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Useful websites for ESOL teaching

NATECLA has consulted with ESOL teachers from across the country to bring members, and the wider ESOL community, a guide to useful teaching resources online. 


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If you are aware of a useful site that doesn't appear on this page, please email info@natecla.org.uk with the name of the website, the web link and a brief overview of why it's useful to you and we'll endeavour to add it.

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ESOL Skills for Life resources and learner materials

Excellence Gateway ESOL site

Excellence Gateway ESOL materialsThis exhibition site brings together some of the most effective resources for ESOL available on the Excellence Gateway including key materials created as part of the Skills for Life strategy, such as the Adult ESOL core curriculum (2001). Key features of the site include:

  • embedded learning materials for 12 vocational subject areas
  • dyslexia support pack
  • the Working with refugees and asylum seekers pack
  • ESOL CPD modules, particularly those developed for the Certificate for Adult ESOL Subject Specialists
  • ESOL Access for All - which supports inclusive learning for bilingual learners with learning difficulties or disabilities
  • a link to an interactive version of the adult ESOL core curriculum 

Excellence Gateway - New to ESOL resources  

The ‘New to ESOL materials’ are designed to support practitioners (teachers, classroom assistants, volunteers and others) working with ESOL learners who are often referred to as being at ‘pre-Entry’ level, including those with no or very limited literacy in any language and/or no knowledge of the Roman alphabet and numbers. The materials, developed by Learning and Work Institute and Learning Unlimited, consist of: guidance documents, a screening package, 5 units of teaching materials, a template pack and very simple reading texts. There is a short accompanying video in which two ESOL practitioners discuss some of the challenges they face and how the materials can help to address them.

ESOL Nexus materialsThis website was developed as part of a European-funded project. It has a large number of resources (including videos) for practising all aspects of English in the UK, at different levels, in different contexts. There is a CPD section for teachers. 

English My Way  
This website is the result of a project organised by Tinder Foundation, BBC Learning English, and The British Council. English My Way is a 24 week blended learning programme designed for teachers who support and teach adults with no or low levels of English. It is flexible and can be delivered through a mix of tutor-led sessions, on-line learning and volunteer group activity.

ESOL materials Ireland

A collection of worksheets suitable for the ESOL classroom - particularly useful for pre-entry and entry level classes. 

SQA (Scottish Qualification Agency) ESOL materials

Full ESOL Skills for Life courses available at at range of levels and on a variety of topics. For lesson plans, go to 'Support materials'. 

Citizenship materials for ESOL learners

These materials were developed as part of the former ‘knowledge of English’ requirement for applications for settlement. However, they may still be useful in providing resources to embed citizenship content in ESOL lessons.

Council of Europe: Language support toolkit for adult refugees

CoE language support for refugeesThis on-line toolkit is designed to assist organisations that provide languages support for refugees, and especially the volunteers working for them. It offers practical resources in 3 main sections:
  • Information on cultural and language awareness and language learning
  • Guidance on finding out about refugees’ language needs and planning language support
  • Learning activities that range from breaking the ice, learning vocabulary and thinking about language and learning, to a series of scenarios that focus on real-life communication and suggestions for interacting with the local community.
Very useful for people who are supporting refugees with basic survival language of the host country. Although intended for refugees some parts could be used or adapted for newly arrived migrants who are not refugees. 

ESOL Scotland 

ESOL teachign resources lesson plansThis site has links to a wide range of resources, including videos. The databank is searchable and many resources can be adapted to suit your context.

Skills Workshop  
This site holds an enormous collection of literacy, numeracy and ESOL resources submitted by practitioners.  Many are PDF or Word documents. The contextualised resources are mainly vocational.  

OnestopEnglish: ESOL resources

Resources for the ESOL classroom from Macmillan's well-known teaching site. Includes lessons for beginners and Cambridge ESOL Skills for Life Resources for Entry 2/3 learners. 

ESOL Courses

An online learning platform which includes self-study lessons for ESOL learners and classrooom activities for teachers. Categorised by level and topic area. 

Learning Unlimited  

These LLN resources were developed by Learning Unlimited as part of various projects. The Welcome to the UK materials toolkit is designed to support integration and has free downloadable resources, including initial assessment materials.

ESOL Literacy
This is the website of Literacywork International, set up by Heide Wrigley, ESOL basic literacy specialist in the USA. There are resources and videos for teachers to support them in teaching ESOL learners with low levels of literacy.

Adult Literacy Tutor

Online Training programme for teaching adult literacy (USA)

Learn My Way

Free courses on the basics of IT including using a computer, browsing the internet, sending an email and finding work online created by the Tinder Foundation. 

General grammar, vocabulary & skills resources

This site has a wide selection of material including grammar and vocabulary, quizzes and business English.

British Council Teaching English

Another website offering a wide variety of language and skills-based activities which includes a regularly updated webinar for CPD purposes plus a range of lesson plans and teaching activities 

A large collection of activities on idioms, phrasal verbs, slang and grammar lessons (confusingly found by following the link to Hints of the Day).   The quizzes section provides answers.

