Engaging websites as an online material in EFL classes

Do you have access to the internet in your ESL classes and want to implement online materials to have engaging lessons? Here’s a list of websites that I use in my classes. Most of them are ideal for pre-intermediate level and above learners. 

Breathingearth.net

This website is a stats center which displays environmental facts about our vulnerable world. All the fact figures are given in timely fashion which changes second by second. It’s really breathing earth websiteinteresting to watch the world change in a real-time simulation by numbers. You can get the great picture where our civilization goes in a few minutes. Fascinating, isn’t it?

Although the data comes from prominent and trustworthy sources, it’ll be a good idea to state that the figures can’t be %100 accurate. It’s a just a simulation of our world’s environmental health. When you hover your mouse on a country, you can get figures of population, birth and death rates and also carbon emission figures about the country chosen in a box on the left corner. The whole website aims to raise awareness on climate change in the world, which should definitely start from students in schools.

How can it be implemented in an EFL lesson?

I present this website after teaching comparatives and superlatives to serve as a context for making comparisons among countries in the world. It’ll be both challenging and engaging for students to make comparisons from live stats about the planet that they should care about in future.

After presenting the breathingearth.net website in class, I ask my students to examine the map on the website at home and look at some countries from an environmental perspective. As a homework assignment, I ask them to write a number of comparison sentences about the facts of the countries on the map. It's much better for revising mainly the comparative forms because they need much more time to find out the world’s least or most polluted places. Then, in the next lesson, I ask them to write the sentences on the board and check all of them according to the facts from the map and comparative structures.

As a follow-up activity, you can ask your students to say the least and most polluted places among the countries mentioned so far and you can also revise superlatives forms as well. At last, after all the pollution facts about our world mentioned so far, it'll be a good idea to start a discussion about the environmental problems of our world. 

Whathappenedinmybirthyear.com

what happened in my birth yearIt’s quite interesting to ask students what happened in the year they were born. There are many websites which display the historical facts on days of a year. You just put in your birth date or year and they give you facts about the year or date you were born. Among all my choice is whathappenedinmybirthyear.com. It only requires the year you were born in, and then after a short countdown animation of the years, it starts displaying the facts or events happened on that year with a typewriter animation. It gives facts of the Oscar and Nobel awards, popular films, noteworthy songs or important events from that year or decade. 

How to implement it in a Lesson?

Obviously, as the website displays the past events from history, it uses past simple tense a lot. It's great for revising past simple tense or used to structures to talk aboıt single completed events and past habits. 

I prefer giving it as a homework assignment. The students are assigned to write what happened around their birth years and make small presentations of the world that they just started to live what happened in my birth year websitein.

The text produced in the website uses present participle clauses when describing the past habits people usually did in that year. For example, ‘…People buying the popcorn in the cinema lobby had glazing eyes when looking at the poster…’  This style of writing can be a problem for the lower level of learners. 

The participle clause used here can be rewritten in a more simple English by using past continuous tense or used to structures. For example, ‘In the year I was born, people were buying the popcorn in the cinema lobby while they were looking at the poster.’ Or ‘People used to buy popcorn in a cinema lobby.’

It might be a challenging assignment for elementary learners, but when they just focus on extracting facts from the typewritten texts, it becomes much easier to write some simple sentences as given above. I’ve even used this website with my pre-intermediate class and they learned a lot of things from the year they were born in.

Ideally, this website can be used in adult classes to comment in the year when they were born. They may not be used in classes of teenagers or younger learners as many facts or events may not be appropriate for your classes.

Makebeliefscomix.com

make belief comics websiteDo you like reading comics? Then, this award-winning website will be quite interesting for you. It has a huge stock of short comics  There are many topic-based comics which are ready to use in classes. If you don’t find what you really need, you can make your own comics. You can use them to revise or teach any grammar or vocabulary in a funny way. There’s also a section for children with special needs.  I think they’ll be helpful resources for them. There is a special page which describes how to use 

There is a special page which describes how to use makebeliefcomix in ESL lessons. It offers things like printables, lesson plans, writing prompts etc. There’s also another page for teachers helping to use the comics in an effective way in their lessons.

I think it’s really a good place for teachers who want to motivate their students by bringing fun time to their lessons. 

How to implement it in a Lesson?

I prefer to make my own comics and then use them in class time to revise some grammar points. I ask my students to work in groups and complete the

make belief comics picture

 talking balloons of the comics with the grammar that we’ve covered. I also recommend you to make your own comics, because it may not be easy to find something that really suits your needs. When you create you own, it’s better to leave talking balloons empty in the comics, because it becomes much more difficult to find something to fit in the context of the given talking balloons than creating your own context.

I share some of my comics down below. You can use them if you like.They‘ll have fun. Be sure about it!

Mapsofwar.com

Maps of War is quite an interesting website that has interactive maps of our civilization displayed on a timeline. There are maps on the historical development of things like democracy, religion, etc. You can see the whole picture of change in a few minutes. It’s really amazing. 

How to use it in EFL classes?

I have a few suggestions to implement it into classes.

maps of war website

  • After watching an animated map video, students then get into groups and write the summary of that history they‘ve just watched. It can ideally be used with intermediate and above level students as the language might be challenging for low levels of English.
  • If you have access to the internet in your class, then you can ask them some wh- questions about an interactive map and check them online in class. This can possibly be turned into a trivia quiz among groups in class. They can guess the answer and check it on the map by just touching the questioned time on the map.
  • The third one is the one I usually use in my classes: The past perfect revision. I assign different maps to my students as homework to have a close look at their map and write a number of past perfect sentences using the facts from it. Then, in the next lesson they just write their sentences on the board and the class checks them according to the map.

