ESL Teaching/Learning Resources


Resources for Writing  

Academic writing
Detecting Plagiarism
Graphic Organizers
Professional Writing (letters, resumes, email)
Online Writing Courses & Support
Mechanics (punctuation, capitalization, spelling) / Spelling/Synonyms

Activities for Writing Jarek Krajka's activities and resources Rita Zeinstejer's activities
Student E-mail & Web Projects Publishing Students' Work Using Online Discussions for Writing  

Resources for Writing

Academic Writing

The Corpus of Contemporary American English (COCA) <> -- by Mark Davies

Purdue Online Writing Lab <> (OWL) -- special ESL section at; writing resources for ESL students and teachers; includes handouts with instructions and exercises for all areas of general and academic writing, including essays, grammar and mechanics, the writing process, and more

PaperStarter <> -- links to resources for writing essays, including topics and theses, different types of essay, organization, grammar & syntax, and plagiarism

Writer's Web <> -- from the U. of Richmond's Writing Center; includes the stages of the writing process and writing in the disciplines, e.g. sciences and social sciences, French

Charles Darling's Principles of Composition <> -- links to exercises, sample essays, explanations on The Writing Process, Structural Considerations, and Patterns of Composition

The ESOL Essayist: Writing the Five-Paragraph Essay <> -- a tutorial with explanations, examples, self-tests, peer review handouts, and assessment rubrics; includes Teacher Resources (handouts in Word) with examples of scaffolding activities

SUNY Geneseo's Online Writing Guide <> -- includes GENERAL ADVICE ( What is Good Writing?, Audience & Purpose, Organization, Lucidity & Simplicity, Care & Imagination, Conventions of Writing), PROCESS (Composing, Writing Essay Exams), FORM (Formal & Informal, Grammar & Usage, Common Errors, Myths), REFERENCE (Research & Writing, Writing in a Discipline, Marking Key, Other Writing Sites)

Writer's Handbook  <>  (Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison) - Stages of the Writing Process (Getting Started, Drafting, Revising, Proofreading), Common Types of Writing Assignments (How to write literary analyses, lab reports, etc.), Grammar and Punctuation (How to avoid common mistakes),  Improving your Writing Style (How to write more clearly and persuasively), Citing References in Your Paper (APA, MLA, CBE, plagiarism, etc.)

Writing Help on Three Levels: Sentence, Paragraphs, and Essays  <> -- Good basic rules for intermediate to upper intermediate students

Adam Turner's writing resource web <> -- excellent guidelines for academic writing, letter writing, email format, TOEFL essay, resume writing, as well as grammar and citations

Web English Teacher <> -- Argument and Persuasive Writing, Autobiography, Biography, and Memoir Writing, Book Reports, Business Letters & Resumes, Creative Writing, Descriptive Writing, Expository Writing, Narrative Writing, Publishing Student Writing, Research and I-Search, Papers, Six Traits and 6+1 Traits Writing, Writing about Literature, Miscellaneous Writing Sites and Ideas

Elements of Style <> -- by William Strunk, Jr.

Odd Prose <>

The ESL Study Hall <> (by Christine Meloni)-- includes WRITING (Punctuation quiz, Writer's Web--online writing handbook--Writing Help for academic/business/technical/fiction/grant/online writing)

Integrating Technology Across the Curriculum:  Internet/Computer Writing Resources <>

Detecting Plagiarism

10 Sites That Check For Plagiarism <> -- review of free/trial/pay sites that check for plagiarized passages

Graphic Organizers

Graphic Organizers provided by
Education Place <> <>
<> -- 5 Main Types: Star/Web, Chart/Matrix, Tree/Map, Chain, Sketch <> -- General (topic-main points - supporting points), Cause-Effect, Storytelling, Misc.

Brainstorm Graphic Organizers

Comparison/Contrast: Compare & Contrast--aspects; Compare & Contrast: Similarities & Differences; Compare/contrast


Cause & Effect (9), Sequence or Chain of Events

Vocabulary Development and Concept Organizers
Descriptive Concept Map

Problem-Solution: 1 problem > several solutions; problems > effects, causes > solutions

Expanded Venn Diagram  (similarities/differences/overlaps)

Time-Order Chart

Character & Story

Research Cycle Concept Map
Research Cycle Cluster Diagram

Additional graphic organizers can be found at

Professional Writing
(resumes, cover letters, email, business letters)

CareerLab Letters <> - Letter writing skills for adult business professionals.

