What do the lions at the zoo have to do you with your EAL class?
Not much—unless you’re in the know about killer online EAL resources.
All it takes is an internet connection and a little creativity to get your students roaring to learn and speak English.
You can create incredible out-of-the-box learning opportunities for your classroom with just a few clicks, including everything from cartoon spelling bees to custom worksheets to, yes, even a live-stream of the zoo, as you’ll see later in this post.
So get ready to start bookmarking some amazing websites.
Let’s explore some of the best EAL resources that the internet has to offer your classroom.
Why Online EAL Resources Are Essential
With online EAL resources, you don’t just get new materials for your classroom. You get access to a wide variety of different materials, which is crucial for successful EAL education.
Think about it. Online EAL resources are accessible instantly and many of them are free. In the time it takes you to eat lunch, you can find resources designed by institutions and educators from around the world, with all different types of goals and interests, and catering to many different learning levels. (We’ll show you plenty later in this post.)
Why’s that important?
Most obviously, having a variety of EAL resources handy will help keep your students engaged. For example, one minute they could be listening to English via video or reading an English blog, and the next minute applying what they’ve just learned in an interactive online quiz. This pushes comprehension levels to the max.
Plus, think about how your students spend their time outside of the classroom. Many of them are already watching online videos in English, following well known English speakers on social media and listening to English pop music.
They’re getting their English from all types of online sources; you want to build on this positive engagement, not dampen it with the same old worksheets and textbooks every lesson.
Some of your students may also have some background in English grammar from previous classes. Providing a variety of online EAL resources allows students to use what they’ve already learned in new ways. Variety keeps them on their toes and produces interactive challenges in real time.
What to Look For in EAL Resources
Here are some important qualities to look for as you’re searching for resources online:
- Interactivity. Online EAL resources often come with quizzes, games or memory tools built in, which will help students retain and apply what they’ve learned.
- Real-world relevance. Try to mix it up with resources that are relevant to current events and pop culture. This is the easiest way to cure “when will we ever use this?” syndrome.
- Communication opportunities. When gathering new resources for class, it can be easy to stock up on reading and listening materials, but more difficult to find materials that spark communication and conversation. And of course, that’s what your students ultimately need to be able to do: communicate in English!
Some resources come with speaking or writing activities built in, but you should also consider how other EAL resources can be used as prompts for presentations or debates.
8 Online EAL Resources Every Teacher Needs to Bookmark
Smithsonian Kids is one of the best online EAL resources out there due to the sheer variety of materials. No matter what your students are interested in, there will likely be something to engage them on this site. Plus, you’ll have the opportunity to develop your lesson plan around a wide range of real-world topics.
You’ll find everything from an arctic wildlife portfolio to a geography from space quiz to a jazz mixing board. Certainly a little something to get every student interacting with English in a way that interests them.
One of the most exciting resources for young students is the Animal Cams section. You and your class can get a front row seat to the panda, lion and elephant exhibits at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo!
From there, you and your class can have group discussions about what the animals are doing in real time. It’s a great way to practice using new English verbs. (Just keep in mind that sometimes the animals are a bit camera shy, so you won’t want to devote a huge chunk of your lesson to this activity.)
Another advantage of Smithsonian Kids is that there’s a sister site geared specifically to students. This is a great place for you to begin your browsing, especially for interactive resources in English like this fun trivia game.
2. EAL Nexus
The British Council’s EAL Nexus website offers a number of engaging EAL resources you can draw from when crafting the perfect lesson plan for your students. It’s geared specifically for teachers and jam-packed with effective lesson-building tools.
You’ll find 22 pages of fantastic resources that you can use in the classroom as-is or develop your own unique lesson plan around. That may seem like a lot of resources to browse through. However, you can filter the resources on this site to match the particular needs of your classroom. On the search page, select the age group, language level, language skills you want to target and more.
Plus, there are also support channels for teachers to learn more about honing their own skills.