Film English

This British Council award winning website provides innovative and complete lessons based on a variety of film clips. 


A large online listening collection with interviews, news stories and everyday conversations.  Each recording comes with images, a full transcript and multiple choice quizzes.  In addition there are listening games designed for beginning students.

Easier English Wiki

A wealth of lesson plans and reading / language resources for English learners on world issues based on the magazine that's written in graded English. Particularly good for reading practice and to encourage autonomous learning. 


Learn English for free with 1043 video lessons by experienced native-speaker teachers. Classes cover English grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation, IELTS, TOEFL, and more.

ESOL grammar and vocabularyESL Student Lounge
This site offers a range of listening, reading, and vocabulary and grammar exercises, with a large section on phrasal verbs.  Along with some of the exercises, there are links to the grammar reference section where points of grammar are explained and examples are given. 


This site offers sections with lessons on grammar, pronunciation, vocabulary, reading and writing, speaking and listening.  Most of the material is information and explanation but there are some quizzes, mainly using drop down lists of choices and with answers. This site uses British English.

The Grammar Education Resource Guide

A useful collection of grammar sites for teachers and students. The page includes 40 individual resources in six sections, including general resources, reference resources and study resources.

Mainly vocabulary and grammar resources

ESOL grammar and vocabulary resourceswww.sightwordswithsamson.com

This site teaches and then tests in several ways lists of sight words based on 4 levels of difficulty.  There is audio support for the text and the activities are interactive.  The sight words are shown in the context of sentences.


Over 250 quizzes designed for ESOL learners and grouped into two levels.  Areas covered include adjectives, verb forms, conjunctions, pronouns and spelling. Some material is suitable for general literacy use.  The quizzes take the form of multiple choice or cloze and a score and answer sheet are available.


This site covers pronunciation, slang, idioms, grammar, contractions and writing the alphabet.  It has videos in most sections and an alphabetical list of grammar terms.


A collection of short lessons with questions and answers covering parts of speech, parts of the sentence and types of punctuation (oddly referred to as ‘mechanics’).

University of Victoria Language Centre   

The English Language Study Centre study zone has well presented material at five levels from upper beginner to advanced.  The material consists of lessons and exercises and cover grammar, reading and vocabulary.  There is an index to all content.

Guide to Grammar and Writing

The Guide to Grammar and Writing offers detailed explanations and quizzes covering sentence parts, plus material on writing at the paragraph and essay level. 170 quizzes are listed under the Ask Grammar / Quizzes option including sentence parts, verbs, punctuation, spelling phrases, style and homophones.

University of Ottawa Writing Centre

Writing ESOL lesson plansAn online grammar course covering parts of speech, parts of sentences, verbs, pronouns, phrases, clauses, sentences, spelling etc.  It offers explanations with links to other sections.  The default font size is small but the home page (top right) allows you to resize this to medium or large font. 


This site offers lessons and interactive exercises on topics including verb tenses, prepositions, conditionals, modals, and vocabulary.  Exercises use cloze and multiple choice and answers are provided.  The Reading Room provides links to online newspapers, magazines and books. The Listening Lounge provides links to radio stations.  The games section consists of crosswords related to the vocabulary lessons.


This site has a collection of grammar and vocabulary quizzes and crosswords.  Also there are bilingual quizzes in over forty languages.  The format of the activities is fairly simple using multiple choice or drop down lists of choices.

A collection of comics to read online or print explaining points of grammar, plus templates for learners to write their own stories.  Also free puzzles, riddles, jokes, comic clip art, etc.

David Appleyard: World of English
Presented as a series of ‘Guides to’ this site covers spelling and grammar.  The spelling section covers suffixes, prefixes, double letters, commonly confused words and is clearly laid out showing the spelling rule, then examples and exceptions.  Other sections include a grammar glossary that lists terms with examples, punctuation, irregular verbs, pronunciation; an initial sounds section suggests associations between blends and meanings, e.g. ‘sn’ words are often negative.

Wise old sayings

A collection of sayings, quotes and proverbs on a range of topics which students can search for. You (or your students) can also submit suggestions for further sayings.


Spelling websites ESOL teacherswww.infoplease.com/spellcheck

A spelling checker where you enter individual words and alternative spellings are suggested with definitions. It does not cope well with very unconventional spellings.  The same page has links to frequently misspelled words, frequently mispronounced words and tips for better spelling.
An online tool for improving spelling based on the words you choose to use. You begin by entering your own list of 5 or 10 words (or more) and have three options.  The first is Test Me.  Using test me you can play the sound of the word and hear it in context in a sentence (this seems to work surprisingly well given the words are chosen by the user).  You type in the word and the spelling is checked.  You are given a score although not told the correct spelling of any error but encouraged to try the Teach Me tool.  Teach Me shows each word, lets you hear it, says it aloud letter by letter and the repeats the word.  Finally Play Game offers 8 games such as wordsearch, hangman, scrambled words and scrambled sentences using your word list.

