ESL Resources

English language learners are an ever growing part of school and library populations.  There are many resources available to assist these learners as they learn to read and speak English.  I remember the first time I had a student come into my fourth grade classroom that did not speak a word of English.  The school where I taught only had a part time ESL teacher who happened to be at another school that day.  I was terrified.  Thankfully I had another student who was bilingual and could translate beautifully.  We made it through the first day, but I was still clueless as to how I was going to help this new student learn to speak English while I still taught my other 20 students.  I ended up pulling resources from the ESL teacher and used many bilingual books from the library, but I hate to say that I feel I did not provide that student with the best resources available to learn English.  

I now work in a school that has a very large ESL population with two full time ESL teachers.  These teachers are fabulous at what they do and provide resources for students, parents, and teachers.  Because I was once in that situation (not knowing what to do with my new ESL student), I think it is extremely important to know about the ESL resources that are available to you.  

Here are just a few I have found to be helpful: 

1.  Lanternfish:  This is an online resource for teachers.  There are downloadable crosswords, wordsearches, flash cards, worksheets, and phonics resources.  I get excited just going to this site because there are so many things for me to download and actually put to use in the classroom.  All of the resources are geared towards English language learners and vary in difficulty.  

2. Vocabulary.co.il: This site has many sections that help students improve their vocabulary skills.  The English Language Games are specifically for English language learners.  These are interactive online games that students can play on their own and are fairly simple to learn to play.  The only problem with the games is that the actual screen for the games is small.  Examples of some of the available games are English Word Recognition, Find the Synonym, Idioms Game, and many different sight word and matching games.  

3.  ESL Games:  This is definitely my favorite of the three.  This website has interactive games for kids to play on their own and games for teachers to use in whole group activities.  The screen size is good and the games are really fun.  There are grammar games, vocabulary games, and interactive pronunciation exercises.  If you were only going to check out one of the three resources I've recommended, I would definitely take a look at this one. 

While there are many other online ESL resources, I hope these will at least help you feel at ease when that first ESL student walks through your doors! 

Adolescent Lit. Review: Looking for Alaska by John Green

Looking for Alaska is John Green's debut young adult novel.  It won the Printz Award in 2006 which is an award for a book that "exemplifies literary excellence in young adult literature." Green also received a Printz Honor in 2007 for his novel An Abundance of Katherines.  Other YA books written by Green include Paper Towns and Will Grayson, Will Grayson


Sixteen year old Miles "Pudge" Halter, who has a talent for remembering famous last words, is in search of the "Great Perhaps." He is done with his boring,  friendless life in Florida and decides to follow in his father's footsteps by enrolling at the Culver Creek Boarding School.  Upon arrival, Miles meets his roommate Chip Martin, known as The Colonel, who is extremely poor, but a genius.  The Colonel's best friend, Alaska Young, lives down the hall and has managed to get almost every one of her male friends to fall in love with her.  Alaska is creative, beautiful, and extremely intelligent.  The Colonel and Alaska introduce Pudge into the world of smoking and drinking and also show him how to pull of the best pranks.  They go to class, cut up, and live life together until tragedy strikes.  

"How will I ever get out of this labyrinth?" -  Simon Bolivar

This is a question Alaska asks throughout the novel.  As the characters deal with tragedy (you will have to read the book to find out about the details), the author John Green, addresses issues of grief and suffering.  While this is a sad book, it is a great book about life and suffering.  Because it is YA, this is also a book that many young adults can relate to. 

Recommended for Grade 9 and up. 

What's Next:   I have read that there is potential for this novel to be made into a movie.  The characters from this novel would definitely make a great film!