ESL - Educational Resources for Teaching & Learning English

I.O.U.  —  Later, sometime in 2022, I'll revise this page (that basically remains as-it-was when I originally made it in 2009) including a check on all links to be sure they still work.  And I'll replace some of the links with newer-and-better resources, among the many that have been developed since 2009.   /   Also, when this page was written (in late 2009) I was co-teaching language classes for visiting students & scholars from China, so there are occasional references to the Chinese language and China.

This page supplements a page about ESL Resources that were developed in 2009 by me, Craig Rusbult.

What are your GOALS ?
This page assumes that your main goals are to improve your Conversational English — your skill in LISTENING (so you can understand other people) and SPEAKING (so you can be understood by other people).  Here are Four Modes of Language-Based Communication:





 on paper



 often scholarly * ;  visual (see with eyes)

 through air 



 oral conversation;  auditory (hear with ears)


 goal is to

 goal is to
 be understood 

 * scholarly reading/writing can be in journals or internet forums; 
   and reading/writing is also used for conversation, as in emails 

    Language Resources for your Self-Education
    If you want to improve any skill, practice is essential.  If you want to improve your English, a good strategy is to do "homework" that is designed to develop your own skills of self-observation so you can "give feedback to yourself" on your own speaking.  Similarly, for listening you can find strategies that will help you learn how to understand others during the typical fast-paced conversation you find in America.

    The 4 links below are not a thorough listing, they're just a few things I discovered in 2009 during brief searches.  Here are a few of the MANY language-learning resources for ESL that are available on the web:
    Word-Pair Practice for Speaking and Listening: choose a lesson (24 are available), click Start-arrow, then Practice (listen and then you SPEAK) and take the Quiz (LISTEN, then choose which word was said).
    ESL Videos by Jennifer (with "English Pronunciation Lessons" and four other categories in Playlists) are very high quality.
    video about two types of TH (unvoiced and voiced)
    a pronunciation drills-page from Encarta

    ESL Resources written by me, Craig Rusbult, are Conversation Skills and A Problem-Solving Strategy for Improving Pronunciation and Pronunciation Skills plus Temperature Conversions (from F° to C° & vice versa) and American Football Explained.

    CONVERSATION TOPICS — If you ever wonder "what can I talk about?" (in English or Chinese or other languages), LOTS of interesting ideas (in 140 categories, so there is something for everyone!) are at Conversation Questions;  and many other interesting ideas (for lessons, games, jokes,...) are in the top-of-page navigation bar.   {and you can find more by web-searching for [esl conversation topics]}

    WRITING CENTER at U of WI — high quality help from experts at UW: homepage & sitemap with information about classes (arranged by topic) & individual instruction (with 3 links to click + an Overview)

    DVDs:  Use these for practice so you can watch and LISTEN at a faster conversational speed.
    types:  entertainment (fictional drama), documentary, educational, ...;  movie reviews (of older "classics" with varying quality) not new modern releases; ...
    where:  Madison Public Library, UW Libraries (College or Memorial?), Blockbuster & Netflix, retail stores, ...
    tips:  use subtitles in English, not Chinese, so you can connect what you know about reading English with what you're trying to learn about listening to English (and speaking it) [but if you use subtitles, be sure that you depend on LISTENING to get the meaning, that you use the subtitles only for feedback, to check whether you are hearing correctly];  use the "stop" and "replay" options [this can be useful if you listen and then, after a brief reversal-for-replay, check the subtitles to see if "what you heard" matches "what you see" in the subtitle-text";  or you can reverse this order by reading first and then listening;  these DVD features (subtitles, stop-and-replay) are advantages of DVD (or internet resources), compared with TV or radio.

    INTERNET RESOURCES FOR LISTENING:  a strategy of listen-and-read (or read-and-listen) also works when using Text-and-Audio with lessons (intermediate & with quiz & slow/simple & phrases for conversation) plus news stories from Voice of America (from an American perspective) (to read while hearing, right-click and choose Open Link in New Window) and China Radio International (from a Chinese perspective).

MORE WEB-RESOURCES are below after this outline of our ESL Class:

    Quiz about two types of TH (is it voiced or unvoiced?) -- but this is the only "pronunciation quiz" they offer;  it can help you understand the distinction between the two types of TH.
    When should you use the two types of TH-sounds? (voiced and unvoiced)
quoted from Doctor EnglishThe difficulty however, is knowing when to pronounce the voiced or the unvoiced “TH”.  This depends on the position of “TH” in the word.  In the initial position, the "TH" is voiced in function words such as pronouns, articles, and demonstrative adjectives (they, them, etc.).  In the medial position, it is voiced when followed by "er" or a final silent "e" (feather, mother, etc.).  In the final position it is voiceless with one exception: "smooth". [or "breathe"] 

      • Temperature Conversions from Celsius (Centigrade) to Fahrenheit, and vice versa
      • American Football Explained in a 1-page handout — and the next time this topic is offered I'll explain football in the context of a "story" that shows why Americans find this game so exciting, and why I think that (compared with other sports) football requires the most intelligent research-and-analysis in order to plan strategies and make decisions in the battles of offense-versus-defense.  But it also can be a dangerous sport, physically (for knees,...) and mentally (with concussions,... which are becoming more of a concern, and this is warranted).

This resources page (written by Craig Rusbult) is