Dr. Grammar

Posted on Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Dr. Grammar is a useful grammar reference site for students of English as a second language. Maintained by the Department of Languages and Literatures, University of Northern Iowa, this website provides quick, reliable guidance on thorny grammatical areas that often bewilder the ESL writer, for example when to spell numbers out and when to write them as figures, or how to document online sources in writing.

Features:

  • Clear, concise explanations of hundreds of problematic grammar points arranged in an easy-to-use, A-Z, question-and-answer format
  • User-friendly question-asking option designed to help students pose questions about issues not dealt with on the site
  • Handy index of books and free quality resources on the net that provide assistance in grammar and writing, word origins, plagiarism, business writing, and more.
Site URL: http://drgrammar.org/

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Parapal-Online: Free Interactive English Language Exercises

Posted on Monday, July 15, 2013

Parapal-Online is a great online source of interactive exercises for students of English as a second language. The exercises are varied in type and provide practice in general English, business English, and academic English. There are also colourful activities for children and special resources for mobile devices.

Features:

  • General English exercises on a range of essential topics including grammar, punctuation, spelling, vocabulary, listening, and letter/email writing
  • Academic writing exercises on the fundamentals of essay and paragraph writing and specific types of essays (descriptive, cause and effect, compare and contrast, argumentative)
  • IELTS graph description exercises and Cambridge FCE/CAE exercises
  • Business English exercises for intermediate level
  • Gap-fill and multiple-choice exercises for children
  • Mobile exercises for Android, iPhones, and Blackberries
  • Free downloadable software for creating customized exercises
Site URL: http://www.parapal-online.co.uk/

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Story Arts

Posted on Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Heather Forest's Story Arts is a website about storytelling and methods of using it to develop students' language skills. Packed with exciting resources, the site will be useful for English language teachers seeking to use stories as a teaching aid in their classroom.

Features:

  • Story library with concise versions of world folktales and Aesop's fables for retelling
  • Specialist articles on storytelling and its applications in education
  • Lesson plans, games, and activities prepared for teachers of English as a second language, math, and the sciences
  • List of links to more websites about storytelling
Site URL: http://www.storyarts.org/index.html

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Bibliomania

Posted on Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The aptly-named Bibliomania is a wonderful stop for hearty fans of classic literature. Designed in a simple but friendly style, the site offers full texts of thousands of literary works by classic writers from different historical periods. Besides the texts, useful study guides and reference works such as Rhys' Biographical Dictionary of English Literature and Simonds' History of American Literature are also included to aid students in understanding the authors and the history of literature.

Features:

  • Classic fction, poetry, and short stories by timeless writers from Joseph Addison to W. B. Yeats
  • Classic drama including all of Shakespeare's plays and selected masterpieces by Moliere such as "The Miser" and "The Misanthrope"
  • Interviews with famous authors and special articles on various literary topics of interest
  • Study guides to some of the tougher works written specially for school and university students
  • Research section with a searchable library of reference books, biographies, religious texts, and non-fiction classics
Site URL: http://www.bibliomania.com/

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English Specialist

Posted on Thursday, March 14, 2013

English Specialist is another useful website for the independent ESL student looking for free practice materials on the Internet. Neat and simple, the site offers a rich collection of resources designed for self-study including execises, quizzes, worksheets, and games.

Features:

  • Interactive exercises, worksheets, and oral drills focusing on key points of English grammar and structure
  • Topic-based quizzes and activities for thematic building of everyday vocabulary
  • Texts for reading comprehension practice
  • Fun section with jokes, tongue twisters, and games
  • List of recommended ESL websites
  • Can be used by students of English at various levels of proficiency: elementary, pre-intermediate, intermediate, upper-intermediate
Site URL: http://english.specialist.hu/

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Writing for Business and Pleasure

Posted on Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Writing for Business and Pleasure is a website about writing maintained by Stephen Wilbers, the renowned columnist and author of several acclaimed books about writing including Writing by Wilbers and Keys to Great Writing. For English language learners, this website promises exciting surprises with a great collection of quality resources designed to help them improve their writing skill.

