ESL Resources for Students and Teachers

09 Jun 2020

With all the abbreviations we encounter on a daily basis, it is easy to get lost and confused, especially when it comes to the English language for foreigners. The list of acronyms can go on and on, but today, we are going to focus on such acronyms as ESL and ELL to make things a bit easier to comprehend. To put it simply, ESL stands for English as a Second Language, and ELL stands for English Language Learners. 

In either of those cases, the learner does not speak English in their first language, and the task of the teacher is to improve the English language proficiency among the learners. There are different levels of proficiency, and each of those would require a slightly different approach from the teacher and a different amount of effort from the learner. Today, we are going to go deep into this topic and figure out what ESL and ELL are and what’s going to happen as you progress through different levels of language proficiency. 

ESL Levels

There are several proficiency levels distinguished for any language, and the second language learner is expected to move gradually from the lowest level up to the highest proficiency level. As much as with any other language, in English, there are several standard proficiency levels, and the learner has to pass specific standardized testing to officially prove their command of the language on a particular level. 

Level Description
Beginner This is the first and the starting point at which the learner has no previous experience with the language, cannot comprehend it, cannot read it, and cannot speak it. Simple as it sounds, this is the level at which you have no idea what is going on whenever you hear the language, but there is a caveat to the definition of the beginner. There also exists a type of learners called False Beginners – the learners who have been exposed to the language in the past, tried to learn it before, or were surrounded by the language for a prolonged period of time.
Elementary Level (A1) The student starts to understand basic phrases, possesses a limited vocabulary, and can understand simple instructions. The student is also capable of having the smallest and the simplest interactions using incomplete sentences and separate words. This is where the learner starts to use the language on the most basic level.
Upper-Elementary Level (A2) At this level, the student can use simple sentences, write them, and participate in conversations of direct relevance. The command of language and the vocabulary are still rather limited, but the student can already use the language to communicate with other people on a basic level.
Lower-Intermediate (A2-B1) A student comprehends the language when listening to some general information and reading non-specific texts. Usually, the student might have difficulties when talking about specific topics but can both understand and provide basic information in either written or spoken form.
Intermediate (B1-B2) A student can understand complex texts and participate in a spontaneous conversation without preparations. At this point, a student is expected to make grammar mistakes and have limited vocabulary but still be able to maintain meaningful conversations.
Upper-Intermediate (B2) A student can understand an everyday language nearly perfectly. Though some mistakes are still expected, a student can speak, write, and read nearly fluently, which means the student no longer needs to use their native language in the process of learning. A student can articulate almost any ideas in either spoken or written form and communicate with the native speakers without any strain.
Advanced (C1) A student understands nearly everything. Obviously, the student can communicate fluently in either written or spoken form, discussing specific topics.
Proficiency Level (C2) This level can be achieved during a prolonged stay abroad. At this point, the student has full command of the language, which includes professional terms and idioms. In some cases, the students might even possess a greater knowledge of the language than native speakers.

Main Terms

There are several terms and acronyms that might be confusing to the students who’ve just begun their journey, which does not make things much easier when you can barely understand anything. So, here’s a shortlist of terms and abbreviations that are used in English as a Second Language learning programs:

EFL – This is the same as the ESL, but it stands for English as a Foreign Language. Some educational institutions use this acronym, but that is the same thing.

TESL – Teaching English as a Second Language. This is the term that describes a person who teaches English to foreigners. This term can be applied to private teachers, public school teachers, private school teachers, and online teachers.

TEFL – Teaching English as a Foreign Language. This is similar to the TESL, but this term is most commonly used to refer to the teachers working in the countries where English might be used widely but does not act as the first official language. 

ESOL – English to Speakers of Other Languages. This is the term referring to the programs for the learners of English as the Second Language. There are all sorts of ESOL programs that are targeted at foreigners trying to learn English or increase their proficiency level. These programs start from the beginner level and go all the way up to the C2 Proficiency. If you see this abbreviation, just know that it refers to the relevant program you use to learn the language. 

ELL – English Language Learner. This term usually refers to an individual who already has some background in learning the language and currently continues education using a particular program. The slight difference between the ESL and ELL is that ESL does not specify whether the student studies language right now, while ELL points at the student being an active learner of the language.

