Links and Resources ABE and ESL

Welcome! This is a list of links and resources for working with ABE and ESL students. We want YOU to help us add to it!

Rating System - Please use this scale to rate any websites you add.

  • (3/5) Interesting - has great potential
  • (4/5) Promising - I've tried it and I like it
  • (5/5) AMAZING! I love using this with students---definitely check this out

($) indicates a site where some resources require payment.

Please follow the format below for any additions, and thanks for contributing!!
PS The internet changes. If a link has moved, please update. If it is truly dead, please delete.

Learning styles
Acculturation screen, Learning styles screen, and other cross-cultural resources ($)
Free, multilingual learning style screen, which produces recommendations of learning strategies for particular learning styles.
Free, learning styles and other study advice self-assessments for students from
Multiple Intelligences learning styles quiz which also offers study strategy advice


Contextualized lessons
What does a standards-based lesson look like? Grab one and give it a spin!

Made right here at TCC. reading and math curricula
ESL teachers, fear not the numbers. Math teachers, fear not the limited English.
Let's get some chocolate in our peanut butter and teach them both!

Oregon reading initiative

Native language literacy assessments
When working with low-literate students, it may be useful to see how they process their native language. Here are a few tools:
Native Language Literacy Screening Device, available in 27 languages, for identifying literacy issues in first language. Free.

Empire State Learning Needs Screen for Spanish Speaking Adults
A Spanish screening tool to identify possible learning difficulties in adults.

Alphabetics (phonics and phonemic awareness)



  • Fast phrases - based on the Dolch lists of frequent English words, these Powerpoints flash words and phrases just long enough for students to read; available in 2 speeds.
  • Timed readings: these are arranged by level of difficulty, and include comprehension Qs and short writing response activities. A suggested procedure for using the texts is on the lower half of the page.
  • Sources of books and stories

Testing Practice (Reading)

Reading on the internet
(4/5) The Center for Applied Special Technology has a site that helps students develop strategies for more effective reading on the internet.

Here's a strategy for reading on the internet without distractio- download a tool that filters out all the advertising!

Tools for readers with learning difficulties/ UDL
Reading strips to help readers track on a page. ($)

Irlen colored overlays- reduces glare and contrast; can help some dyslexic

Digital version of color overlays and reading guides, zoom, text-to-speech and more in a toolbar- FREE


TCC's writing rubrics. Drafted with the WA Standards, these rubrics may serve by themselves; or feel free to modify them for specific assignments.
  • (5/5) EnglishHouseESL This user on YouTube has provided a series of videos that I like to use as writing prompts. Students must listen 2 times, then retell the story in their own words. I sometimes require them to use the present or past tense, depending on what grammar we are working on. My favorite video is "A Whole New Marty".
  • (5/5) YouTube videosAs a general link, because there are a wealth of other writing prompts out there like Mr. Bean or Father of the Bride. Have students retell the story or invent their own ending.
  • (5/5) Grammar Bytes I haven't personally used this site with students, but a Dev. Ed. coworker has and loves it. It's written for native speakers but has fun, quirky explanations, examples and exercises for grammar and includes punctuation rules. Great writing reference (cross-listed under grammar).
  • (5/5) - Like Microsoft Word's spelling and grammar checker, but also uses context for better correcting. I recommend writers use both tools to help in editing; also plays nice with most email clients. Cross-listed under spelling and grammar.


  • (5/5) Choose a prefabricated list or create your own. From your list, this will generate definitions, games, drills and quizzes. With a premium membership you can track student progress.
  • (4/5) Flashcards for memorizing. You can create a deck to share, or students can create their own bilingual deck. Several languages supported and text-to-speech software included. When you input a word, it can suggest definitions that other users have previously used or you can add a picture. Quizlet creates games for spelling and recall based on your deck. You can print the deck in several formats or download it to your iPhone/iPad.
  • (5/5) - Like Microsoft Word's spelling and grammar checker, but also uses context for better correcting. I recommend writers use both tools to help in editing; also plays nice with most email clients. Cross-listed under writing and grammar.
  • (3/5) phrase in- Interesting. Uses the frequency of results of web searches to provide an indicator of which word combinations are most common.
  • (4/5) has word games that are actually, quite addicting.
  • (3/5) I haven't used it yet, but was recommended on an ESL website for building vocabulary based on word relationships.
  • (3/5) Recommended to me my an ESL teacher for powerpoint template games like Jeopardy or Wheel of Fortune where you or your students supply the vocab/grammar/spelling point for the game.