English Language Garden

A website compiled by ELT spelling expert and author or well-known book Teaching Spelling, Johanna Stirling, it provides a number of activities and other website links for learners and activities and CPD articles for teachers. 


A unique spellchecker designed for dyslexic learners where you can paste in a phrase, even with very unconventional spelling and ghotit will mark apparent misspellings and offer corrections.  The suggested alternatives are given with a definition to help you and suggestions follow grammatical possibilities (which is why you need to enter a phrase rather than a single word).  If you use Internet Explorer as your browser, you can download an addition which enables speech so you can hear both the text you typed and the list of possible correct spellings.

The Spelling Bee

The interactive spelling bee offers short pieces of text and sentences with gaps to complete as you hear the words read. The advantage of this site is that you hear the words spoken in context and if needed can hear them individually again along with a hint.  The activity is available at eight levels of difficulty (based on US school grades). 

Read Write Think 

The student materials section of the Read Write Think web site has a large collection of interactive resources. For example, Flip a Chip explores using affixes and prefixes, and Construct a Word works with adding word beginning to endings so students learn about sound / letter correspondence.


online games for ESOL lessonswww.freerice.com 
Freerice is a site for developing vocabulary and grammar with a twist: for every correct answer, 20 grains of rice are donated to the UN World Food Programme.  In the (default) vocabulary pages a word is presented (and its sound can be played) and the user chooses one of four options for its meaning.  At the easiest level words like heat, start and build appear.  Go to ‘Change subjects’ on the right of the box to move to the Grammar pages. Note that you can change the level yourself and when you answer correctly several times, the level goes up although you can restart at any time. 

Game Zone

A collection of games designed for ESOL learners including the formidable Grammar of Doom. Roll your mouse over the name of the game to find out the nature of the content.


Scrabbleblast is a game where you find words from letters on a board and score for the letters you use (as in real scrabble).  Good for developing the ability to work out the relationship between letters and sounds.

Merriam Webster dictionary

A collection of word games provided by the Merriam Webster Dictionary site. Games are based on scrambled letters, building on root words, finding words from groups of letters and include popular ones like Fowl Words.  The free online games have some limited options. 

Ed Helper Crossword Generator

A simple crossword generator that is suitable for up to 30 words and clues which can be printed out.  Other tools on the site (such as a word search generator) unfortunately require a subscription.


Eclipse Crossword is a free tool you can download to your computer. The programme works from the list of words and clues you enter to create crosswords as simple or demanding as you like.

Online tools

The following websites allow teachers to create great online activities which could be used in the classroom or by learners at home.


This free website allows you to create a fun learning game really easily which can be used as an interactive tool in the classroom. Create quizzes or short surveys to enhance other classroom activities. Learners can use their mobile phones to respond to the questions. 

Online tools


Triptico is a collection of interactive resources using word magnets which enable teachers to create engaging learning activities for their classroom. It is a set of 23 apps that you can adapt and share with colleagues. 

You can take advantage of a free trial for pay £15 for an individual licence. 


Create free online flashcards for learners to recycle vocabularly. Flashcards can be used as a basis for various different matching activities and games. 

Wordle is an online tool for creating an image from text you have pasted in.  It could be used as a starting point for creative writing or to present keywords. You can choose fonts and colour schemes and then post your image on the net or print it or save it to your own computer.  You are free to use the image on a t- shirt or a magazine cover as long as you acknowledge the source. Note that although unsuitable language is deleted from the gallery, it is possible to come across it before this is done.


This is a free collaborative interactive board. The facilitator (teacher) has to register and then just shares the link with the participants. You can create as many boards as you wish and it can be used for brainstorming (as you can display definitions, images, websites, etc.), vocabulary teaching and much more.

Russell Stannard's Teacher Training Videos

If you want to get to grips with the latest online tools for English language teachers, Russell's easy to follow, step by step videos will show you how. 

Nik Peachey's Learning Technology Blog

Another great website to broaden your technology classrooms. Nik's blog posts introduce teachers to different IT resources to enhance lessons or homework activities. A number of free downloadable guides are also available. 


Pronunciation activities for ESOL learners

Spoken Skills  

Spoken skills has a collection of sound files to model correct pronunciation and a record and playback tool so you can compare your voice with the model voice.  It covers vowel and consonant sounds plus idioms, work conversations and legal terms.

Many Things

This site has sound files with two very similar words (e.g. pond, pound).  You can hear the two sounds and then are asked to identify which is being spoken in the next section.

BBC Learn English: Pronunciation site

The BBC’s Learn English site’s pronunciation section uses phonemic symbols and covers similar sounds, the relationship between sounds and spelling, the unstressed schwa sound, connected speech and voicing.  Radio programmes and quizzes revise the information.

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