Saint Michael's College's Student Resource Center  <>  -- Writing a Resume; Resume Example; Writing a Cover Letter; Cover Letter Examples 

Adam Turner's writing resource web <> -- includes excellent guidelines for letter writing, email format

Writing <> -- If you work with adult business professionals interested in learning more about letter writing skills, visit this site and take them WRITE along with you.

Tank 20 <>

Writing Skills <> -- If you work with adult business professionals interested in learning more about letter writing skills, visit this site and take them WRITE along with you. Worthy of a visit. Great variety.

Online Writing Courses & Support

Marking Mate <> -- by Eoin Jordan and Andy Snyder from Xi'an Jiaotong-Liverpool University; site allows to check for language and style problems in academic writing

GrammarCheck <> -- checks grammar, style, spelling, punctuation; explanations available (paid version)

ESL Help Center <> -- 24 hour help to ESL/EFL students from ESL/EFL teachers

Intercultural Communicative Courses Online (created and formerly run by Ruth Vilmi)

DeVry's Online Writing Support Center  <>

University of Pittsburgh - English Language Institute <>

University of Maine Writing Center Online <>

Mechanics (punctuation, spelling, capitalization) / Synonyms / Errors

Punctuation Rules <>
Capitalization Rules <>
Rules for Writing Numbers <>
Spelling, Vocabulary, and Confusing Words <>
Grammar Rules <>
Free Quizzes <> -- quizzes on the items above

The Wordsmyth English Dictionary-Thesaurus <>

Common Errors in English <> -- absorbtion*; accept/except*; accidently*; adapt/adopt*; adultry*; adverse/averse; advice/advise*; affect/effect*; ain't*; altogether/all together*; allude/refer*; allusion/illusion*; alot*; alright*; altar/alter*; alternate/alternative*; alumnus/alumni*; amature*; ambiguous/ambivalent*; amount/number*; anecdote/antidote*; angel/angel*; anxious/eager*; any more*; apartheid; etc.


Voice tools <> -- SpellingCity is an online spelling program to help improve spelling skills; contains over 30,000 spelling words, including plurals, contractions, future and past tenses; uses a REAL human voice that says both the word and the word in a sentence; teachers and parents can enter and save their own spelling lists for their students/children; students can play games with their words or any saved lists; teachers and parents can save and share their lists; the forum allows teachers and parents to share lists and ideas

OpenBook Academy <> software for learning English

WordQ & SpeakQ <> -- software tool used along with standard writing software. WordQ suggests words for you to use and provides spoken feedback to help you find mistakes. Users of all ages who have problems writing and editing, particularly those with learning disabilities (LD), can benefit from using WordQ.


Worksheet Library <>  --  some free, downloadable worksheets, searchable by subject, grade levels, standards; worksheet for writing, e.g. cursive; sign up for a weekly free worksheet by email


Activities for Writing 
(see also Student E-mail and Web Projects below)

The Story Starter <> -- The Story Starter randomly generates 3,028,936,680 story starters or prompts. It can be used for short stories, novels, plays, scripts, or just for fun.

PIZZAZ! Creative Writing and Storytelling Ideas <> -- People Interested in Zippy and ZAny Zcribbling!

Electronic greetings -- select from the following to send virtual cards to friends and teachers: 123Greetings, American Greetings' free e-cards, Blue Mountain's free ecards, E-cards, some are animated!

CNN Interactive: Feedback <>

Biography Magazine <> -- has message boards on movie stars, historical figures, and even mythical and fictional characters, a wonderful writing supplement to a reading unit or course

Learning English on the Web <> -- Online activities are broken down into listening and speaking, reading with understanding, and grammar and writing.  In addition there are some great links to other ESL/EFL sites

All Kinds of Writing <> -- contributed by students to Topics Online Magazine < > -- Ghost and Spirit Stories, Personal Narratives, Poetry, Essays, Short Stories, Dialogs 

How Stuff Works <> -- This site has explanations for how all sorts of "stuff" works from the mundane to the exotic and provides simple (and often very interesting) resource information for descriptive/process writing (Michael Robb). <> -- A biography is the story of somebody's life.  At this site, you can find over 20,000 short biographies of famous people!  Just type the name of the person you're looking for into the search box at the top of the page. (Click on Features to play some interesting biography games.) PROJECT: After you read a few biographies, write a biography of your friend or classmate.  First, make a list of questions to ask.  For example, you might as where he/she was born, or what their childhood was like.  Or maybe you can ask about their family or an interesting hobby they have.  After you interview him/her, write down all your information into his/her life story. <> -- Do you write many letters? What kind of letters do you write?  Do you write about your feelings, or do you only write about things you are doing?  Do you use email to send your letters, or do you use a paper and pen? is a beautiful site that will give ADVANCED students (or students looking for a challenge_ a chance to read some very well-written letters.  These kinds of letters are called "literary letters."  The writer is like an artist who uses the English language to paint beautiful word pictures.  They talk about feelings and ideas.  Just click on the Fin to read Letters of Hope, the Head to read Letters of Reason, or the Heart to read Letters of Passion.

