ICT Tip: ESLYes contains 365 short ESL stories that include pre-recorded narration and text

April 17, 2012

This ICT tip could be best applied to the following subjects:


Quick overview: A website that contains 365 short stories designed for the ESL classroom. All of the stories are narrated by professional speakers. Similarly, there’s also a section called easy conversations for beginners which are sorted by category.

What is it? Students follow the text as the story is read out loud. Each short story is accompanied by quizzes, vocabulary, and other interactive activities. The site is easy to navigate and the printed text in each story is large enough to be seen from the back of the class if projected on a interactive whiteboard or digital projector. (Source: Mark Richards, James Lyng Adult Education Centre, EMSB)

Update 4/17/2012: One of our readers pointed out that there are a lot of distracting ads on this page. If you’d like to automatically hide  the ads, then I recommend you install AdBlock for Firefox or AdBlock Google Chrome which works great with this site.

ICT Tip: Manythings.org for English Literacy (ESL) students

March 27, 2012

This ICT tip could be best applied to the following subjects:

Link: http://www.manythings.org

Quick overview: A website that contains a variety of self guided learning activities for ESL students.

What does it do? Are you looking for short activities to help ESL students build listening and reading skills? If so, you may want to take a look at the American short stories in the Listen and Read Along section of the Manythings website. All the American short stories are read out loud by professional speakers. The students can play, pause, and rewind the short stories as many times as they need. In addition, some stories highlight the individual words as the author reads each passage. In regards to other content, the website contains activities that deal with reading, listening, biographies, videos with subtitles, and more.. (Source: Kim MacDonald, Place Cartier, Riverdale Campus, LBPSB)

Will this site work on all computers? Adobe Flash is required for a significant number of the activities on the Manythings website, but there is a large section of activities that will work on computers without flash or mobile devices such as the iPad or iPod.

Mobile Monday: Speech-to-text with Dragon Dictate for the iPad

January 9, 2012

This ICT tip is for the mobile devices category:

Info: Dragon Dictate for iPhone, iPod, iPad.

Cost: Free.

What does it do? The app will transform spoken speech into text. No training required, just speak and go!

How can it help my students? If you are an ESL (Literacy) teacher, this app could be used to help your students with pronunciation. Students could practice individually by dictating short sentences to the app. If the app repeatedly has trouble recognizing certain words, this can be a cue for the students to ask the teacher for the correct pronunciation. Students could also benefit by seeing grammatical errors “written out” that might otherwise slip by unnoticed when they are speaking. Lastly, this app could be beneficial for students with disabilities that may prevent them from typing on a regular keyboard. Text generated in this app can be e-mailed or copy and pasted into other apps. Definitely worth checking out!

Video Tutorial: For a 2 minute video on how to use Dragon Dictate for the iPad, please click on the video below:

Mobile Monday: Using the iPad with ESL/FSL students and the ComicBook! app

November 21, 2011

This ICT tip is for the mobile devices category:

Info: ComicBook! for the iPhone, iPod, iPad.

Cost: 1.99$

Quick overview: Using the ComicBook app in a literacy (ESL) classroom to help students develop basic writing and communication competencies.

How can the app be used in the classroom? Sharon Meehan teaches a literacy level “Building Foundations” course at ACCESS Riverside in Brossard, Quebec. Using the ComicBook app in conjunction with the iPad’s built-in camera, Sharon’s students took pictures of each other to create a simple comic. Students used the iPads to insert written captions to simulate real life situations, such as ordering at a restaurant. At the end of the exercise, the iPads were  connected to a digital projector so students could collaboratively edit grammar and spelling, or rearrange the placement of the written captions.

What advantages did the mobile technology bring to the classroom? The app’s easy to navigate interface (symbols and pictograms) helped students focus on the activity, rather than getting bogged down by a complicated computer interface. It was surprisingly easy for the students to create the comics, even if they didn’t have a strong grasp of the English language. The limited length of written “comic bubble” style captions also ensured that the students wrote short, concise interactions. 

Interested? The activity was closely linked to the prescribed elements of Sharon’s ENG-B122-4 course and it mainly focused on developing writing competencies. Would you like to do a similar activity in your Literacy or French second language classroom? We have enough iPads to accommodate your class and we are booking now for January 2012 and beyond. Contact us to discuss how we can adapt this activity for your classroom!

Video: To see a 2 minute in-class video demonstrating how Sharon’s students used the app in the classroom, click the play button below:

ICT Tip: Englishspeak provides a multitude of written dialogues that ESL students can hear spoken out loud

May 6, 2011

This ICT tip could be best applied to the following subjects:

Link: www.englishspeak.com/english-lessons.cfm

Quick overview: An ESL/Literacy website that contains typical English dialogues (going to the doctor, shopping, taking a taxi, etc..) that your students may encounter in their everyday life. Each sentence or individual word can be spoken out loud with the click of a mouse. Students can choose hear the audio clips at a regular or slow speed.

How can this be used in the classroom? Englishspeak could be used by ESL/Literacy students who need help with learning basic vocabulary and pronunciation. It’s also useful for students who benefit from learning at their own pace. As this resource is web based, your students can visit this website on their home computer or a school computer (with earphones) and listen to material as many times as they want.

How does it work? If students “hover” their mouse over a word, it will be read out loud. However, if students click on a word, they will be brought to a Merriam-Webster dictionary definition of the word. If your students enjoy this site, there is also a section with 1000 common spoken phrases which works in the same fashion. (Source: Evelyne Hadida Singer, Saint-Laurent Centre, EMSB)

ICT Tip: Comprehensive, ready-to-use EFL/ESL lesson plans based on current world events

May 19, 2009

This ICT tip could be best applied to the following subjects:

break_newsQuick overview: Ready to use EFL/ESL lesson plans based on current world events. Each lesson contains reading and listening exercises. There is a new lesson added every three days.

