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Teaching Young Learners

Posts on the ins and outs of Teaching Young Learners

Friday, May 4, 2012

Practice English Listening Skills Online


I discovered Storyline Online a few years ago when I was teaching Young English language learners in 3rd grade. I was trying to find English books online that were read aloud to improve their reading, listening and pronunciation skills.  My Young Learners loved it because they were popular books they had seen before and they liked seeing the famous actors reading these books.

Storyline Online, is an on-line streaming video program featuring SAG members reading childrens books aloud!   Each book includes accompanying activities and lesson ideas.  Actors read popular Young learner picture books like "Rainbow Fish", "Stellaluna" and many more. You have the option of having captions on or off which help Young English learners practice listening skills, while being supported by the subtitles.  These books have beautiful animated illustrations directly from the book. The Lessons and comprehension activities are great to evaluate students understanding of English and their listening skills.

I have used these videos with Young Learners as well as Adults and have had great success with them.

Raz Kids Online Reading


I've been using Raz Kids with my students for a few years now with nothing but positive results.  I have now started using it with my adult ESL students with great results also.  At first I was not sure if the adults would like the stories because they are targeted to children, but up to now none of them seem to mind.  They love the fact that they can read at their level.  The other feature of Raz Kids that my ELL students love is being able to listen to the stories while they read them.  Since listening skills are what most of my students have difficulty with Raz Kids gives them excellent practice on this.  It is also an excellent way of practicing the correct pronunciation of words.
Words are highlighted in red as they are read out loud.
COMPREHENSION
The comprehension part of Raz Kids is also a great feature, because it makes students responsible for what they are reading.  It tests vocabulary, recall, inference, details and more.  Students have to get 100% on the quizzes in order to move up to the next reading level.  The non-fiction comprehension tests are pretty challenging.

LEVELED BOOKS
The differentiated reading instruction of Raz Kids animated leveled books is invaluable.  The levels available start from AA through Z level.  AA level is for beginning readers and the Z level is for fluent readers with higher comprehension skills (5th grade native English speakers)  Each level has about ten books both fiction and non-fiction.  Students can: Listen to books for modeled fluency.  Read books with pronunciation and vocabulary support.  Words that may be higher than the students level are clickable and Raz Kids can either read the word out loud or in higher levels give them a definition of the word.

RECORD STUDENTS
Students can also record their reading and the teacher can listen to the recordings to evaluate the reading.  You can also use this as a measurement of their reading or pronunciation improvement.

Try it out and let me know how it goes with your students.

Starfall.com




Starfall is a great online free software that allows kids to learn to read in English with phonics in a fun way.  It has great graphics and activities. The animations and sounds are wonderful.  One of the features is the English alphabet where students can learn both the name of the letter and it's sound as well as pictures of words that have that sound in them and even simple games to test what they have learned.


As children learn the different letters they can progress through learning English words with other phonics sounds. For children that are emergent English readers Starfall has simple stories that children can read on their own and for words they can't read or pronounce it gives them the opportunity to click and have the words read to them. Starfall has different sections which children can progress through or can start on depending on their English level. The more advanced section has plays, nonfiction reading, comics and more.  The best thing about Starfall is that children enjoy it and if they are having fun they are learning.


My daughter began to use Starfall when she was two when the only language she knew was Spanish.  Starfall helped her develop her English vocabulary.  By the time she was 6 years old she was reading at 4th grade level (in part thanks to Starfall.)  She loved listening to the phonics songs and listening to the phonics books.  She still enjoys going to Starfall for its poems and activities. 

I used Starfall with my 1st grader English Learners who where having a difficulty with reading and they love it.  It gave them a chance to learn new English words and practice reading the words they new how to read while supporting them with those they didn't know.  They also loved the animations and the games.