EnglishSpace <> -- Over 60 hours of interactive ESL lessons with the support of a virtual community of teachers and learners.  Within EnglishSpace, teachers moderate 'workgroups' - groups of six students who are geographically distant - and play a key role in learning support.   Activities include: sharing answers, creating questionnaires and writing projects with other members.

Going Places <> -- Going Places is an interesting TV show.  Their web site is a great place to visit if you like to travel.  Where do you want to go? Choose one of the five travel destinations.

CRAYON: Create Your Own Newspaper <> -- students can construct a personalized electronic newspaper, creating an opportunity to read on a regular basis

Internet Movie Database <> -- If you like movies, you'll love this site.  The IMDB is the biggest movie web site and has lots of great information about movies, movie stars, movie characters, and lots more!   You can use the search box to find information.  Just type in the name of a movie, or actor, or character.  You can even find movies that have a special quote or plot. PROJECT:  Choose your favorite movie or actor.  Use the search box to find information.  Write a short report about the most interesting information.  Now tell your classmates about your movie or actor, but don't tell them the name.  Can they guess what movie or actor you're talking about?

Jarek-Krajka's-writing-activities-and-resources (from Using the Internet in ESL Writing Instruction The Internet TESL Journal, Vol. VI, No. 11 (November 2000).  The following quotations were taken from the article.

Suggested Activities for Developing Language Skills:

Rita-Zeinstejer's-suggested-writing-activities (posted to on Sept. 19, 2003; reprinted with permission)

Barry Bakin's Lessons with ESL Action Photos -- multimedia grammar + writing projects

The Open Diary <> -- The Open Diary is a great site to practice your reading or writing.  A diary is a journal that you write in every day.  You can write about what you did that day, or you can write about your thoughts and feelings.  It's even a great place to write down new vocabulary or notes from class!  At this site, you can make your own diary, and write in it whenever you want.  You can make it private (only you can read it) or a public (anybody can read it) diary.  Your identity will always be completely anonymous (nobody will know who you are).  You can even make your own special design for your diary!

The Death Clock <>  -- The famous Death Clock will tell you the exact day that you will die.  It will even count down the seconds for you!  Just enter your birthday and sex, and the Death Clock will give you the bad news.  Check out the Dead Letter Room to read some interesting email.  PROJECT:  Of course, this site is not very scientific. The computer just subtracts your age from the average life span of a man or woman.  It doesn't ask you about your health or your lifestyle. But, IF you really could know the exact day that you would die, would you want to know that information or not?  Why or why not?  IF you knew the exact day, would you live your life differently?  If so, how would it be different?  Write a short report or have a discussion in class.

Celebrity Address List <> -- Who's your favorite celebrity?  Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, Meg Ryan?  At this site, you can find the addresses of more than 1000 celebrities!  The names are listed in alphabetical order. PROJECT: Find your favorite celebrity and write a fan letter to him/her!  Tell him/her why he/she is your favorite celebrity.  For example, you might write to Keanu Reeves, "I thought you were really great in "Speed."   Of course, if your celebrity is very popular, he/she might not actually read your letter, because they get thousands of letters every week.  But an assistant might read it, and if you ask for an autographed photo, you will probably receive one in the mail!  Read the FAQ for more tips on writing a fan letter.

Practicing handwriting  <> -- Practice your handwriting online.

Handwriting Resources  <>

Creating Digital Magazines / Newspapers

Tech&Learning, September 13, 2010
While creating digital magazines or newspapers can be done in a word processor, there are dedicated sites that elevate this art to a whole new level.

Top 10 sites for Creating Digital Magazines/Newspapers -- by David Kapuler

  1. Issuu  - One of the most popular and successful online digital magazine creators/publishers around, with a very nice user interface.