Telescopictext.org

This is one of my favorites. It’s something that your students probably haven’t seen before. It’ll really catch their attention.

First of all, I think the simplicity of website’s design is great for a class-time activity. It’s plain and white. Secondly, there's always a surprising element in the use of the website. I think the website is not complicated at all. You just click on the word and it’s unfolded. This means you can zip a whole text into even a word level.

telescopic text example1In the website, you can write your own foldable text. When a user clicks on the word they’ll see it unfolded. In each click, the text will solely display your text hidden in the word you’ve selected.

For example …

telescopic text example2

I drink tea. (tea is folded)

I drink tea with milk in the morning. (you’ll see this when you click tea)telescopic text example3

I drink tea with milk in the early morning before school. (and this when you click morning)

You start with a simple sentence, and then you just expand each word with extra words. The pictures given here are from example telescopic texts in the telescopictext.org.

How to use it in an ESL class?

Do you like doing dictogloss in your classes?  I think integrating this website into a dictogloss activity is a great idea. It’ll make the crucial feedback stage in dictogloss more effective. If you don’t know how to do dictogloss, here’s  a link to describe what it is and the procedures of it. 

I've used telescopictext.org in my dictogloss activity about time expressions used with present perfect and past simple tenses. On my telescopic text, the time expressions are folded. In the feedback stage after dictating the text, when you want your learners to notice the target grammar subject, I open my telescopic text on the internet and I unfold the whole text bit by bit. In each time before unfolding, I try to elicit what’s missing there. We discuss on the possible suggestions whether they can be grammatically used there. Then, I unfold the text and see the correct time expression there. When compared with original dictogloss, you can go over the whole text bit by bit and in this way you can spot on each grammar item visually.

I’ve attached my dictogloss text below. In the telescopitext.org, you have to create an account, which is free, and write your foldable text there. The website stores your texts and when you login to your account you can see your previous texts, which will be ready for future lessons there. 

Futureme.org

futureme.org website This is a website for you to send e-mails to future. You just write your email message and put in your email details along with the future date that you want the system to send it to you in the future.  That’s all. Isn’t it amazing to get messages from the past?

How to implement it in an EFL lesson?

My suggestion to use this website is revising making future plans and predictions in English.

The procedure is very simple and short.

First, warm-up your student’s about their future plans and predictions for future. This stage will be a good ice-breaker. There’ll be a nice atmosphere in the class after getting a few plans and predictions.Then, arrange a future date with your students that when their plans and predictions should be realized or met with reality. At the futureme.org website you can set the delivery time till the year 2067, however, I suggest the delivery date to be before the summer holiday as it’ll give you a chance to check whether they have realized their plans or not.Besides, you can't set the delivery date less than 30 days ahead. At last, assign it as homework to write a future dated e-mail on this website.

You may also make pairs to send the emails to each other, which will be another way to check the homework on that future date. On the arranged future date, you can ask the students to get into pairs that have sent emails to each other and talk about the realisation of their plans. In the whole class feedback stage, it’ll be much more communicative to talk on the plans and predictions with someone who has checked it before.

You can also try out my similar lesson plan which can be found in teacherspayteacher.com.

The street view mode in Google maps

Isn’t it amazing to wander around the world without moving a leg? The street view mode in Google earth is great for seeing different places in the world.  You just type in the place you want to see and you’re virtually in the streets of that place. Great, isn’t it?

How to use it in EFL lessons?

There are different ways to use google earth in EFL classes, such as strolling through the streets with running commentary or just giving directions to a place. It’ll be very interesting for students to talk about a real place while virtually walking on it.Getting into google maps is really simple. Just write google.com/maps on your browser and you’ll get there. Then, on the map, there’s a search bar for you to locate a place on the map.

I’ve tried giving directions in my class and find using street maps in class a bit difficult. However, the activity has attracted my students’ attention a lot and we’ve had a very nice lesson on giving directions even the technical problems we’ve had during the lesson.

street view mode exampleAfter a lesson on giving directions, as a homework assignment, I ask my students to find a restaurant in New York near a starting point that I give. Then, at home, they try to give directions to the restaurant they choose. In the class, they gave the directions to one of the students in class and the student tries to get there by touching the street map on the interactive board. 

A few notes on the technical odds

  • Use google chrome for google maps. In internet explorer, the street view is not as good as in google chrome.
  • Ask students to note down the street names while preparing their directions. While giving directions in class, you can easily get lost on the map, because google maps let you move on the street by picture by picture, which makes it very easy to miss a turn. Besides, the student who gives the direction should check if his friend is on the correct way. It’ll be easy to check if they know the street names, which appears on the roads digitally. You can also expand the street map which will place both the street view and the map on the screen. The Google’s street man figure moves on the map when you move along the street view, which will help you see where you’re getting.
  • In order to get into street view, first touch the yellow man figure in the right-bottom corner.  Then, touch the street where you want your man to land on. The dragging of the man feature may not work on interactive boards.google street view mode example2
  • When you assign the homework make a demo of the street view in class. You‘ll see whether your interactive board’s system is suitable for the street view or not. If you see too many odds, then you may want to assign a running commentary presentation of a street on the map. This will make the activity more controlled and give them more control on the street view.

Have fun! 

 

  • web-picture

Add new comment