Useful Sites

All these sites are useful for teachers, and some can be used independently by learners. It all depends on the learner level. I’ll continue to update the page and welcome any gems you may happen to find.

1. Elllo (Online Listening)

This is an excellent site, which, as its title suggests, focuses on listening, but there are transcripts of the listenings provided. Useful graded material for teachers on a myriad of topics, with comprehension and vocabulary exercises too, but learners can use it independently, or as advised by their teachers.

2. New York Times Learning Network (Reading)

Another excellent site, focusing on current events and concerns. There are pages for teachers and learners, but because of the level of English, weaker learners would benefit from teacher guidance.


This is a complete site, with free reading and listening texts from those for absolute beginners, to a few with 8000 headwords. This is great news for teachers who are searching for texts to bridge the gap between most graded readers and texts for native speakers. Most GR series end at around 3000 headwords.  Teachers can track their students’ reading progress and there are optional quizzes. Very useful.

4. Very Commonly-Heard Proverbs and Old Sayings (Proverbs)

This is a quiz for which students would need a good knowledge of proverbs and sayings.

5. Randall’s ESL Cyber Listening Lab (Listening)

There are a large number of listenings on all sorts of topics, with quizzes and pre and post listening exercises. Very user friendly for students and teachers could use it too. As all the voices I have heard so far seem to be American, as are the situations, most useful for overseas students in the US or who plan to go there.

6. ITESL-J: Listening

This gives links to a variety of listening topics. They do not seem to be graded. But an excellent feature is a link to the Voice of America (VOA) which gives absolutely up to date news. There are other links to games, quizzes, jokes, language exercises: definitely worth investigating for teachers and learners.

7. Many Things

This is a sub-page of
The Internet TESL Journal’s
Links of Interest to Teachers and Students of English as a Second Language. A wide variety of topics including famous American speeches. Not graded. One or two don’t actually work.

8. BBC Learning English

A series of little playlets and dialogues introducing specific vocabulary for particular situations; the first one is about keeping secrets. This time the situations and accents are British. Graded.

9. Time for Kids

The articles on this site are graded by U.S. elementary school grade levels, but each specific article has a dropdown menu with three choices of reading level, as measured in Lexiles. These samples were extracted from “Kids of Kakuma” for grades 3 & 4, dated April 20, 2018. The current articles are free, but there is a subscription service that offers a weekly print edition and access to the Time archives.

L540 — KAKUMA, Kenya — Wild animals roamed at night. But Rose Peter still slept outside. So did the 19 other children she was with.

L660 — KAKUMA, Kenya — Wild animals roamed at night. But Rose Peter and the 19 other children she was with still slept outside.

L800 — KAKUMA, Kenya — Wild animals roamed at night, but Rose Peter and the 19 other children she was with still managed to sleep in the bush.

10. Adult Learning Activities by the California Distant Learning Project

While this project is no longer active, the material that was developed is still maintained through a grant from the U.S. Department of Education. The material is target to American ESL students, so there may be topics that might be irrelevant to students in other regions. No logging system is available.

11. ReadTheory

ReadTheory is a free site targeted to American native speaking learners. The site is “adaptive” displaying texts to the students at whatever level the site accesses them at, and increments their level slowly. Each short reading has a single multiple choice comprehension question. While the site does have a logging system, it is very idiosyncratic. The students actually have to invite their instructor to view their records rather than the other way round.

12. Wikipedia in Simple English

 Many of the articles are written using the 850-word restricted vocabulary of “Basic English”, while others appear to be written simply by the author’s intuitive feeling of what is “simple”. Thus the articles are not finely graded but rather ‘laundered’ to remove difficult words and syntax. Here is a site where teachers like you can actually contribute new texts!

 13. Project Gutenberg

This project was founded in 1971, and since then the project has grown from around 100 texts to over 56,000 according to their current top page. The texts are in the original language, so do not meet some of the criteria for graded, usable ER texts. Nevertheless, they are copyright free, so teachers can download and adopt them at will, perhaps employing ER-Central’s Text Helper <> tool to hunt out and simplify the difficult vocabulary.

14. (Pay site) Raz-Kids $109.95 per class.

Readings are set at 29 levels. A class can have up to 36 students. You can swap students in and out at will, although this would complicate the record-keeping function. There is a 14-day free trial. Many of the readings repeat at higher levels with more complex language.

15. (Pay site) XReading

Xreading is relatively inexpensive paid service that provides digital graded readers from many major publishers. The site provides a tracking function that allows teachers to see their current word count, their reading speed and how well they did on their post-reading quiz. Audio is also available for most titles.

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