Tag Archives: ESL

AASL Recommended Apps: Humanities and Arts: English Central

Last summer, the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) announced their Best Apps for Teaching and Learning 2017. The apps encourage qualities such as creativity and collaboration, and encourage discovery and curiosity.


Level: Kindergarten +
Platform: iOS  and Android
Cost: FREE

The app English Central helps students learn English through the thousands of videos it makes available. Videos range from casual to formal speaking situations. The app also includes courses specifically for those entering certain professions like hotel and service and offer levels from beginner to advanced. Students can focus on specific skills like grammar, pronunciation, and useful expressions and also take assessments to see how well they are learning material.  Students can even have daily lessons delivered to their phones, if they choose. A tip to make English Central even more useful would be to suggest that ESL students take the app home with them to share with other family members who might also be learning English.

English Central has a Teacher Portal which offers webinars, video lessons, and other tools specifically for teachers. The app has been reviewed by the MidAmerica Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages, and also by Busy Teachers.org who posted this detailed review.

Watch this quick video to see English Central in action:

Alternatives to Round Robin & Popcorn Reading


Help students become better readers


Wondering if Round Robin and Popcorn styles are really the best practice when it comes to working on reading in the classroom? This article from Edutopia takes a look at the traditional Round Robin style of reading out loud and offers some alternative practices.

Round Robin reading is defined in the same article as students reading “orally from a common text, one child after another, while the rest of the class follows along in their copies of the text.” Popcorn style is a type of Round Robin reading, where one student is reading aloud, then says “Popcorn” before choosing another student to continue reading.

Author Todd Finley makes the argument that when it comes to improving literacy and encouraging kids to read, the Round Robin style may not be the best approach. He shares several studies and their findings that Round Robin may have a negative effect on students and their reading progress.

Happily, the article includes 11 better approaches for you to try instead! A few of them include:

  • Choral reading: The teacher and class read passages or paragraphs out loud together, which reduces potential embarassment for struggling readers
  • Teacher read-aloud: The teacher shows how proper pronunciation and inflection are used while reading
  • Buddy reading: Students read out loud to prepare for reading to children in a younger grade

Do you use Round Robin or Popcorn style reading? How about any of the 11 alternatives? What have you found works the best in your library or classroom?


Free English Games for Kids

funenglishgames2Do you have English as a second language students? Or do you need some engaging games for all your English language learners? Well Fun English Games for Kids might be just the resource for you!

Fun English Games offers games, activities, worksheets, quizzes, and videos that can be used by English learners of all ages. The Fun Stuff area has a list of English idioms (like “It’s a piece of cake” and “Under the weather”), tongue twisters, and English language jokes. There are also fill-in-the blank quizzes and plenty of activities, such as classroom scrabble or “What will you bring on vacation?”

Check out this example of a video you might find on their site: