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Developing Listening & Speaking Skills Online

8th International TELLSI Conference
Al-Zahra University

Tehran, Iran
October 2010

Christine Bauer-Ramazani
Saint Michael's College
Colchester, Vermont, U.S.A.



The Internet has a wealth of resources to aid in the development of oral skills, both for teachers and learners.  From my over 7000-links-compendium I have selected sites that you can integrate into your classes for listening, speaking, and pronunciation practice.  In this hands-on workshop participants will experience audio and video resources for listening development, try out text-to-speech programs, and experiment with some free audio and video recording tools that teachers and students can use for interaction and collaboration on projects.

Resources for Listening: highlights from Christine's Links to Useful TESL/CALL Web Sites--ESL Teaching / Learning Resources for Listening (http://academics.smcvt.edu/cbauer-ramazani/Links/esl_listening.htm)

Language Learning

  1. Randall's ESL Cyber Listening Lab <www.esl-lab.com/> -- an amazing collection of audio/video lectures for all levels of listening comprehension, together with self-tests and answers
  1. Real English <http://real-english.com/reo/index.html> -- on-line video, audio, and voice lessons with fill-in, multiple-choice, matching questions based on spontaneous street interviews; useful for Oral Interaction from Beginner to Intermediate level
  • Pre-intermediate: Lesson 7 - What's your astrological sign? This lesson concentrates on a great deal of useful vocabulary while introducing like as an adverb.  See it with and without subtitles in one clip.
    • Lesson 7 Vocabulary: Vocabulary Exercises 1-4 with pictures, audio and voice recordings, synonyms, definitions
    • Record and play back your pronunciation of the vocabulary.  Click OK to download the Java applet.  Go to the Recording Support page for help.
    • Lesson 7 Comprehension Exercises: 14 exercises, each with a new video that expands the topic; cloze, multiple choice, comprehension cloze, drag-and-drop
  1. English Language Listening Lab Online <www.elllo.org> -- natural conversations with various speakers of English; over 1000 listening activities for all levels; includes new videos with video slide shows, script, audio vocabulary explanations and quizzes, vocabulary & reading comprehension questions (audio and written), listening games
    Types of activities: interviews, newscasts, surveys (Mixer), songs, mini-lectures/presentations (Talking Points), and listening games (for beginners)
    • Views: Example: Dream House
    • Mixer: six different speakers answering the same question; Example: What is your Dream Job? (intermediate to high-intermediate)
    • Games (listening): The picture quiz for the listening quiz is designed to help people listen for gist. The text quiz is designed to help students listen for detail.  Example: Aquarium
    • Videos: with or without closed captioning; good for note-taking and summarizing; example: Do you prefer to read online or offline?
    • Songs: with song lyrics; Example: Another River by Christine Havrilla
    • News Center: is an animated newscast with six stories. Newscenter can help students learn academic English and develop test taking skills for standardized listening tests such as TOEFL®, TOEIC® and IELTS; example: College Students
    • Talking Points: Example: The Mountain Lion -- activities that help students with test taking skills and academic English. Each listening activity is a mini-lecture or presentation divided into six sections. They are designed to be short talks to help students on standardized tests like TOEFL®, TOEIC® and IELTS®.

News for English language learners (audio)

  1. Breaking News English <www.breakingnewsenglish.com/> -- EFL/ESL news in British English with audio files (.mp3 downloads), free lesson plans, handouts, games for current events; topics include business English, environment, health, issues, lifestyle, people/entertainment/gossip, technology, world news

Music for Learning English

  1. Teaching with songs <www.isabelperez.com/songs.htm> -- song lyrics and activities for ESL, by Isabelle Pérez Torres; include matching, cloze, and other interactive exercises to practice vocabulary, grammar, sounds; arranged in alphabetical order by singer; link to IPA Fonts for downloading; phonetic symbols appear in some exercises.   

  2. ESL Video.com <http://eslvideo.com/index.php> -- songs and other activities with video clips at beginning/low-intermediate/intermediate/high-intermediate proficiency levels, quizzes for listening comprehension, transcripts, and notes on culture, grammar, slang, pronunciation; quiz builder included

Resources for
top picks from
Christine's Links to Useful TESL/CALL Web Sites--ESL Teaching / Learning Resources for Speaking (http://academics.smcvt.edu/cbauer-ramazani/Links/esl_speaking.htm)

  1. VoiceThread <http://voicethread.com/> -- free to use with registration for an account.  The following links lead to explanations, examples, and video tutorials.
    With VoiceThread, group conversations are collected and shared in one place from anywhere in the world. All with no software to install.  A VoiceThread is a collaborative, multimedia slide show that holds images, documents, and videos and allows people to navigate pages and leave comments in 5 ways - using voice (with a mic or telephone), text, audio file, or video (via a webcam). Share a VoiceThread with friends, students, and colleagues for them to record comments too. VoiceThreads can even be embedded to show and receive comments on other websites and exported to MP3 players or DVDs to play as archival movies.
  2. Voxopop <http://www.voxopop.com> -- Create talkgroups for voice-threaded discussions (http://www.voxopop.com/newgroup .
  3. Audacity <audacity.sourceforge.net/download/> -- [1.5Mb] click to download this free, cross-platform software to record, amplify, fade, edit, copy, paste etc; converts audio files to .mp3 format.
    Important note: Download the Lame client in order to process the conversion to .mp3 files.  Select Export to .mp3 to save a file in this format.

Resources for
Pronunciation: top picks from Christine's Links to Useful TESL/CALL Web Sites--ESL Teaching / Learning Resources for Pronunciation (http://academics.smcvt.edu/cbauer-ramazani/Links/esl_pronunciation.htm)  

  1. Pronunciation on TeacherTube

  2. ESL Pronunciation Lessons on YouTube (American English)

    • TH pronunciation English Meeting ESL Lesson -- articulation, examples, words and sentences with sound highlighted (10:58 min.)

    • Past Tense Regular Verbs -- explanations, examples (2:46)

    • Word Stress -- counting syllables, phonetic transcription, spelling, exercises, examples in native speaker speech (10:28)

    • Intonation -- meaning in communication, falling intonation patterns, examples, illustration (8:18)

    • Accent Reduction: Final sounds -- voiceless, voiced sounds, word pairs, strategies for pronunciation (5:41)

  3. Phonetics Focus and Flashcard Maker <www.cambridgeenglishonline.com/Phonetics_Focus/> -- all phonemes with phonetic script and sounds, flashcards, Entry/Exit Tests, Phonemic Chart, games

    • Phonemic Chart > Phonemic Flip > Which Phoneme? > Phon' Chart Quiz for consonants, vowels, dipthongs (drag and drop) > Record and Practice (requires download) > Phonemic Hangman: practices sound-symbol relationships (recognition of IPA and spelling of words)

  4. Phonetics: The Sounds of English <www.uiowa.edu/%7Eacadtech/phonetics/#> -- animated sounds, with side view and articulation in front view videos, plus audio samples of initial, medial, final occurrence (Flash 7 required); University of Iowa

    • American English > Consonants > Fricative > sh > Play

  5. The Sounds of English and the International Phonetic Alphabet <www.antimoon.com/how/pronunc-soundsipa.htm> -- with audio (.mp3) of minimal pairs, some for both American and British English

© 2010: Christine Bauer-Ramazani; last updated: July 09, 2017