Top 20 ESL Resources for Students

  1. 20 Minute ESL Lesson – This website contains tests and lessons for the ELLs. The main benefit of this website is that it provides both learning materials and assessment materials, which you can later use to test your knowledge.
  2. Quizzes With Pictures – This service is great for the beginners and kinds since it combines learning the new words with visuals, which makes it easier to memorize all of that stuff. This service is mostly intended for testing your proficiency and would mostly be useful for beginners.
  3. Rong Chang – This is an online service that takes a rather straightforward approach by placing the learners in the shoes of the kindergarteners and taking them all the way up to full-fledged speaker level.
  4. Common Errors – This one allows the learners to see what the most common mistakes among the ESL students are and how to fix those.
  5. ESL Podcast – Podcasts are becoming an extremely popular medium, which is why you can listen to podcasts to learn the foreign language now.
  6. Real English – There are tons of video exercises on this website, so you can watch the videos, listen to the language, see people speak it, and then you can pass the tests.
  7. TalkEnglish – This website offers many listening exercises that are extremely useful for all levels of learners, so you can find the exercises that are most appropriate for your level.
  8. Learn English Today – This is the website where you can learn business English and expand your vocabulary.
  9. ESL Fast – This tool is helpful for the general development of your knowledge and skills in using English.
  10. Easy Reading for Adult ESL Beginner – This tool is designed for adults aimed at learning English. The tool is meant for people with at least some background in learning the language.
  11. Match the Picture – A simple tool for beginners and kids that uses visualization as a means to improve the learning process and stimulate memory.
  12. Vocabulary – Expanding your vocabulary might be fun, as this website suggests, so you can learn new words there and have fun doing so.
  13. Interesting Things for ESL – This website contains tons of activities and exercises for the students. These tasks go with tests, so you can try your knowledge out.
  14. Nonstop English – This is a standard website that contains learning and assessment materials for the learners.
  15. SpeakSpeak – The service contains valuable tips on how to use the language in real-life situations to sound more natural.
  16. World English – The website contains materials that can help the students learn business English and use in their professional life.
  17. ESL Galaxy – Here, you can find a variety of writing exercises that can help you improve your written English drastically.
  18. Purdue Online Writing Lab – This website provides materials for advanced learners including stylistic and formatting lessons.
  19. Parapal Online – This website helps the students learn business English by doing quizzes.
  20. ESL Gold Useful Phrases – Here, you can find a selection of commonly used business-related phrases in English.

Types of ELL Programs

  • Pull-Out Program
    This is a type of learning process in which the foreign students are being pulled out of their native language environment and placed into the English-speaking environment for the duration of the class. That way, they have no choice but to adapt and learn the language.
  • Early-Exit Program
    This program prepares the ESL students for entering the English-only academic environment. This program, for instance, is of huge value to the students who move to English-speaking countries where they won’t be able to use their native tongue to communicate at school. This program prepares the learners for such a dramatic change making this transition as easy as possible.
  • Content-Based Program
    This is the program in which English gets integrated into whatever subject students study right now. Let’s say, the students learn Math, so they would get English integrated into their lessons.

10 Best ESL Resources for Teachers

ESL Writing Wizard – This is a tool for the teachers that allows them to create worksheets in English.

Kenneth’s ESL Blog – this blog contains recommendations from teachers to teachers and students where you can find valuable information that can boost your learning up really good.

Busy Teacher – This is a P2P platform for teachers where they share free worksheets, learning materials, and just useful tips on how to teach your students. Tons of valuable information is available on this website.

ESL Library – This is the place where the teachers can find the literature on ELS learning. Textbooks are also available on this website, so be sure to check it out.

ESL Jobs Forum – This is an employment platform for the teachers. If you are looking for a job and have experience in teaching ESL students, you can find something here.

ESL Printables – On this website, you can find some of the best worksheets and learning materials.

TELF Tunes – This is the tool that can help you find songs in English that fit the vocabulary you need to introduce to the children. This is extremely fun to learn new stuff through music, so you should check it out.

Make Belief Comix – This is the tool that allows you to create short comixes in English or any other language. This is great for the teachers who want to bring a touch of art into their classrooms.

ESL Video – This is a video hosting, similar to YouTube, but aimed at learning English.

ESL Games World – There, you can find games that make learning English more interactive and more exciting.

Wrap Up

Learning a second language is always a challenge, but it surely gets easier as you go. The first day of learning the new language is the hardest, the second day of learning is the second hardest, and so on. What you need to do is pull yourself together and start your journey toward knowledge. Give it a shot, start learning a new language, and in a matter of year or so, you will be a different person. Learning a new language can be a new step in your career, a life-changing experience that can bring you new opportunities and even new friends from around the world.