Features:

  • Informative articles covering a range of topics related to writing in English, from "classic" ones such as how to punctuate and capitalize to more "advanced" subjects that involve writing like a bureaucrat or using Rogerian persuasion to "turn losers into winners"
  • Free self-study exercises on writing and grammar, both interactive and downloadable in PDF format
  • Free monthly tips on writing delivered by email
  • Free weekly resources: weekly error, weekly word, weekly poem
Site URL: http://www.wilbers.com/index.htm

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The Guardian Style Guide

Posted on Tuesday, February 05, 2013

The well-known Guardian Style Guide, prepared by the respected British newspaper, is a comprehensive guide to English grammar and style much loved by English learners and writers around the world. Designed for reference purposes, this Style Guide offers straightforward tips on how to use English correctly. The online version of the guide can be accessed electronically at the newspaper's official website.

Features:

  • Covers virtually every topic related to English usage, from spelling and punctuation to commonly misused and confused words
  • Entries arranged in A-Z format for quick and easy reference
  • Downloadable PDF version of the classic 1928 guide book
  • Link to the hardback version available from Guardian bookshop
  • Links to other interesting Guardian resources: the Guardian's code of conduct for journalists, corrections of language used in the media, and a blog on correct language use
Site URL: http://www.guardian.co.uk/info/series/style-guide

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Online Edition of The King's English

Posted on Friday, January 04, 2013

H.W. Fowler's The King's English is considered one of the classic books on English grammar and usage. Published in 1908, this monumental reference work can still be accessed online via Bartleby's website and will be a useful compass for students trying to find their way through the complexities of English grammar.

Features:

  • Complete online copy of the second edition of The King’s English by H. W. Fowler, originally published by Clarendon Press in 1908
  • Hyperlinked text for easy navigation, complete with a built-in search engine
  • Detailed coverage of all aspects of English grammar and usage, from core syntactical issues to less noticed areas such as euphony and ambiguity
Site URL: http://www.bartleby.com/116/

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The World Atlas of Language Structures Online

Posted on Friday, November 23, 2012

The World Atlas of Language Structures (WALS) is the online version of the renowned book published in 2005 by Oxford University Press. Revised in 2011, the current version offers students and researchers a comprehensive database of structural properties of languages of the world, fully indexed and searchable via interactive tools.

Features:

  • Highly informative chapters providing a complete overview of all aspects of language structure: phonology, morphology, nominal categories, nominal syntax, verbal categories, word order, simple clauses, complex sentences, lexicon, sign languages
  • Advanced search functions allowing convenient access to specific data on any language in several ways: alphabetically, by language family, by region, or by country
  • Searchable database of cited references with various export options, ideal for researchers
Site URL: http://wals.info/

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LEO: Literacy Education Online

Posted on Wednesday, November 07, 2012

LEO (Literacy Education Online) is a website about writing that offers a wealth of useful resources for students looking to improve this important skill. Written by Sharon Cogdill and Judith Kilborn and affiliated with the Write Place (the writing center at St. Cloud State University), LEO gives students practical writing tips and advice via a problem-based checklist that covers every aspect of academic writing from starting a writing project to revising and citing sources.

Features:

  • Introduces the process of writing and how to deal with writer's block
  • Explains different types of writing and how to write them: abstracts, annotated bibliographies, book reviews, comparison and contrast essays, definition essays, descriptive essays, narratives, process essays, reaction papers, research papers, summaries
  • Gives step-by-step instructions for writing research papers with specific guidelines on paraphrasing and citing sources
  • Offers tips and advices on writing resumes and cover letters
  • Provides an overview of English grammar and explains key problem areas
Site URL: http://leo.stcloudstate.edu/

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Garbl's Writing Center

Posted on Monday, October 29, 2012

Garbl's Writing Center by Gary B. Larson is a nice website designed to help students write effectively in English. Featuring straightforward guides to clear, concise writing and useful links to online writing resources, the site is a great companion to turn to when you need help and advice on writing.

