Through the Keyhole

Looking for free on-line bilingual dictionaries?

Freelang dictionary is a free program to download for Windows. All wordlists are bilingual (from/to English), yet they also provide other combinations in localized versions (like from/to French or from/to Spanish). The program runs under all versions of Windows. It is freeware, and it comes without any adware or spyware. The online version works for all platforms, including Mac and Linux. There are 263 dictionaries currently available in Freelang!

ELT Resources and Publications

Spring Institute has many resources for English Language Training (ELT) that are freely available to the public. The resource library includes publications, articles, classroom materials, classroom activities and curriculum suggestions. For a list of all free ELT resources pleasse visit our resource library online.

New: Online ELT Lessons for Low English Proficiency Learners

Spring Institute is developing a simple online English training course for LEP learners. The lessons give small exercises for reading, listening, speaking (repeating) and writing around topics like numbers, counting, coins and job applications. More lessons will be added.

Please visit our online English exercises.


Livemocha is a large online language learning community, offering free and paid online language courses in 35 languages, with members from 96 countries around the world.

This website allows people around the world to help each other with language learning, and provides a learning community with opportunities to learn and practice new languages together. According to Livemocha, membership is at 11 million, with a simple, effective approach to language learning: the best way to learn a language is with help from real native speakers.

Livemocha instruction begins when people teach and learn from each other. Learning becomes more interesting when friendly people from different parts of the world offer their help and perspective. The site has the "world's largest community of native speakers" eager to help and learn from each other. And users get to contribute their own knowledge to help others.

Livemocha courses are focused on building practical conversation skills-every lesson includes speaking and writing exercises that are reviewed by native speakers.

To get started, learner must login using with an email account and a password. Learners can choose a level (beginning to advanced), choose a course, explorer and chat with people from around the world, and invite Facebook friends. And for a nominal fee, learners can sign up for private instruction sessions with a native speaker.

Audience: At least 13 years of age
Available for subscription: Government, education, organizations, library


If your classroom does not have internet access, ESLFlow is your website. Organized by skill (elementary, pre-intermediate, and intermediate levels) and topic (speaking, role plays, grammar, jobs and career, public health/safety), most of the activities are in PDF format.

Students can find plenty of materials to choose from. There are practice tests, reading and writing materials, and cloze exercises. Some of the activities include hard-to-teach grammar topics like gerunds, infinities, and passive tense.

For teachers, the handouts are well organized by topic. And each topic includes multiple activities. The worksheets, black and white to full color, are ready to use in the classroom.

Audience: Adult learners

Learning Chocolate

Learning Chocolate makes learning a new language "as fun as enjoying a piece of chocolate!"

The site is designed to help students memorize English, Japanese, Chinese (Mandarin) or Spanish vocabulary in an easy, fun way. The exercises use pictures, sounds and games to make learning enjoyable.

To get started, choose your language preferences. Then choose any vocabulary topic link from the homepage to start learning new words: from animals, sports, transportation, to holidays and jobs.

After reviewing the vocabulary, there are 5 review activities. The first 3 are matching games and the other 2 games help learners spell the new words. The activities are designed for beginning learners. The pictures are clear, and the activities load quickly.

Learning Chocolate:
Audience: All ages

English Zone

English-Zone.Com is a personal website, owned and operated by Kaye Mastin Mallory, an ESL teacher from California. This website began as a site for students and teachers of English, and then expanded to include native speakers of English, brushing up on their English grammar skills, and children looking for a safe and educational site to visit.

English-Zone.Com is a site for students who want to learn some idioms, practice with verbs, test their grammar, write a silly story, or visit links to other English sites. Do you know how to say "I love you" in Esperanto?

The Teacher Zone has printable pronunciation and grammar worksheets. This zone also has forms and rubrics for evaluating oral presentations, essays, and homeworks. The Idioms page has an alphabetized list of many idioms, with meanings and sentence examples. There are many links to other sites for teachers as well.

Those who love the English language will find enjoyable pages relating to English as a language, its inconsistencies, jokes, and other fun language nonsense, too!

Some of the links are for members only (requiring a username and password). But most are free. All the page designs, quiz materials and lessons are written by the owner, Kaye.

Audience: All ages

Story Archives

The CNN San Francisco bureau and Literacyworks are partners on this online adult literacy site that benefits all learners and instructors. Story Archives web-delivered instruction uses current and past news stories. Literacyworks works with the reporters and staff at CNN San Francisco and CBS 5.

The network has established a team of master adult education instructional designers to develop the stories and assessment activities. Stories are categorized from Adventure, Business & Economy, Crime, to Science & Technology and Culture & Society.

The Instructor Page includes steps on how to present the story. Each story has the full text of each story, an abridged version, and the story outline. The interactive activities test comprehension. It includes vocabulary and multiple choice activities.

The learner can choose to read the text, listen to the text, or view the broadcast through streaming video. The stories are Intended for adults with moderate reading and speaking comprehension skills including advanced ESL or non-native English speakers.

One of the activities encourages students to write down their thoughts, and then send an email to the site. Student responses are advertised on their site.

Story Archives:
Audience: Adult learners

Randall's ESL Cyber Listening Lab

Randall's ESL Cyper Listening Lab was created by Randall Davis who has a master's degree in TESL and taught English, intercultural studies, and computer literacy at several colleges and universities in the North America and Japan. In addition to this website, Randall has created several others including Daily ESL, EZSlang, and Train Your Accent.

