Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Pre-GED, GED: Algebra Solutions Pre-Algebra and Algebra Solutions

The quality of sites available is always amazing to me. While there are some questionable sites, there are, by far, many that are extremely well done. This is one of them. In research for materials for a pre-Algebra student, I came across this site. Their information says:
'To find a solution, enter your math problem(s) and click on “Submit” for automated step-by-step solution.
To practice, click on “Practice” then “Submit” for automated step-by-step solution and answer.For a quick review of the subject, click on Mini-Lessons.
GoMath’s Mini-Lessons will guide you through the topics with graphics and examples. For additional practice off-line, click on Worksheet. All worksheet are in printable format.'

This is a great tool for students, instructors and tutors. You can enter an actual problem and receive a step by step solution.

Pre-GED/GED, Spanish GED: Pre-Algebra Pre-Algebra Edition, Glencoe

This is an interesting site, especially for bilingual students. It has a wonderful multiligual section on mathematical glossary terms and definitions: which defines them in everything from Arabic and Bengal to Taglog and Urdu, along with more common Spanish, Russian, Hmong and Vietnamese. I would think this would be very helpful in getting an ESL student to understand what mathematical term was necessary.
There is also a great section on USA Today related activities for pre-algebra and self-check quizzes
BrainPOPS are 3- to 5-minute animated movies that provide a clear and concise explanation of a particular topic in an engaging manner. While they are animated, they explain the terms very clearly, and students at all levels will find them helpful.
Overall, this site has a lot of excellent material done in an easy to digest format. I highly recommend it for former ESL students, Spanish GED students as well as any student who needs a basic primer on pre-algebra. It is geared to the Glencoe text series (which we have) but can be used with or without the text.

Monday, March 28, 2005

GED: Reading, Writing, Vocabulary and Math TV 411

This is a broadcast that airs in mostly mid and downstate Illinois, as well as across the country. The nearest station to Chicago is in Indiana. However, the website is quite good. There is a slideshow setting up the activity, and then it takes you through the answer and an explanation. There are 70 interactive lessons on reading, Writing, Vocabulary and Math, and some teacher resources. Even without the corresponding broadcast, this is a good site. There is also an online calculator, an online dictionary and toolkit, which are easy to access.

GED/ESL: English Grammar Grammar Bytes!

Billed as 'Grammar with an Attitude' this site has terms, exercises, printable handouts, and tips and rules for a lot of grammar. Many of our students will find this site fun to use, and you as instructors will find it academically sound. It does a great job introducing terms, defining them, re-defining them in an exercise format, and then allowing students to choose one of two answers. Answers appear immediately, and you can click on 'Get an Explanation' whether your answer is right or wrong. This is a particularly well done site for grammar.

GED/Pre-GED/Workplace: PBS Literacy Link PBS Literacy Link

This site requires a free registration sign up and password to access. It has some helpful areas, including:

  • GED ConnectionLiteracyLink Online is a dynamic, user-friendly system with practical tools for learners and teachers to use to support their goals.
    Learners can log on to, and
    take a GED practice test
    use interactive exercises that support GED content and skills
    explore Internet-based activities that include GED-style practice questions
    When a learner registers, he/she creates a personal profile, a home space with message center, and a digital portfolio.
    Find a broadcasts in your area.Order workbooks

  • Workplace Essential Skills Workplace readinessLearners can log on to, and
    use lesson objectives to set a goal
    watch a video clip online
    apply and practice using an Internet activity
    reflect and respond in an online journal
    When a learner registers, he/she creates a personal profile, a home space with message center, and a digital portfolio.
  • The workplace skills include communication at work, writing memos, employment strategies, reading and math in the workplace.
After you register and log in you'll go to your homespace where you can access lessons, practice tests and related activities.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Geography: US States

A friend sent along this website, which lets you drag and drop the states in the correct position, and gives you average miles of error, number correct, percentage correct and the number of seconds it took you to do so. It's a fun way to test your geography skills, and once you have some of the western states filled in, not too difficult.

ESL: Business English
English International Lyon

Basically a grammar site, but an interesting format. It's basically drag and place in the correct categories, but there are a lot of grammar skills, from present simple and irregular and passive to conditionals. This type of website will appeal to those students who prefer text-based programs. There is no audio, but the lessons are short, with a check button at the bottom. There is a 'Hangman' game that works on using irregular verbs.