  • (4.5/5) English Central Voice recognition software paired with subtitled YouTube videos to create authentic English vocabulary acquisition and pronunciation practice. Once your class is registered, set some weekly or monthly goals and track your student's progress. Excellent website, but some of the best features are only available with a paid subscription.
  • (3/5) EnglishwithStacy Stacy Hagen, co-author of the infamous Azar-Hagen Grammar series has her own YouTube channel focused on speaking and pronunciation for intermediate-advanced students.
  • (3/5) Jazz Chants This particular video is for teachers, but there are several suggested videos with more examples of jazz chants that you can do with students. In this one, Carolyn Graham, the originator of jazz chants, explains how to make your own.
  • (3/5) Voice Thread This is not free! Thus I haven't used it with students, but it has great potential as students can make video or just audio comments on a topic. See this example where students teach Portuguese words.
  • (3/5) IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet) from Students who already know IPA can use it to learn more about the sounds of English and how they fit in with the alphabetic symbols that we use in English.
  • (3/5) Worksheets: Contrasts; Minimal Pairs; Near Minimal Pairs From a speech therapist, each worksheet has pictures and words that isolate the particular pronunciation issue. Looks helpful to print and use in class.


Testing Practice (Listening)



  • (4/5) Teacher Paul in Minnesota has prepared a full set of tutorials on grammar points from basic to advanced with each level based on a color. There are pictures, text and Teacher Paul also explains in YouTube videos. He also has chat rooms where students can discuss grammar or just practice chatting.
  • (4/5) engVid Free English grammar lesson videos. For example, check out When to use articles.
  • (3/4) EnglishPage This page is a little advanced for my AESL Level 4 students, but I like to use it as a reference. It's great for comparing verb tenses and their form, meaning and use.


  • (4/5) This website can be confusing to navigate, but has lots of good exercises for a wide variety of grammar points. I strongly suggest linking directly to the exercise or grammar point that you want students to go to.
  • (4/5) Grammar Ninja from has beginning, intermediate and advanced part of speech nija challenges.
  • (4/5) FreeRiceGrammar Others are better, but it's simple to use, though somewhat random as to what kinds of grammar points students are asked about.

Learn and Practice


(5/5) - Like Microsoft Word's spelling and grammar checker, but also uses context for better correcting. I recommend writers use both tools to help in editing; also plays nice with most email clients. Cross-listed under spelling and writing.

Textbooks /proprietary online tools

The Grammar in Use series and Touchstone are textbooks which are implementing corpus research to inform instruction using frequency data and authentic examples of English.

Multi subject resources

GED Essay Prompts

GED Scoring Rubric, instruction and Sample Essays

Computer Skills


  • (5/5) TypingWeb If you need a free typing website to recommend, this is our favorite. You can create a free account to save your progress, but you don't even have to do that to use it. It has great visuals showing what to do with your fingers.


Researching English


  • (5/5) Learner's Dictionary Merriam-Webster's online dictionary provides special information such as whether the word is count or non-count and an audio clip of the word's pronunciation. You can create a free account and keep track of words by adding them to a flashcard set or learn from the list of top 3,000 most frequently used words. See iPad app section below as well.
  • (4/5) Longman's Dictionary Has similar features to Merriam-Websters, but focused more on British English (though it includes comparisons with American English). It has more pictures and examples, but does not have audio pronunciation for all words without a subscription. It does tell you if the word is in the top 1K, 2K or 3K for spoken or written English. Also has more adds than Merriam-Webster's.

Bilingual Dictionaries

  • (3/5) Google Translate 64 languages from all over the world. It can do words or you can copy whole texts, though it becomes dramatically less accurate with higher word counts.
  • (3/5) Simple bilingual dictionary with 26 languages (Vietnamese and european languages)
  • (3/5) Wordreference 15 languages and some verb conjugators

Phrasal Verb Dictionaries

  • (3/5) English Phrasal Verbs Dictionary from lets you look up phrasal verbs by preposition or verb or by browsing. It also has tools for quizzing yourself.

Corpus Linguistics

This exciting research picks up where Fry and Dolch left off. We are getting a better and better picture of how English is actually used, which has some profound and perhaps even revolutionary implications for how we teach vocabulary and grammar. Some of the tools are clunky, but all of them aim to reveal authentic English. The Grammar in Use series and Touchstone are textbooks which are implementing this research to inform instruction.

