Whatcom Literacy Council

Recommended On-line Resources

For English Language Learners (ELL) and Their Tutors



Beginning Literacy


English Central

Video materials for learning English.  The videos are graded by three levels: Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced.  Special sections on Academic,  Business, Career, Media, Social, Travel English and for Young Learners.  Has units on vocabulary and pronunciation.  Includes idioms.



Dolch sight word list

Designed for children, but a good way to brush up on sight words especially to prepare for a citizenship interview.



Interesting things for ELL

Includes games and puzzles for ELL, including puzzles and games for pronunciation, YouTube videos for learning English, and quizzes based on Voice of America lessons.



Activities for ELL learners from The Internet TESL Journal

Links to Voice of America Special English, bilingual vocabulary lessons in many languages, grammar, and vocabulary.



U.S.A. Learns!

Introductory quiz suggests placement.  Instructions are presented in many languages.  Lessons include common situations.



ProLiteracy Education Network

Has many links to on-line resources, including math, ELL practice, citizenship, practical living skills, and test preparation.




On-line language learning to learn French, English, German, Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese for English speakers and to learn English for speakers of French, Portuguese, German, Italian, and Spanish.



The Times in plain English

Background news articles in simplified English.  The site seems to be updated weekly with three new articles on topics found in the news. 



Lingua Leo

Russian language site for English grammar practice.  Great for native language explanations in difficult areas of grammar.



Listening and Pronunciation


Emphasis is on listening and pronunciation.  Instructions are in many native languages.   Spoken words can be heard in slow and normal speeds.  Cursor can be used to hear a word pronounced.



ESL Listening Lab

Uses recorded conversation and quizzes to check understanding.  Three different levels, the last being the most difficult.  Includes 20 minute vocabulary lessons, and practice in academic  vocabulary.




Russian language site for English grammar practice.  Great for native language explanations in difficult areas of grammar.




Advanced Literacy

Awesome Stories

Tutor may need to provide context as the videos are presented as snippets of live broadcasts or accounts of real time events.  Includes videos on topics such as biographies, disasters, trials, films, history, philosophy, sports, and the arts.





Home School Math: First Grade through Geometry

Site has worksheets, video lessons, quizzes, and games for many levels of math.  Emphasis is on learning concepts rather than simply memorization.





Computer Skills and Literacy

Basic keyboarding

Includes lessons, practice and tests for touch-typing on both Qwerty and Dvorak keyboards.  Good for ELL planning to take academic classes or hoping to land office jobs.



Keyboarding skills

Includes word lists by topic for practicing and improving key-boarding skills.  Vocabulary lists include business English.



Out and About in the World of Computers

This website and the free downloadable teachers’ guide are designed to be used with the Out and About workbook.  Together they provide a very good introduction for beginning ELL to computers, the Internet, the terminology, and how to use them.  Highly recommended.


Northstar Digital Literacy Assessment

Developed initially by the St. Paul, MN library system.  Offers teaching, practices, and tests leading to a certificate in basic computer skills, the World Wide Web, Windows, Mac OS X, and email.    Good for persons wanting to learn to use the Internet or owning their first computer.  Not specifically designed for ELL, but matters are presented in a simple fashion.



Webwise:  BBC Computer Tutor

Another website offering basic computer literacy skills.  Not designed for ELL and lessons assume a working understanding of English.



Lessons on digital security and privacy

Recommended for parents and new users of the Internet.  Not particularly aimed at ELL but includes lessons on digital literacy and security.




Developed by Goodwill Industries in eastern North Carolina.  Offers free tutorials in reading, math, and computer literacy, including Office





Ben’s Guide to U.S. Government

Designed for children and young adults  by the Government Printing Office.  The lessons aimed at grades 9-12 are written for those having intermediate English-language skills.  Can be useful for adults preparing for citizenship.





EL Civics for ESL Students

A commercial site for learning civics by ELL.  Many advertisements.   Lessons include  history as well as civics and information on American holidays.



ProLiteracy citizenship lessons

Site is specifically designed for ELL learners intending to become US citizens.    Includes lessons, vocabulary, and practice tests.




US Citizenship and Immigration Services

The official site for USCIS includes laws, copies of forms, outlines of the process of getting a green card and becoming a US citizen.



The New GED

Free practice test

Please check with Jessica or Keeley at the Whatcom Literacy Council for more information on the 2014 GED test.



Special Interest and Academic

Khan Academy

Free on-line academic courses in the areas of science, math, economics, and the humanities,  including American civics.   Assumes the learner is comfortable with academic English.  Includes video lessons.




The website is a marketing tool for the company’s Geographic Information Systems. Free training introduces the learner to GIS and its applicability to solving world problems.



Creating Music

Designed for children, includes games and a few lessons in pitch and tome, and how music is written.



National Gallery of Art

Includes some on-line resources mostly aimed at children in studio art.  Look for NGAKids Art Zone for lessons.




This is a marketing tool for ArcSoft which makes digital imaging software.  Some products can be demonstrated on line. 




Instructor and Tutor Resources

ESL flashcards

Includes free flash cards that can be printed on a home computer for use with ELL learners, including nouns, adjectives and action words.  2900 flash cards are available.   Pictures are childlike.



K-12 reader

Designed for home schooling, this has many worksheets and games and activities.  Includes lessons in grammar, phonics, Dolch words and Fry words.   Emphasis seems to be on elementary skills, but reading comprehension lessons and practice are suitable for adult ELL.



Assembly for Teachers of English Grammar

Tips for teaching grammar by English Grammar teachers.




Includes instructor resources for learning to teach and for teaching ELL, writing and reading, math and numeracy, and civics




Includes lesson plans and a variety of virtual field trips in science and social studies, focused on the Chesapeake Bay area.



OWL-Purdue Online Writing Lab

This site has lessons in teaching writing and grammar.  Includes work sheets for teachers of ELL on grammar and style.  Includes a lesson on copyright and plagerism.  Also has tips for ELL engaged in a search for employment.



Lesson plan writing

Shortcuts for preparing and sharing lesson plans.






Revised 12/12/2013