Released Interactive Online TAKS, TAAS, RPTE, and SDAA II Tests

Posted on Friday, May 30, 2008

The TAKS (Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills), TAAS (Texas Assessment of Academic Skills), RPTE (Reading Proficiency Tests in English), and SDAA II (State-Developed Alternative Assessment II) are statewide assessment tests administered by the Texas Education Agency (TEA). Interactive online versions of released TAKS, TAAS, RPTE, and SDAA II tests are available from TEA's website and can be used by ESL students to test their reading and writing skills.

Features:

• Released TAKS for Spring 2006, April 2004, and Spring 2003 (Reading/English Language Arts, Mathematics, Writing, Writing Prompt/Social Studies, Science)

• Released RPTE for Spring 2006

• Released SDAA II for Spring 2005 (Reading, Mathematics, Writing/English Language Arts, Writing/Reading/English Language Arts Prompt)

• Released TAAS for Spring 2002, Spring 2001, and Spring 2000 (Reading, Mathematics, Writing)

Site URL: http://www.tea.state.tx.us/student.assessment/resources/online/index.html

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Longman Business English Resource Library

Posted on Thursday, May 29, 2008

Another quality site in Pearson Longman's ELT series, Longman Business English Resource Library is the place where ESL students can find a range of good, free business English materials. For teachers, there is a special section with many useful teaching resources.

Features:

• Online and downloadable business English quizzes, exercises, and activities

• Photocopiable worksheets in PDF format containing featured business articles

• Downloadable business wordlists (glossaries) with definitions of business terms, examples, synonyms, and collocations

• Downloadable business English teaching materials based on Longman's coursebooks

Site URL: http://www.pearsonlongman.com/business/

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What's the Word?

Posted on Wednesday, May 28, 2008

What's the Word? is the name of a Funbrain.com's vocabulary game that helps children and ESL beginners learn basic English vocabulary. The game requires players to click on the words that correctly describe the pictures it presents.

Features:

• 6 different vocabulary themes: alphabet (easy level), animals, fruit, tools, machines, and shapes

• Full-color illustrations

• Instant explanations

Site URL: http://www.funbrain.com/vocab/index.html

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Richmond Public Library's Canadian Citizenship Practice Test

Posted on Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The award-winning Canadian citizenship practice test prepared by Richmond Public Library is not only useful for people who want to apply for Canadian citizenship. It is also an excellent way for students of English to test their knowledge of Canada's history and culture.

Features:

• 110 multiple-choice questions compiled from the actual test's official book A Look at Canada

• Selectable number of questions (5, 10, 20, 40, 80, or all) and language (English or French) for each test attempt

• Downloadable booklet in PDF format containing Canadian citizenship study questions and answers for Richmond

Site URL: http://www.yourlibrary.ca/citizenship/

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The Bedford Research Room

Posted on Monday, May 26, 2008

The Bedford Research Room, built using materials from Mike Palmquist's well-known book The Bedford Researcher, is a comprehensive guide to the research process that students as well as teachers of almost any subject will find useful.

Features:

• 'How-to' articles analyzing the researcher's major tasks: how to search an online library catalog, how to search a database, how to search the Web, how to develop a research question, how to evaluate sources, how to develop a thesis statement, how to work with information from sources, how to create a works cited or references list, how to use your word processor, how to write for the Web

• Checklists (in downloadable PDF, RTF, and DOC formats) for the steps involved in the research process: exploring topics, narrowing a topic, planning a search, skimming sources, interviewing, observing, conducting surveys, evaluating sources, taking notes, avoiding plagiarism, drafting, integrating sources, revising, editing

• Links to sites that support discipline-specific research, field research, and electronic search for information

Site URL: http://www.bedfordstmartins.com/researchroom/index.asp

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Quizzes for Intermediate Writing

Posted on Friday, May 23, 2008

Quizzes for Intermediate Writing, from the English Language Institute of the University of British Columbia, is a nice collection of exercises that focus on writing at intermediate level. Students will be able to learn the skills needed to successfully complete various types of writing tasks: description, examples, comparison, contrast, process and narration, cause and effect.