Computers must be equipped with RealAudio Player and either external speakers or headphones. Headphones are recommended for listening to the listening exercises.

The site has several convenient features. The search page allows visitors to search by listening topic, by level of difficulty, by kind of speaker (e.g. man, woman, child), and by listening type (RealVideo, RealAudio, or .wav sound file).

The short listening exercises are divided into three categories -- easy, medium, and difficult. Topics include phone conversations, animal sounds, families, telling time. Each exercise has an accompanying multiple-choice quiz. When finished, students can submit their answers for scoring.

Students can also download entire quizzes and their accompanying sound files so that they can listen to them off-line. A bulletin board is available where teachers and students can post messages about issues relating to language learning in general and listening in particular.

There is a very useful section, Using This Site. This section has links for First Time Users, which include video tutorials to help first timers learn how to use many of the features of this site for learning and teaching. There is a link for Media Players, to introduce users to the three main playback options available for playing the audio and video files at this site.

Randall's ESL Cyber Listening Lab:
Audience: Adult learners

Voice of America Learning English

On October 19, 1959, the Voice of America broadcast, as an experiment, the first Special English program. The goal was to communicate by radio in clear and simple English with people whose native language was not English.

Special English helps people learn not only American English but they also learn about American life. They stay informed about world news, developments in science and technology, arts and entertainment, health and business. It provides listeners with information they cannot find elsewhere.

VOA Special English is unique. It has a core vocabulary of 1500 words. Most are simple words that describe objects, actions or emotions. Some words are more difficult. They are used for reporting world events and describing discoveries in medicine and science.

Writers use simple sentences that contain only one idea. Using the active voice, writers do not use idioms. Special English broadcasters read at a slower pace, about two-thirds the speed of standard English. This helps people learning English hear each word clearly. It also helps people who are fluent English speakers understand complex subjects. Students can listen to the audio or ready the story.

There are links to different programs: The Classroom, Activities, Idiom Dictionary.

VOA Learning English:
Audience: Adult learners

ESL Video

ESL video is a community-based website for students and teachers worldwide. This site has a large collection of short videos with corresponding quizzes on various topics, organized by language level (from beginning to high intermediate). The videos offer a window on the American pop culture -- videos include concerts, movies, current news, political stories, history, and home videos.

The site allows users to register, for free, to use the free Quiz Builder to create online quizzes for students, website, or blog. You can base your quizzes on videos from just about any video hosting website, as long as they are rated PG-13.

The home page is very engaging with five short videos (less than five minutes). As soon as you pick one video, the list of questions show on the right of the video, and the listener can answer the questions, while listening to the audio. The transcript is readily available with a click of the mouse.

The videos load quickly and short, less than five minutes. The images are clear, and the questions and answers are short and simple and the transcript is readily available.
Audience: All ages

Mango Languages

Mango Languages is an online language-learning system that teaches practical conversation skills for a many languages (English, Chinese, Hindi, Vietnamese, among others). Each lesson is focused on practical, common conversation skills and includes vocabulary, pronunciation, grammar, and culture. The lessons are developed by native-speaking teachers who understand the nuances of the language and the culture. They know what skills and information you will need at each stage of your learning process.

Mango's Library Edition is available in many North American libraries -- about 85 million library patrons (and growing every day). The Library Edition has a variety of resources to help patrons learn practical conversation skills for the world's most popular languages. Mango offers 22 guided language learning experiences in the most popular foreign languages, and 14 English language courses.

You can access Mango Languages Library Edition from anywhere you have an internet connection - all you need is your library card. Call your library for additional details on how to access Mango online. As a cardholding member of your library, you're entitled to unlimited free access. To find out if your library offers this free service, go to their website link Mango Languages and look for Library Locator, type in your zip code, and submit.

Mango Languages:
Audience: Adult learners

Mango Educators Edition is a subscription-based product offering for university instructors, media specialists and educational organizations. Mango Government Edition is a subscription-based product that offers specifically designed courses for government and military personnel needs.

ESL Professor invents robot tutors

Dr. Ron Chang Lee, an adjunct English as a Second Language professor at Pasadena City College, created two robots, Mike and Michelle, for his students to practice their English. Dr. Lee taught English in China before earning a master's in ESL and a PhD in educational technology at the University of Illinois. He started an ESL site as a class project in 1994 and kept adding topics and conversations.

The robots, created in 2007, can detect the 800 most common errors that non-English speakers make. Mike and Michelle know all the irregular verbs, provide different tenses, explain grammatical terms and give advice on how to learn English.

All users have to do is type in any question. The robots can correct grammar, answer questions, and converse on any topic. These tutors are available 24/7, and won't charge a dime.

Dr. Lee's site has become the top ESL destination on the web, combined with his

Tutor Mike:
Audience: Adult learners

English Language Training - Technical Assistance Center

Flyswatters Spring Institute, designated by the Federal Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) to provide English Language Training Technical Assistance, assists English Language programs in assessing their own effectiveness and areas of need in design and implementing performance-based ELT. It enables programs that help refugees to obtain employment and self-sufficiency and it helps teachers with challenges related to refugee mental health and cultural adjustment in the ESL classroom. Services include:

  • Updated Mainstream English Language Training performance-based curricula
  • Technology in the classroom
  • Pre-employability training for low-level learners
  • Working with elderly clients
  • Programs related to citizenship
  • Beginning literacy
  • Best practices and model programs
  • ESL curricula, techniques, methods and materials

Students 2011


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