Open Yale Courses

Yale University, one of America’s premier universities, has just uploaded seven entire introductory undergraduate courses to the web! The seven courses are in English (modern poetry), philosophy (death), astronomy (issues in astrophysics), political science (introduction to political philosophy), physics (fundamentals of physics), religious studies (the Old Testament), and psychology (introduction to psychology). Each course includes a syllabus, reading assignments, zip files of course pages and video and audio downloads of lectures together with complete lecture transcripts. It is this feature that is exciting for students who wish to practice academic listening and/or note-taking. Unlike the “canned” lectures in typical ESL listening/note-taking textbooks, which are scripted and read and do not include natural lecture language with its frequent pausing, repetition and rephrasing, these are authentic, full-length college lectures, and each lecture is part of an authentic, full-length college course. (If you complete the whole course, you will not receive any college credit–but you will definitely learn a lot!) Click here to explore the Open Yale Courses site or to get started.

Watching Captioned Movies

Do you like movies?  You can watch movies for pleasure and improve your listening skill at the same time.  Buy or rent an English-language movie that has subtitles or captions.  Watch the movie several times–at first with the captions, and finally, without.  When you feel comfortable listening to the movie without subtitles, move on to your next movie.  Be sure to choose movies you will enjoy watching more than once!

Some of my favorite movies are The Twelve Chairs, The Gods Must Be Crazy, Stand and Deliver, The Four Seasons, and the Harry Potter movies.  But you should choose the kind of movies you enjoy watching.

You can do the same with TV shows.  Collections of episodes are available on DVD.

ESL Blues

ESL Blues‘ main page has lots of quizzes and exercises for low-to-high intermediate level students. Most of them concern grammar, but there are some links to reading and vocabulary exercises and quizzes as well. There is also a section called “Common Errors Explained” which focuses on topics like do vs. make and adjectives ending in -ed and -ing, which even advanced students still struggle with.  The quizzes supply the correct answers if you make a mistake; sometimes, you are given the rule as well. My personal favorites are the “double quizzes,” which combine grammar quizzes and trivia quizzes. Do you want to know which English king died on the toilet? Take the first Pot Luck double quiz and find out!

Dave’s ESL Cafe

Dave’s ESL Cafe is the grand-daddy of ESL/EFL websites. Dave Sperling was experimenting with ways to use the internet to teach and learn English when most of us still didn’t know what email was! The ESL Cafe is a vast site with many pages of interest to both students and teachers of EFL/ESL. If you click on STUFF FOR STUDENTS at the top of the homepage, you will find pages devoted to various types of quizzes, slang, phrasal verbs, idioms, and more. There are forums where you can pose a question about English, and two chatrooms, one for teachers only and one for students and teachers (you will have to register if you wish to participate in chat). There is a podcast to listen to, over one thousand ESL/EFL links, and lots more. It would take a week just to explore everything that is here.