Online Resources and Tools for Language Teachers

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Our little language school has recently been dumped by a major company whose language classes we had been organizing and teaching for over 20 years. Their human resources department felt they could invest their training budget better by buying licences to two online platforms and releasing the practice of organising and learning into the hands of their employees.

Though I am very sad about this development – I lost groups and students of many many years – I don’t see online platforms as competition to our coaching. Even if some companies might believe in using them to replace us ‘real teachers’ (and save money?), most online platforms are there to support us. And those I would like to thank here for their very valuable services and introduce you to some.

I have been buying subscriptions to several that I have been using on a regular basis ever since I’ve gone online due to the pandemic. Some I also used before. The prices for subscriptions are affordable and won’t stretch your budget too much. I always prefer to pay annually.

None of them is out to replace us as teachers or trainers. Instead, they provide great material and tools for us to use to supplement our courses. I still create and choose a lot myself from all kinds of sources. I am a proponent of a content based syllabus guided by the principle of trying to offer and instigate ‘meaningful communication’. And I also believe in using ‘authentic material’ as early as possible, meaning all the things the internet provides: books and magazines, you tube videos, TED talks, Curiosity Stream, you name it. The challenge with every group and individual is to find out what their respective interests and needs are.

One webpage that I have been using even before the pandemic is onestopenglish. Here I mostly use The Guardian Weekly lessons, but onesstopenglish provides a huge range of topics and activities ranging from language structure (grammar) and vocabulary to copiable material for business related topics.

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Linguahouse is a similar page that provides ready-made lessons with reading and listening material for English language trainers to use. Lesson plans guide you along and give advice or suggestions as to how to use things.

Here is an example lesson plan related to World’s Ocean Day on June 8th and World’s Turtle Day.

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Breaking news is a page provided by Sean Banville for free and it offers amazing little mini-lessons with a huge range of possible activities to choose from. I always wondered how he did it and found a ‘tool box’ underlying some (if not all) the exercises. Textivate is one of them.

Textivate is a tool with which you can jumble up texts into tiles for your students to put back together. It supplements the reading process and is fun. The textsize is limited to 500 words, but for copyright reasons it is advisable to summarize or write your own texts anyway.

From Textivate you come to TextActivities of which Textivate is a part. I just got my subscription to TextActivities and am still in the process of trying out and exploring. With these tools you can create your own stuff and adapt to the needs of your students.

I am really happy and grateful for these possibilities. And they are also great fun.

Thanks!

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