Features:

  • Garbl's Style Manual: an A-Z style guide covering all aspects of written English: abbreviations and acronyms, addresses, capitalization, numbers, plurals, possessives, punctuation, spelling, word usage, and the World Wide Web
  • Garbl's Plain English Writing Guide: a 7-step guide to clear writing using plain-English principles
  • Garbl's Concise English Writing Guide: a guide to simplifying writing by using short words, replacing lengthy phrases, and eliminating redundancies
  • Garbl's Writing Resources: an annotated directory of links to online writing resources, spanning a wide range of topics: grammar, concise writing, word play, the writing process, style and usage, words, plain language, action writing, creativity, and general reference
  • Garbl's Writing Bookshelf: a categorized list of useful books on grammar and writing recommended by the author
Site URL: http://home.comcast.net/~garbl/

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The English Blog

Posted on Thursday, October 25, 2012

Jeffrey Hill's The English Blog is an all-in-one website where you can find virtually everything about, as the name implies, English. Nicely designed and regularly updated, it boasts a very wide range of materials for the excited English learner: lessons, guides, news, tips, links, and all sorts of trivia that will make English learning enjoyable.

Features:

  • Helps develop general study skills and all essential language skills: listening, speaking, reading, writing
  • Covers important aspects of the English language: grammar, vocabulary, idioms, slang, pronunciation, punctuation, spelling, culture
  • Provides useful resources for studying other subjects: linguistics, literature, translation, American studies
  • Provides preparation materials for standardized tests: TOEFL, TOEIC, GMAT
  • Provides teaching ideas and lesson plans for teachers
  • Links to diverse types of materials: cartoons, crosswords, games, interactive activities, podcasts, quizzes, videos
  • Touches on almost every field in which English is used: advertising, business, current affairs, economics, history, music, politics, religion, science, sport, travel, web/tech
Site URL: http://www.englishblog.com/

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The History of English in Ten Minutes

Posted on Sunday, October 14, 2012

The History of English in Ten Minutes is a series of video podcasts produced by the Open University to chronicle the historical development of the English language from its beginnings to the present day. Consisting of ten videos, each only one minute in length, this acclaimed series provides English learners with a highly digestible overview of the history of the language, shedding light on the curious origins of words and phrases and charting the global expansion of English with amazing facts.

Features:

  • 10 one-minute podcasts, each focusing on one important topic: Anglo-Saxon, The Norman Conquest, Shakespeare, The King James Bible, The English of Science, English and Empire, The Age of the Dictionary, American English, Internet English, Global English
  • Full downloadable transcripts in PDF format for all videos
  • Links to related materials offered by the Open University
Site URL: http://www.open.edu/openlearn/history-the-arts/culture/english-language/the-history-english-ten-minutes

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Writing Tips from Study Guides and Strategies

Posted on Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Study Guides and Strategies is a website where students can find many guides written to help them develop their study skills. There is a section in this website that focuses on the development of academic writing skills with hundreds of practical tips and strategies useful to student writers of English.

Features:

  • Introduces students to the process of writing with detailed descriptions of the steps involved: developing the topic, identifying the audience, researching, summarizing research, prewriting, drafting, revising, proofreading
  • Explains the common types of writing that students encounter: five-paragraph essays, expository essays, persuasive essays, argumentative essays, literary essays, exam essays, research proposals, lab reports and scientific papers
  • Provides useful guides to aspects of English that often present difficulties to the student writer: transitional words and phrases, modifiers and commas, spelling and commonly misspelled words, prefixes and suffixes, citation styles
  • Offers practical tips and advice on developing other important study skills: project and time management, thinking and evaluation, reading and research
Site URL: http://www.studygs.net/index.htm

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Mr. William Shakespeare and the Internet

Posted on Monday, October 01, 2012

Mr. William Shakespeare and the Internet is a wonderful reference site for students, scholars, literature fans, and everybody who loves or wants to find out more about Shakespeare and his works. Comprehensive in scope, the site is a one-stop point that is both a catalog of links to really good Shakespearean materials available online and a collection of primary documents about Shakespeare that cannot be found anywhere else on the Internet.

