site: Students can use it without teacher supervision and monitor their progress. It focuses on grammar, vocabulary, quizzes and proverbs. It has several levels and students can access tests in a number of languages.

Who is it for? ESOL students


Auto English

About the site: Bob Wilson presents some short video lessons on some topics and on basic grammar subjects - countable/uncountable, comparatives and so on. There are worksheets available as reinforcement for students. 

Who is it for? ESOL practitioners and students


BBC Learning English

About this site: This is an excellent self-study site with audio, video, lesson plans and worksheets. It’s particularly good for pronunciation, idiomatic English and day-to-day English for the workplace. It has up-to-date news and sports stories with reports from around the world on a broad range of subjects. Tasks reinforce good learning strategies for listening with good pre-task exercises.

Who is it for? ESOL students and practitioners


BBC Skillswise

About the site: This site covers reading, writing, listening, speaking, spelling and grammar. There are lots of useful one minute videos on reading, writing and spelling tips as well as worksheets and guides etc.

Who is it for? Adult literacy and numeracy students as well as ESOL practitioners and students


Breaking News English

About the site: There are reading exercises and breaking news stories on a large range of subjects and themes, with good pre and post reading exercises. The site also offers spelling exercises and tips, definitions and a dictionary etc.

Who is it for? ESOL practitioners and students


British Council – Teaching English

About the site: This is a huge resource which is full of worksheets, lesson plans, resources and tips for all aspects of ESOL. There is an automatic gap-fill exercise generator which is easy to create and print off. There are a large range of articles on listening, speaking, reading, writing, pronunciation,vocabulary, games and teaching resources. On the ‘Learn English’ section of the site there’s a lot of video content with ‘real world English’ and plenty of listening activities and exercises. There is also a mini soap opera ‘Big City, Small World’ which gives learners a good audio experience of everyday English conversations (UK) and scripts that can be printed off too.

Who is it for? ESOL practitioners and students


CAELA - Center for Adult English Language Acquisition (USA)

About the site: Access to information, ESOL research, trends, promising practices and resources. There is a newsletter which you can sign up for and users can submit questions about teaching adult ESOL.  

Who is it for? ESOL practitioners


Cambridge ESOL

About the site: Students can go into the student zone, test their grammar and see the corrections. A lot of the focus on this site is on Cambridge exams.

Who is it for? ESOL practitioners and students


Centre for Canadian Language Benchmarks

About the site: It has excellent resources and links for curriculum and assessment for ESOL and ESOL literacy programmes in Canada as well as ESOL research and publications. There are sections geared to newcomers to Canada, people thinking of moving to Canada and people who need help with ESOL.

Who is it for? ESOL practitioners and students


ELL-U (National Adult English Language Learning Professional Development Network)

About the site: This site is an online portal for Adult ESOL teachers. It provides practitioners with access to online professional development and learning opportunitiesStudy circles on subjects such as working with low-literacy adults and supporting ESOL learner persistence are also available.

Who is it for? ESOL practitioners


Englisch Hilfen: Learning English Online

About the site: Online exercises with plenty of grammar explanations and exercises. You can choose the English or German language version of this site.

Who is it for? ESOL practitioners and students


ESL Literacy Network

About the site:Comprehensive website of resources from Alberta, Canada.  This site has excellent resources and toolboxes for those working with migrant learners and is strong on ESOL literacy. One publication of interest from Val Miller describes a Reading Circle she conducted with ESL Literacy faculty.

Who is it for? ESOL practitioners



About the site: Free downloadable pdf exercises. Grammar and vocabulary worksheets arranged by category.

Who is it for? ESOL practitioners and students


EU Speak


About the site: The EU-Speak project is a partnership of universities and learning establishments across the EU who run workshops to share best practice in second language teaching and professional training of tutors and learners. The project is funded by Grundtvig Lifelong Learning.

Who is it for? ESOL practitioners


Island Voices - Guthan nan Eilean

About the site: Islands Voices holds over 150 online ESOL listening recordings (including authentic speech interviews) and 75 video clips all CEFR-referenced (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages), with transcripts and listed by theme and language content in 4 online PDF catalogues. The documentary clips give a plain language introduction to a topic or event and are complemented with more challenging authentic speech interviews. The site offers plenty of interesting snapshots of island life.