A dual phrase search engine which students can use to compare which phrase is correct when they are not certain based on the number of hits it generates. Probably best for higher level ESL students.

Corpus of Contemporary American English - You can search for real examples of the use of a word or phrase from both written and spoken American English. Use the KWIC feature to show color-coded parts of speech in the examples.
  • (3/5) LexTutor Not as user-friendly as COCA, but has some great variations on concordancers.

World Englishes

  • (3/5) Sound Comparisons Hear the same word pronounced by speakers of English all over the world

U.S. Culture

  • (5/5) EL Civics has great info for students about U.S. holidays, history and other civics info. It also has printable handouts.

Learning Communities

  • (3/5)Live Mocha Have an internet safety talk with students before using this, but it looks like a very neat tool. Students complete lessons and submit their work to native speakers for review. They can chat with native speakers as well.

Mutiple Skill

  • (5/5) rong-chang Has so many resources that you could use his page instead of this wiki. Reading, Writing, Speaking, Listening, Grammar, Pronunication, Idioms etc.
  • (5/5) a4esl Mostly grammar and vocab. Interactive with audio recordings and some flash/java activities
  • (5/5) manythings Another website that has it all. Reading, Writing, Speaking, Listening, Grammar, Singing etc.
  • (3/5) usalearns Very polished and professional. Also easy to navigate. It's a more comprehensive curriculum, similar to All-Star, but more interactive. Reading, writing, speaking and life skills in a video lesson + comprehension question format.
  • (5/5) I have mostly used them for grammar, but they have more to offer: grammar, phrasal verbs, vocabulary, listening (advanced), reading (advanced)
  • Make your own worksheets quickly w/ these templates at


NEWS FLASH: Dragon Naturally Speaking (light) is FREE for iPad!!!!! If you have students who can speak but not spell, get them using this so they can see what they say.


  • (3/5) Merriam Webster's Learner's Dictionary iPad or iPhone ($5 as of 9/17/12) Has the full text dictionary whether or not you are connected to the internet. If you have wi-fi, then you can also hear audio pronunciation and search with your voice for a word as well as track favorites. Their regular American English dictionary is still avialable for free (as of 9/17/12).

Word Games

  • Word Quest Light - Great for independent study of word searches/spelling. After students find all of the words, if they are connected to the internet, they can look up the meanings.
  • (3/5) Letris 2 Tetris + Scrabble . You can play alone or compete against a friend online or sharing the same tablet.
  • Sentence Maker - for low-level students struggling with word order. This was originally designed for kids with autism, so it has audio and visual cues.
  • Top 80 Classic Books ($2) Hans Christian Anderson, Mark Twain, Dostoyevsky, Dickens etc. for higher level students
  • Overdrive - with a public library card students can download eBooks or Audio Books. It's not the easiest app to use, but it's all free material based on whatever the library has available. A great recommendation for students who want to read/listen independently.
  • SparkleFish - Kind of like MadLibs, but the audio version, so great for parts of speech as well as pronunciation.
  • HowStuffWorks - Reading about anything!
  • English Idioms Illustrated (3/5) Haven't tried it with students but it's a neat comic-book style approach to teaching idioms. You get a package of several free ones and then you can purchase more if you want.
  • Grammar Up Phrasal Verbs Lite - flash-card style tool
  • Skitch - add words to pictures or screen shots and send them to others.
  • TEDi Subtitle - watch and listen to TED talks with English subtitles. Excellent for practicing note-taking skills.
  • AudioMemos - (4/5) I used this to assess student's speaking at the end of the quarter. It could also be used to help them hear their own speaking/pronunciation (5 minute recording limit). I put sticky notes showing the order of buttons to press and students recorded themselves independently while the rest of the class was working on something else.

Professional Development

  • CALL-EJ (4/5) is the free online journal for Computer Assisted Language Learning
  • LL&T (4/5) is a free online journal for Language Learning and Technology
  • IRRODL (3/5) is a free online journal for the International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning (not specific to language learning)
  • Educause ELI (3/5) is the Educause Learning Initiative (not specific to language learning). It's full of the most recent studies on adult learning.
  • ABE Disability Manual (3/5) Good info for working with students with disabilities.
  • OTAN - articles and even video demos on teaching with technology
  • AALHE (Association for the Assessment of Learning in Higher Education) Rubric Database