ESL/ABE/GED: Public Speaking Public Speaking: How to Speak Better in Public

This is not an interactive site, but often our students are asked to do speeches to work on pronunciation, grammar and writing skills. There are excellent tips in here to deal with things like nervousness, 'microphone blues' and calming techniques. This could be quite useful for students who are preparing speeches for their classes or for graduation.

ESL: Business English Business English Exercises

I get some requests for ESL with a business focus. This website has quizzes and vocabulary that relate to business. There is a section on collocations (two words that are used together regularly) that is unique and helpful.

There is even a game of 'Hangman', though it does not strictly adhere to business vocabulary.

General Information: Online IEP's

If you come to the AELC in the afternoons, you may have noticed Kristy Laurx sitting at a computer and quietly reviewing web sites. She is working on the new online IEP project, and has just finished ESL level 5. The online IEP's will be similar in format and content to the current ESL IEP's, but will be housed on the computer desktop instead of the file cabinet. All of the skills sets content from the classroom texts will be cross-correlated with websites, and then installed on the AELC computers. To access the material, you will be able to simply choose the correct skill, click on the link, and it will take you directly to the website. In keeping with our policy of making technology as invisible as possible, you will not have to type in long URL's or look elsewhere for the information. This is the newest tool in our academic arsenal, and has a lot of potential for the future of the AELC.

One of the issues with websites, particulary academic websites, is the fact that they disappear as rapidly as they appear. The online IEP's will require a quarterly 'check-up' to see that the sites are still viable. While losing a site is disappointing, it is amazing how many wonderful sites pop up daily. This is a rich source of instructional material for the AELC, and is worth the little bumps along the path.

Until the online IEP's go live, you can find great academic websites on this Instructor Blog.

ESL: Pronunciation/Listening: Minimal Pairs American English Pronunciation Practice, Charles I. Kelly

Minimal pairs are always an excellent way to practice listening and pronunciation. This is not a fancy site, but it certainly has some good content and is presented in a straightforward manner. There are also tongue twisters that Americans remember from their childhood:
How much wood would a woodchuck chuck?
Rubber baby buggy bumpers
She sells seashells by the seashore.
The site requires the free FlashPlayer plug-in, version 4 or higher. It is downloadable from the site if you don't already have it. As with many websites, you need to have an adequately configured computer to access the more sophisticated sound capabilities. Sound on this site is very clear.

ESL: Pronunciation Academic Spoken English © 2000-2003 Kristin Liljegren Maurice

This is a very interesting site for learning pronunciation and American accents and slang. I wasn't sure what to make of it the first time through, but the more I explored, the more I liked it. Especially interesting was: from the section How to have a standard American accent. A character gives a bodaciously whiz bang job on the whole shebang, yada, yada, yada, and blah, blah, blah. The voice is excellent, but when you hear it, you wonder if we've been teaching the wrong language skills. Check it out.
Accent in Action on the same page gives a radio news broadcast of an interview with Alan Keyes and Sen. John McCain , and also provides the transcript and a phonetic accent.

On the main page,, there are some excellent examples of:

Word Stress
Phrasal Stress
Thought Groups (Phrasing)

The female voice is clear and easy to understand, and the accent is universal.

Another link is to an area where they explain the pronunciation of '-ed'. While there is no sound, the information is very useful.

All Things Considered is the NPR current broadcasts. They speak in slow, well modulated voices and it is a good practice exercise for higher level learners. Since these are current news stories, they can be used to stimulate discussion.

This site is a conglomeration of commercial and academic materials. It is not especially easy to navigate, but there are some real gems in here if you are looking for different ways to help students study English pronunciation.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

ABE/ESL: Printable Worksheets

There are some good printable worksheets for ABE and ESL students in the following areas:
Literacy and ESOL
Literacy and Numeracy
Numeracy (& mental maths)
Clip Art

Some of the sites listed are British sites, which are noted with a British flag. Use these only after careful review. British and American English differ greatly, and while some aspects of British English are indeed useful, others would confuse student unnecessarily. This is one of those treasure sites that you have to look through to find the gems.

ESL: Phonics : Abstracts : Reading/Phonics Phonics in ESL Instruction: Functional or Not?