Who is it for? ESOL practitioners and students


LESLLA (Low Educated Second Language and Literacy Acquisition) for Adults

About the site: LESLLA (Low Educated Second Language and Literacy Acquisition) is an international forum of researchers who share an interest in research on the development of second language skills by adult immigrants with little or no schooling prior to entering a new country. This multi-target language group share best practice and results of studies of effective methods of language acquisition and literacy instruction. See their site to find out how to participate in the discussion groups or attend their annual conference.

Who is it for? ESOL literacy practitioners, researchers, linguists and psychologists


London Online

About the site: This has plenty of excellent virtual activities on it. Shopping at the market is a good one for low levels. Students can operate a lift and put the right change in a shopkeeper’s hand. The themes, such as friends, food and drink and neighbourhood are very topical and there are virtual activities on every theme covered. There are teacher’s notes accompanying each unit.

Who is it for? ESOL practitioners and students


MALP (Mutually Adaptive Learning Paradigm)

About the site: Outlines the MALP, provides access to numerous publications, powerpoint presentations, and a teacher wiki all concerning teaching students with limited or interrupted formal schooling.

Who is it for? ESOL literacy practitioners



About the site: Vocabulary learning site with resource for reinforcing vocabulary learning techniques. Uses mnemonics and reminds learners to frequently review.

Who is it for? ESOL practitioners and students


Minnesota Literacy Council

About the site: Free online training course “Literacy Level ESL Instruction” (as well as many others) appropriate for new teachers and volunteers.

Who is it for? Adult ESL tutors in Minnesota

Additional resources for ESL literacy practitioners and students here:


Multilingual Minnesota

About the site: Click on ‘For Teachers of Low-literate Adult ESL’, then ‘Teacher Resources’.  There’s a compilation of readings for teachers, recommended books, information about balanced literacy instruction etc.

Who is it for? ESOL practitioners


NCSALL (National Center for the Study of Adult Learning and Literacy)

About the site: Publications, research reports, videos and teaching and training materials

Who is it for? ESOL practitioners


One Stop English: ESOL

About the site:This sitecontains a lot of tutor resources and advice.It has a comprehensive selection of resources for all skills and all levels. There is a range of beginner lesson plans and tips for teaching grammar as well as a comprehensive ESOL support section with a piece on how to integrate IT into ESOL classes. Students and practitioners need to register to use, but it’s free.

Who is it for? ESOL practitioners and students


Quick and Dirty Tips (for learning English!)

About the site: Good explanations, a lot of grammar tips and a funny piece on ‘how to speak English like the Irish’.

Who is it for? ESOL practitioners and students


SAFIR English – English and Working Life for Beginners (The Swedish Agency for Flexible Learning)

About the site: Basic English Language course which covers all aspects from listening to grammar, phonetics and the basics including numbers and greetings. Learners can also use this site on their own.

Who is it for? ESOL practitioners and students


Simply Cracking Good Stories

About the site:This site came about from a project from Newcastle University (UK) to create engaging and accessible stories for ESOL students with basic reading skills. They do this through running workshops, training non-writers and publishing high quality, simple stories.

Who is it for? ESOL students and practitioners


Skills workshop

About the site: Plenty of resources for lower levels, especially ESOL students with literacy issues. There are practical task-based worksheets with reading, writing and speaking.

Who is it for? ESOL practitioners and students


TALENT (Training adult literacy, ESOL and numeracy teachers - UK)

About the site: Materials and resources for ESOL, literacy, numeracy and family learning, as well as information on initial tutor training (ITT) in the UK.

Who is it for? ESOL practitioners


Write On (NALA, Ireland)

About the site: Write On is a free online e-learning site that offers learning and accreditation options in reading, writing, numeracy, ICT and personal development. There are hundreds of free resources in the form of videos and downloadable worksheets at to complement the interactive content.

Who is it for? The site is for people who want to improve their basic literacy skills and ESOL learners who want to work on their own or learners who want to combine using Write On with other learning activities or situations such as working with a tutor.


ESOL research discussion list

Email discussion list which is active on ESOL topics. UK interest mainly, but keen to promote discussion of ESOL internationally. Currently there are just over 700 subscribers, and around 10 - 20 messages a week. People can subscribe from the homepage, or can send James Simpson (University of Leeds) an email at: and James will sign you up.