Features:

• Description quizzes: "-ed" vs. "-ing" adjectives, word order, prepositions of place, verbs of location, empty subjects, clauses with pronouns, clauses with prepositions, words that mean "thing"

• Examples quizzes: examples sentence structures, quantifiers, identifying categories, matching word with an adjective and a category, using "few"/"little"/"a few"/"a little", modifiers, expressing proportions, scrambled sentence paragraph, words that mean "show"/"say"/"include"

• Comparison quizzes: comparison structures, synonyms, word order, words that mean "be like"

• Contrast quizzes: contrast structures, opposites, "-er"/"-est"/"more", words that mean "be different"

• Process and narration quizzes: process and narration sentence structures, prepositions of time, "until" vs. "by", adverbial clauses, verbs

• Cause and effect quizzes: cause and effect sentence structures, conditionals, converting a clause into a noun phrase, identifying cause and effect, "so" and "such", words that mean "cause"

• Editing practice, vocabulary expansion, and grammar quizzes

Site URL: http://learningresources.eli.ubc.ca/intermediate%20writing%20activities/index.htm

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Lilliam Hurst 's English Exercises Online

Posted on Thursday, May 22, 2008

Lilliam Hurst 's English Exercises Online is a marvelous site that contains an amazing number of quality online exercises for ESL students at various levels of competency.

Features:

• English exercises for beginner/elementary level: grammar (does/is/has, frequency adverbs, irregular verbs), vocabulary, reading comprehension

• English exercises for elementary/lower-intermediate level: vocabulary, reading comprehension

• English exercises for lower-intermediate/intermediate level: reading comprehension, phonetic recognition, grammar (make/do, irregular verbs), Headway intermediate vocabulary

• English exercises for intermediate/upper intermediate level: grammar (modals, reported speech, passive, time clauses, relative clauses, conditionals, gerunds/infinitives), literature (short stories), vocabulary (prefixes and antonyms), phrasal verbs, reading comprehension

• English exercises for upper intermediate/advanced level: vocabulary (pairs of words, SAT revision), grammar (verbs and prepositions, adjectives and prepositions, articles, conjunctions), literature, rhetorical/literary terms, reading comprehension

Site URL: http://wwwedu.ge.ch/cptic/prospective/projets/anglais/exercises/welcome.html

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VoicePrint: Canada's Broadcast Reading Service

Posted on Wednesday, May 21, 2008

VoicePrint is a non-profit, volunteer-based service that broadcasts readings of articles from top newspapers and magazines in Canada. Created to satisfy the information needs of Canadians who cannot read by themselves, VoicePrint is also an excellent means by which ESL students can practice listening to English and improve their listening skill.

Features:

• Service available online 24/7 in streaming audio

• Past programs downloadable as MP3 files using a categorized archive, which allows users to select topics they are interested in

• Government and corporate audio announcements provided besides regular programs

Site URL: http://www.voiceprintcanada.com/

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The Basic Elements of English: An Interactive Guide to Grammar

Posted on Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Basic Elements of English: An Interactive Guide to Grammar contains excellent English grammar tutorials written by the English Department of the University of Calgary. The tutorials are most suitable for elementary to intermediate students of English.

Features:

• 4 sections on fundamental areas of English grammar and usage: 1) parts of speech (nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, conjunctions, interjections), 2) sentence elements (subjects, predicates, objects, clauses, phrases, sentences, sentence faults), 3) punctuation (periods, question marks, exclamation marks, colons, semi-colons, dashes, slashes, commas, ellipses, parentheses, square brackets, apostrophes, quotation marks), and 4) word use (idioms, words which sound alike, wrong words, synonyms, euphemisms)

• Grammar rules concisely stated and clearly illustrated with specific examples

• Interactive exercises provided after each lesson

Site URL: http://www.ucalgary.ca/UofC/eduweb/grammar/

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Writing about Graphs, Charts, and Tables

Posted on Monday, May 19, 2008

Students who are preparing for the IELTS, or other English language examinations that require candidates to describe graphs, will find it useful to visit Enda Tuomey's site on writing about graphs, charts, and tables.

Features:

• Introduction to writing about graphs and charts

• Examples of line graphs, bar charts, and pie charts (downloadable in Excel) with sample description texts

• Examples of how to write about two or more related graphs

• Links to extra online materials on describing graphs

Site URL: http://www.writefix.com/graphs/index.htm

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World Wide Words

Posted on Friday, May 16, 2008

World Wide Words is a very interesting website by Michael Quinion that presents his insightful comments on today's English and will be appreciated not only by native speakers but also by advanced students of ESL.