  2. Yudu  - Upload a document or PDF to create an online magazine that can be emailed our or embedded into a site.

  3. Openzine  - Very user friendly site with an abundance of templates and layouts to create a professional-looking magazine and share online.

  4. NewsCred  - Create a terrific looking online newspaper in 5 minutes, similar to Openzine.

  5. Scribd  - A very popular Web 2.0 site for creating online content and publishing.

  6. Fodey  - A fun site to create a newspaper and then download to print out or put on a blog or site.

  7. Zinepal  - A great way to bring the news to students by "clipping" online articles. This is a wonderful site for those making the move to ebook readers.

  8.   - A fantastic site to turn Twitter into an online readable magazine.

  9.  - Is a news aggregator that puts online news in one customizable place.

  10. Crayon - Create a professional-looking newspaper with this nice online creator. There are several options to choose from, so it has a bit of a higher learning curve.

Student E-Mail & Web Projects

E-mail and WWW Projects: collaboration on the electronic express <>

Student Web Projects ("Shopping for Necessities near Saint Michael's College," "Area Restaurants Recommended by Saint Michael's College Students," and "The Most Interesting Shops in Downtown Burlington") created by Christine Bauer-Ramazani's Intensive English Program students in summer 2000 and February 2003.  See them in their original form and published by Topics--An Online Magazine for Learners of English ( ) and read my discussions of these projects: "Integrated Skills CALL Unit: Student Web Projects" in Topics Online Magazine's Teacher's Corner and on the students' web site.  The students used ALL of their skills to construct the information--speaking with NSs for the surveys and interviews they did, writing in different genres/formats--note-taking, email, description, letter, etc., lots of reading and proof-reading, and of course lots of listening to each other and to the NSs they interviewed!

Class Projects in The Teachers' Corner of Topics Online Magazine <> -- Teachers share class projects and teaching techniques.

COOKBOOK <> -- Contribute/find delicious recipes from all over the world. Find out what people in other parts of the world eat

CLASS PROJECTS <>  -- Admire what others have done. Experience and enjoy collaborative work

International Writing Exchange (IWE) <> -- Ruth Vilmi's IWE offers a unique structured forum with international partners. The courses take place in the DiscussIt Moodle learning environment, and include both synchronous (Skype, chat, and webcasts) and asynchronous learning (forums and email). Learners are motivated by having culture-to-culture, person-to-person interaction. This, together with peer-to-peer and teacher feedback, improves their written and oral language skills. courses are taught in groups or to private individuals in a user-friendly environment, by local teachers and by our own DiscussIt tutors. All our DiscussIt staff are highly qualified with English as their mother tongue.

International Tandem Network <> -- Language learning in tandem partnerships

Publishing Students' Work

Below are online publishers that accept and publish students' work.

InterText: The Online Fiction Magazine ( -- contains over 200 mainstream, science fiction and fantastic stories by contemporary authors; submit your stories at

Topics Online Magazine for Learners of English < > -- Learners of English as a second language consider topics of interest to them, express their ideas and opinions and illustrate their writings and drawings and photos. Interactive features include readers' responses, teachers' viewpoints, language help, polls, quizzes and interviews. The "Looking at Language" link includes a discussion of Academic Dishonesty (Cheating on exams), with photos and related idioms. Ghost and Spirit Stories, Personal Narratives, Poetry, Essays, Short Stories, Dialogs; submit your work to

E-mail Projects -- -- An archive of ESL student writing, writing ideas and projects. Projects are developed by teachers from around the world and writing ideas can be downloaded and used in lessons and other language learning activities.


Using Online Discussions for Writing

Web-based discussion groups

Subscribe yourself to the following free web-based "course management tools" and try them out.  All of these offer discussion or message boards.  Several incorporate features that allow you to teach a whole class online, providing file-sharing, links-sharing, a calendar, voice chat, and more.  There are more free providers, but I've had the best experience with the ones below, in this order.

Yahoo!Groups has the big advantage that it gives the user the option to have postings sent out as email messages also.  In other words, students don't have to log in each time to read new postings and react to them.  They can do it right from their email manager.  To hold a threaded discussion, follow the same instructions as in 1. above.

Englishforum <> -- Comprehensive web portal with a wealth of resources for students and teachers of English (ESL/EFL). Interactive Exercises, Message Boards, ELT Book Catalogue, Good School Guide, Web Directory, World News, Learning and Teaching Links, Cool Tools, and more ...

Back to Christine's Links to Useful TESL/CALL Web Sites
Last Updated: February 17, 2017
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