Features:

  • Provides categorized links to quality online Shakespearean resources, including full texts of various editions of Shakespeare's works, literary criticisms, study guides, lessons plans, and listings of sources that shaped or influenced Shakespeare's works
  • Presents primary documents and other unique materials about Shakespeare's life, including a timeline, genealogy, timeline summary chart, biography quiz, book and website reviews, prefaces to historical editions, and biographical information on Shakespeare's contemporaries
Site URL: http://shakespeare.palomar.edu/Default.htm

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Academic Writing Resources from Finnish Virtual University

Posted on Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Finnish Virtual University (FVU) has one of the best websites currently available online for students wishing to improve their academic writing skills. With a friendly interface and excellent study resources that include both theoretical instruction and exercises for practice, this site literally demystifies academic writing and will appeal even to students who find academic writing a daunting subject.

Features:

  • Provides a comprehensive coverage of four essential skill areas of academic writing: cohesion, grammar, punctuation, and style
  • Each skill area fully explained in a self-contained section that offers easy-to-remember theory followed by interactive exercises for consolidation
  • Extensive use of diagrams, charts, and tables along with a wealth of example sentences making learning really enjoyable
  • Scientific site design with menu-operated functions allowing students to progress through the basics of academic writing systematically at their own pace
Site URL: http://sana.tkk.fi/awe/

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Free English Learning Materials from MyEnglishTeacher.net

Posted on Wednesday, September 26, 2012

MyEnglishTeacher.net is a useful website for beginning and intermediate students of English, offering a rich collection of ESL self-study resources, including free English grammar lessons and a TOEFL grading service.

Features:

  • Free English grammar lessons sorted into different categories: tenses, describing and descriptions, punctuation marks, phrases and special words, word usage, common writing errors and how to fix them
  • Clear lesson design with extensive use of illustrative charts, diagrams, and example sentences
  • Self-study quizzes and summaries of grammar rules given after each lesson to help students practice and remember key grammar points
  • TOEFL practice center providing information about the TOEFL writing section and a selection of sample TOEFL writing topics (students can choose to write about one of these topics and request their work to be graded for a snall fee)
Site URL: http://www.myenglishteacher.net/mainfield.html

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Grammar and Usage for the Non-Expert

Posted on Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Grammar and Usage for the Non-Expert is a website written for learners of English as a Second Language. With friendly, non-technical guides, the site explains hundreds of common problems of English grammar and usage in straightforward language, offering students easy-to-remember rules for dealing with them.

Features:

  • Explanation of essential points of English grammar and usage: punctuation, capitalization, prepositions, pronouns, interjections, verbs and verbals, verb tenses, mood, dangling participles, split infinitives, parallelism, articles, modifiers
  • Guide to identifying and correcting common errors in English, including writing mechanics, confusing word pairs, and faulty parallelism
  • Guide to differences between British and American English usage
Site URL: http://grammartips.homestead.com/index.html

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Skills Workshop

Posted on Friday, May 11, 2012

Maggie Harnew's Skills Workshop is a great, non-profit making website where skills teachers can find free resources to use in their classes. Contributed by users from around the world, these classroom-tested resources are available for free download and are ideal as supporting materials for any literacy, numeracy, functional skills, or ESOL programs.

Features:

  • 1500+ free Functional Skills and Skills for Life worksheets and teaching ideas organized into 7 categories: Literacy, Numeracy, Pre-Entry, ESOL, ICT, General, and Contextual
  • Powerful search engine capable of filtering resources by level and subject area to help teachers find exactly the resources they are looking for
  • Companion blog for users to comment on the resources and discuss related teaching issues
  • Categorized links to other useful skills resources on the web
Site URL: http://www.skillsworkshop.org/

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Middle English Dictionary

Posted on Saturday, April 07, 2012

The Middle English Dictionary is an authoritative work on Middle English, covering the lexicon and usage of English from after the Norman Conquest to the beginning of the printing press (1100 to 1500). Compiled by the University of Michigan, this dictionary has been called "the greatest achievement in medieval scholarship in America" and can be freely accessed online in an electronic version that not only preserves the original contents but also gives users powerful search tools not provided by the print version.