How can it be used in the classroom? The Breaking News English website (www.breakingnewsenglish.com) offers your students an opportunity to read and listen to current news items on-line. Each comprehensive lesson plan contains a news article, pair work, discussion, communication activities, reading and vocabulary exercises.

Technical info: The lesson handouts are available in Word and PDF document formats.  You are encouraged to print and use the lessons with your students.  Podcasts (an audio recording of the lesson) in MP3 format are available on the site too. If you’d like to know more about PDFs, MP3s, or Podcasts, please consult my ICT Blog Terminology section.


  • The lessons are free.
  • There is a new lesson every three days.
  • All lessons are based on stories currently in the news.
  • As the world’s news breaks, teach it!
  • All lessons are also downloadable in Word and PDF formats.
  • Listening files can be downloaded as MP3 audio files.
  • Listening files can also be subscribed to via a podcast.
  • Classroom handouts are readily reproducible.
  • There is a graded listening with each lesson.
  • Teachers can copy/paste parts of the lessons they want to use.

(Source: Lise Demers, Place Cartier Adult Education Centre, Lester B. Pearson School Board. Certain parts of the “Quick Overview” description have been paraphrased from a description provided to me from Lise Demers. As well, certain parts of the “Highlights” description have been paraphrased from the Breaking News English about section.)


ICT Tip: Dave’s ESL Cafe Idea Cookbook, activities for Literacy students

August 6, 2008

This ICT tip could be best applied to the following subjects:

Quick overview: Dave’s ESL Cafe Cookbook (http://tinyurl.com/davescafe) features loads of simple activities to use in the classroom for Literacy students that include culture, food, games, music, writing, vocabulary, etc.

How can I use it in the classroom? For each section, there are small activities (or may I even say simple suggestions) to use in classroom. For example, in the section “ice breakers” there are numerous activities that you can use in your classroom on the first day of class and so on.. There’s WAY too many to list here on my Blog, but I highly suggest you check this site out!

P.S. – Dear Mystery teacher at the St-Pius April 7th, 2008 workshop. I did not take down your name for this amazing resource. Please contact me so that I can credit you for this site. Thanks!

ICT Tip: Tim’s ESL Page for literacy students

July 6, 2008

This ICT tip could be best applied to the following subjects:

Quick overview: A great ESL page (http://tinyurl.com/55xyrq) with lots of simple and straightforward media rich activities.

How can it be used in the classroom? Tim’s ESL page can be used in a literacy classroom that is looking to use some simple ICT activities. Here are just a few great examples:

(Source: Farida Ali, James Lyng EMSB)

ICT Tip: AT&T voice synthesis provides help with French and English pronunciation

June 27, 2008

This ICT tip could be best applied to the following subjects:

Quick overview: A website that will read back ANY written text in a variety of realistic sounding synthesized voices.

What does it do? The AT&T Text to Speech website (http://www.tinyurl.com/k49s9) allows you or your students to type in single words or full sentences and then hear it spoken back through the use of computer generated voice synthesis.

How can it be used in the classroom? This website can be a valuable tool for FSL or literacy students learning pronunciation. The AT&T website allows you to change “speaker” with a drop down menu (see image below) so that you can hear your phrases with different voices and accents. There’s even a French voice (named Arnaud) who is programmed with a French Canadian accent. I should note that unlike some other voice synthesis websites, certain AT&T synthesized voices can be quite realistic sounding. Best of all, the AT&T Text to Speech site is very easy and fun to use.. try it out!

Advanced ICT Tip: Additionally, you are given the option to download the spoken sound file (.WAV file) that can be inserted into other PC applications such as PowerPoint or Photostory 3.0.

ICT Tip: VozMe – Text to sound converter website

June 19, 2008

This ICT tip could be best applied to the following subjects:

Quick overview: Transforms written text into speech files that can be played on portable music players.

What does it do? In a nutshell, the VozMe (http://www.vozme.com) website is a “text-to-MP3″ converter. The term “Text-to-MP3″ means that one can copy and written text (i.e – Word files, content of web pages, etc..) and then paste it into this website. The result will be a spoken sound file, meaning it will be read aloud by a synthesized voice.

How can it be used in the classroom? Your students can take these spoken sound files (MP3s) and then listen to them on their iPod or digital music player at their convenience, similar to an audio book. This could be a great tool for students with learning difficulties who are better at listening to course materials instead of reading them! (Source: Vince Jansen (LEARN) Cool Tools Duel workshop)

ICT Tip: Inserting your own voice recordings into Microsoft Word

May 22, 2008

This ICT tip could be best applied to the following subjects:

new_micr2Quick overview: A video tutorial that explains how you can record and embed your voice into a Microsoft Word document. Relatively easy to do, all you need is a computer microphone and access to Microsoft Word.

What does it do? As the title implies, this ICT tip allows you to create a Microsoft Word document with both spoken and written instructions for your students. The document can then be distributed to your students with the audio embedded in it.

How can it be used in the classroom? This is a great ICT tip for teachers who need a way for their students to practice the oral comprehension of certain key phrases (i.e – language courses) by providing written and spoken cues in an electronic document. The students can read your words and replay the associated sound clip over and over again. The best part is that it’s pretty easy to do, even if you aren’t too comfortable with ICT. Works great for non-language classes if you wish to create documents with oral instructions.

Video Tutorial: In order to best explain how to this is accomplished, I created an on-line video tutorial which can be viewed below:




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