Want to immerse your students in authentic English content… while making sure they learn from it? Then don’t miss out on FluentU.
FluentU gives your classroom access to entertaining, real-world English videos, like movie trailers and music videos, and transforms them into a language-learning experience. With interactive captions and quizzes, your students will pick up new vocabulary in context, all while getting essential exposure to Anglophone culture.
Educators will also want to check out the FluentU features that make lesson planning a breeze. You can organize videos and vocabulary lists, give assignments and track student progress, all from the FluentU platform.
Childtopia may not be a big site with major institutions behind it, but it sure packs a powerful EAL resources punch. It’s an awesome resource for adding some entertainment to your classroom—your students will be learning without even realizing it.
Childtopia’s educational games combine language learning with fun cartoons geared especially for younger students. You might be particularly interested in the 29 animated stories that have listening comprehension and reading comprehension activities built right into the platform.
This site also has a number of other great EAL resources. The worksheets section has some useful vocabulary and language worksheets for beginner students. You’ll also find drawing and arts and crafts sections to keep your creative students engaged.
Science News for Students is one of the best EAL resources for combining science education with English. Consider this resource especially if you teach intermediate to advanced students and/or adult students.
This online resource serves up a wide range of science topics. Space, chemistry, physics, the body and genetics are just a few of the topics you and your class can explore together. But it’s not just the variety that’s exciting.
Because this site is geared specifically toward students, the articles are accompanied by “Power Words” definitions that you can use to introduce material and new vocabulary. There are also “Explainers” that break down complicated topics related to certain articles.
The site is updated regularly just like a traditional news site, so you’ll always have something for your next lesson plan. To get started, check out the educator-focused rundown for how to use this resource in the classroom.
LearnEnglish Kids, another useful website from the British Council, offers engaging and interactive activities sure to push your students to learn more. There are short stories, songs, word games and videos all at your fingertips.
This online resource serves up a number of powerful materials for younger EAL students to explore. “Listen and Watch” puts listening skills to the test, while “Speak and Spell” builds much needed confidence in English communication.
There are other sections focused on reading, grammar, creative expression and more. And don’t shy away from the parents’ section, which you can encourage students and their families to use as a way to keep up the English learning momentum at home.
The worksheet generator tool at ESL-Kids is one of the most time-saving EAL resources there is. Worksheets are certainly a powerful tool for English learning but they’re often the most challenging to craft. This site takes much of the difficulty factor out of the process.
There are too many worksheet themes to list, but a few that may be helpful include weather, sports, body parts, actions, feelings and family, as well as several holiday themes. Once you choose your theme, you can customize your worksheet using a key vocabulary list.
ESL-Kids serves up more than just worksheets, too. There are numerous materials you can use to develop an effective lesson plan, including flashcards, games and songs. There’s also an “In Class” resource that’s useful for first days of class and icebreakers, and which teachers who are early in their careers might find especially helpful.
PBS Kids’ Spelling Games website emphasizes English basics for young learners new to EAL education. With a number of interactive and engaging cartoons, this site helps teach English words in a way your younger students can relate to.
From a princess-inspired “Spelling Bee,” to an interactive “Alphabet Soup” game with Cookie Monster, to a drag-and-spell activity with the famous Caillou, this site offers catchy games with fun characters that your students will love.
There are also plenty of other EAL resources you can draw from using the PBS Kids online learning platform. Other topics to explore with your students include adventure games, engineering games, math games, nature games and teamwork games.
Emphasize engaging and interactive material in your EAL classroom. There are certainly plenty of online EAL resources to choose from with a bit of browsing. Setting your EAL students up for success means giving them the confidence to communicate in and outside of the classroom.
Stephen Seifert is a writer, editor, professor of English and adventurer. With nearly a decade of teaching experience to students worldwide, he enjoys the many aspects of culture and traditions different from his own. Stephen continues his search for writing inspiration, boldly enjoying life to the fullest.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to teach English with real-world videos.