Features:

  • Based on a huge corpus of Middle English texts including texts contributed by the University of Michigan, texts provided by the Oxford Text Archive, and texts specifically created for the corpus
  • Offers multiple search possibilities (word search, entry search, quotation search) and search options (Boolean search, proximity search, combination search), each with highly tweakable settings designed to help users find exactly what they are looking for
  • Offers the full original corpus in browsable form
  • Comes complete with a detailed user's guide that makes using the dictionary a breeze
Site URL: http://quod.lib.umich.edu/m/med/

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The Spelling Blog

Posted on Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Johanna Stirling's The Spelling Blog publishes insightful articles about English spelling, offering readers useful tips on how to learn it. The blog also provides English teachers with practical advice on how to teach spelling. Read The Spelling Blog and gain new looks at a subject that is more often than not referred to as "dry", or, to use the blog author's words, "fuddy-duddy".

Features:

  • Categorized posts examining various aspects of English spelling learning and teaching, from basic rules such as the 'i'-before-'e' rule to more "advanced" topics such as homophones and loanwords
  • Embedded videos provided throughout along with short quizzes and activities, ideal for self-study
  • Printable/photocopiable worksheets in PDF format, audio files, and PowerPoint presentations for free download
Site URL: http://thespellingblog.blogspot.com/

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ELT Podcast

Posted on Saturday, March 31, 2012

ELT Podcast offers downloadable MP3 podcasts produced for students and teachers of English as a second or foreign language. The podcasts focus on developing students' listening and speaking skills as well as offer ideas and advice for solving some real-life English teaching issues. Although no longer updated, the site lists all of its past episodes in a user-friendly archive for easy download.

Features:

  • Basic and intermediate ESL dialog podcasts, each featuring a conversation between two or more speakers about an everyday topic, complete with transcripts and practice drills
  • Teachers' podcasts featuring ESL teachers discussing various topics related to education and English language teaching
  • Supplementary podcasts for students using the NorthStar Textbook
  • Phrase of the Week podcasts
Site URL: http://www.eltpodcast.com/index.html

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Idiom Quest

Posted on Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Idiom Quest is a comprehensive, fully searchable database of American English idioms. This reliable online dictionary of idioms puts the meanings of popular and not-so-popular idioms at your fingertips and better still, it will help you find idioms that relate to a specific topic or idea, for example "happy" or "anger". This is just perfect when you are trying to express your thoughts in English or build your knowledge of idiomatic English around a given subject.

Features:

  • Large database of idioms that can be searched by keyword or browsed in alphabetical order
  • Includes idioms spanning a range of usage contexts (business, education, emotion expression, history, law, law enforcement, politics, popular culture, relationships, social life, sports, technology) and covering different linguistic categories (abbreviations, acronyms, double negatives, euphemisms, Indian English, idiomatic lexicon, loan words, metaphors, rhetorical questions, sarcasms, scat-related, slang, vernacular)
  • Full explanation of each idiom with example sentences illustrating their typical uses and cross-references to related idioms
Site URL: http://www.idiomquest.com/

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Free ESL Activities from Stuff.co.uk

Posted on Thursday, February 16, 2012

Stuff.co.uk offers some interactive activities for ESL students to use online. The materials include practice tests for the TOEFL and IELTS exams and other exercises covering various topics related to English grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation, and literature.

Features:

  • Sample test questions for TOEFL structure and written expression
  • Sample test questions for IELTS listening section 1
  • Grammar, vocabulary, and phrasal verb quizzes (intermediate level)
  • Phonetic study materials, with an interactive chart of International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) symbols for self-study and an accompanying quiz to check understanding
  • Matching quiz for testing knowledge of well-known literary works
Site URL: http://www.stuff.co.uk/english.htm

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Bad Human Factors Designs

Posted on Saturday, February 11, 2012

Michael J. Darnell's Bad Human Factors Designs is an interesting website that examines the designs of not-so-well-designed, at least in the author's opinion, everyday objects and provides suggestions on how to improve them. While it is oriented towards native speaker tech geeks, the site is also a useful source of reading material for ESL students.

Features:

  • Over one hundred stimulating articles looking at a range of objects with improvable designs
  • Sleek site structure providing easy navigation to articles about different types of problematic design such as things that don't work the way you expect, things that don't work well together, things that are hard to handle, etc.
  • Extensive use of pictures to clarify technical points
Site URL: http://www.baddesigns.com/index.html

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