Features:

• Articles on a number of issues related to English usage

• Answers to usage questions asked by the site's subscribers

• Reviews of books on the English language

• Discussion of topical words and phrases used in newspapers or online documents

• Explanation of newly coined words and phrases which may have been missed by dictionaries

• Explanation of words and phrases that are rarely used, look strange, or refer to obscure subjects

Site URL: http://www.worldwidewords.org/index.htm

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The Free Dictionary by Farlex

Posted on Thursday, May 15, 2008

The Free Dictionary by Farlex is a powerful dictionary that allows users to search across multiple dictionaries and delivers results on user-friendly pages with many functionalities.

Features:

• 9 component dictionaries/encyclopedias: general dictionary/thesaurus (powered by The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition and Collins Essential English Dictionary, Second Edition), medical dictionary (The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary, Second Edition; Dorland's Medical Dictionary for Health Care Consumers; The Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine, Second Edition; Mosby's Dental Dictionary, Second Edition; Mosby's Dictionary of Complementary and Alternative Medicine; and Saunders Comprehensive Veterinary Dictionary, Third Edition), legal dictionary (West's Encyclopedia of American Law, Edition 2 and The People's Law Dictionary), financial dictionary (Campbell R. Harvey and J. Paul Sticht's glossary and Investopedia.com), dictionary of acronyms (Acronym Finder), dictionary of idioms (Cambridge International Dictionary of Idioms and Cambridge Dictionary of American Idioms), encyclopedia (The Columbia Encyclopedia®, Britannica Concise Encyclopedia, and The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography), Wikipedia Encyclopedia, and Hutchinson Encyclopedia

• Daily featured content: In the News, Word of the Day, Article of the Day, Quotation of the Day, This Day in History, Today's Birthday

Site URL: http://www.thefreedictionary.com/

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Education Oasis: Teaching Resources for Educators

Posted on Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Education Oasis is a non-commercial site initiated in 2003 by K. J. Wagner. With a wealth of resources contributed by its users, this 'oasis' offers teachers the ideas, information, and inspiration they need in their profession.

Features:

• Assessment resources, graphic organizers, lesson plans, printable worksheets, and day-by-day guide to special events of the year

• Information and advice for beginning teachers, with a special section on classroom management

• Teaching ideas, tips, and techniques for teachers of different grades and subjects

• Articles on education and professional development

• Reviews of books for children and instructors

Site URL: http://www.educationoasis.com/index.htm

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Takako's Great Adventure

Posted on Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Takako's Great Adventure is a 10-episode interactive story that tells the adventure in Canada of a Japanese girl named Takako Akiyama. The story and all accompanying exercises, which aim to develop ESL learners' listening skill, were authored by Brian Rhodes.

Features:

• Each episode presented as a standalone unit with its own questions and exercises

• Full transcripts for learners to read while they are listening

• Difficult words explained in context

• Downloadable MP3 audio files and PDF text files (for some episodes)

Site URL: http://international.ouc.bc.ca/takako/

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America's Story from America's Library

Posted on Monday, May 12, 2008

America's Story from America's Library is a website by the Library of Congress where all people, especially young learners, can learn a great deal about America's history and culture and at the same time improve their ability to use English.

Features:

• Stories about famous figures in American history: US presidents, leaders/statesmen, activists/reformers, adventurers/explorers, musicians/composers, writers/artists, industrialists/entrepreneurs, scientists/inventors, and athletes/entertainers

• Stories about different periods of American history: Colonial America, Revolutionary Period, the New Nation, Western Expansion and Reform, Civil War, Reconstruction, Gilded Age, Progressive Era, Great War and Jazz Age, Depression and World War II, and Modern Era

• Stories about Washington, D.C. and all the states in America

• Stories about American culture: celebrations, vacations, baseball, quilting, and dancing

• Streaming and downloadable multimedia files (both video and audio) related to American history and culture

Site URL: http://www.americaslibrary.gov/cgi-bin/page.cgi

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Adele's ESL Corner

Posted on Friday, May 09, 2008

Adele's ESL Corner, by Adele Collins, is intended for new Australians but any ESL students can use the site's stimulating exercises to practice English free online.

Features:

• Site divided into easy level (with grammar, listening, and vocabulary exercises) and medium level (with grammar and listening exercises)

• A number of essential grammar points and vocabulary topics covered

• Printable PDF versions available for listening exercises

Site URL: http://www.members.iinet.net.au/~adelegc/index.html

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Reading in a Foreign Language

Posted on Thursday, May 08, 2008

Reading in a Foreign Language (RFL) is a free online journal that covers the two areas of reading and teaching reading in a second or foreign language. Besides research articles, there are also conference reports and reviews of books and teaching materials.

Features:

• Deals with a variety of topics related to foreign language reading, including course design, extensive reading, graded readers, lexis, the reading process, research methods, testing, and text analysis

• All previous issues accessible online, with the original print volumes (1983-2001) scanned in PDF format

• Cumulative index, which can be sorted by author, topic, and volume

Site URL: http://nflrc.hawaii.edu/rfl/

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The University of Victoria's Hypertext Writer's Guide

Posted on Wednesday, May 07, 2008

The University of Victoria's Hypertext Writer's Guide is a comprehensive handbook of writing and literature that can be used for daily reference by both university students and professional writers.

Features:

• Systematic introduction to all levels of writing: choosing and using words; writing clear sentences; developing and ordering paragraphs; planning, organizing, and presenting essays

• Assistance with writers' frequent tasks: acknowledging sources, preparing summaries, presenting arguments logically

• Review of the basics of grammar

• Glossary of literary terms (alphabetical and by category)

• Guide to marking symbols and grades

Site URL: http://web.uvic.ca/wguide/welcome.html

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Funbrain.com's Translator Alligator

Posted on Tuesday, May 06, 2008

The Translator Alligator is a game by Funbrain.com that aims to teach basic English vocabulary to children and beginning learners of English whose native language is Spanish.

Features:

• 4 levels of play: 1) choose the correct Spanish word, 2) spell the correct Spanish word, 3) choose the correct English word, and 4) spell the correct English word

• Tested words grouped into different categories: school, around the house, traveling, numbers and months, animals, people, food

• Answers provided instantly

Site URL: http://www.funbrain.com/lang/index.html

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The Medical Terminology Website of the University of Hong Kong

Posted on Monday, May 05, 2008

For students majoring in Chinese medicine, dentistry, medicine, medical engineering, and nursing, the Medical Terminology website of the University of Hong Kong is a useful resource that provides word lists and vocabulary-building exercises designed to familiarize them with essential medical terms.

Features:

• Explanations and alphabetical lists of common medical prefixes and suffixes

• Illustrated exercises for practicing medical word roots

• Multiple-choice self-assessment quizzes on general medical and dental terminology (with pre-test quizzes in PDF format)

• Guide to pronunciation of medical terms

• Searchable medical glossary, which provides definitions, IPA transcriptions, and audio pronunciations of medical terms

Site URL: http://ec.hku.hk/mt/

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Chalk and Talk: The Old Fashioned Way to Teach!

Posted on Friday, May 02, 2008

Chalk and Talk: The Old Fashioned Way to Teach! is the online reproduction of Brian Rhodes' in-class lectures on English grammar. It contains video lessons in which the teacher explains grammatical points using the traditional 'chalk and talk' method.

Features:

• Highly interactive video lessons, allowing learners to listen to explanations, read lesson summaries, see extra examples, and access exercises at the same time

• Diverse types of exercises: cloze, matching, multiple choice, mixed words

• Clarification of many problematic points of English grammar: verb tenses, the gerund, the passive voice, the causative, sense verbs (perception verbs), reduced clauses, the conditionals, the subjunctive, sentence connectors

Site URL: http://international.ouc.bc.ca/chalkntalk/

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Longman Exams Resource Library

Posted on Thursday, May 01, 2008

Longman Exams Resource Library provides teachers and students with a range of materials which they can use to teach and prepare for TOEFL, TOEIC, and Cambridge exams (IELTS, KET, PET, FCE, CAE, CPE).

Features:

• Exam descriptions, interactive activities, and study tips for students

• Techniques for teaching students how to do multiple choice questions and improve memory

• Directories of related Longman coursebooks

Site URL: http://www.pearsonlongman.com/exams/

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