This 30 page abstract is from the 1996 World Conference on Literacy, and was written by Monica Jones. There are some extremely relevant subject areas discussed, with a good base for understanding the pros and cons of teaching phonics in ESL.

This is another abstract of a project on ESL Reading instruction
"Reading Instruction in Adult ESOL Classrooms Introduction: The goal of my project was to review the research that is available on the best methods for providing reading instruction to adult ESOL learners and to distill these findings into a user-friendly guide for beginning ESOL instructors."

ESL: Phonics English is Soup!

Site was developed for adult ESL students. Done in Adobe/PDF, so there is no sound, which is very helpful with phonics. However, the lists are complete and easy enough to make a copy for students to take with them to study.

ABE/ESL: Phonics

There are two excellent phonics and vowel areas on this site:
Both of them utilize RealPlayer for sounds, which are very clear. The phonics page also has a great video on phonics rules. This is well done, and should be very useful for ABE and ESL students.

Check out the Wiki discussion of this topic in the Literacy Tent Wiki:

General Information: Adult Education Wiki Literacy Tent Wiki

A great new Wiki for Adult Literacy Education. This site has discussions on various disciplines from ABE and GED to ESL to Family Literacy. As a Wiki is always a work in progress (much the same as Blogs), check it often to see new additions. This one is very new, and is still short on content, but has an enthusiastic list of supporters, so I expect that it will not remain empty long. Check it out: Highly recommended.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Adult Readers: Purchase Site

These readers have good pictures to help with understanding the story. They include biographies, history and geography, non-fiction titles and others, all mostly under $7.00 per title. There is also a series of books on astronomy and space.

Adult Readers: Free Readers There are 30 free readers at this site, but they are set up for a book format and require you to print and assemble them in book form. Some are extremely low level, but others have interest for readers of all ages. You'll need Adobe PDF to access these readers.

Adult Readers: Short Stories/Low Reading Level Very Short Stories for Adult Readers

The blub on this reader is: "The book you are about to open contains a growing number of stories written for improving adult readers, by experienced authors . You are invited to read the stories and share them, providing you follow our guidelines.
Our stories are presented to you in two formats: continuous text and text interrupted by comprehension and discussion questions. Some teachers/readers prefer to assess comprehension as the story progresses; others prefer to read the story first and follow the reading with questions. Each story has a link to related questions."
The comprehension and discussion questions are good, and considering these are indeed very short stories, they are a great beginning for new readers.

Stories include:
Saturday Shock!
Long Day at the Cafe
Blind Date
Dr. Ocho
Real Men Go Camping

Book: Getting to Know Computers

Getting to Know Computers. By Mary Beth Lundgren. Cleveland, OH; Project Learn, 1997. Writers Group Books Series. Fry Reading Level 3. $10.50
.Excellent book that is available in both a controlled vocabulary version for new readers and a generic version for those who are computer illiterate. A keyboard insert makes understanding easier. Clear explanations of computer terms told in a nonthreatening manner. Excellent for ESL. This is an older book but well written and good for very low readers. Since it was a grant program, only limited supplies of the book are available. There are some available as as today, but you can contact them directly for additional information and availability:
Project: LEARN
1701 Payne Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44114
Phone number: (216) 621-9483
Web Site URL:

Adult Readers: Book Reviews

This listing has a lot of book reviews for high interest/low reading level books, and can be used also as a resource list for new reader books.

Adult Readers: High Interest/Low Reading Level Sources of high interest, low reading level materials for adults.

Geography: Political and Physical Maps of the World Atlapedia

There is always a difficulty in finding current world maps, given the state of change that the world has been in recently. This has quick, easy to find and understand maps of all parts of teh world, including state by state in the US.

General Information: Talking Tool: Awesome Talkster Awesome Talking Library

According to their Web page, Awesome Talkster combines a browser, directory, search engine, and text-to-voice technology. This allows you to select online text and have it read to you. Children can have the Web pages read to them slowly, but adults can have pages read at normal speed. Click Here for a Free Copy No Ads, No Spyware, No Trial Period. This is "Freeware," courtesy of Code-it. Keeping in mind the adage that there is no such thing as a free lunch, I downloaded a copy of Talkster after first running a spyware check on my computer, and then running the same spyware check after installation and use. I did not get any indication of problem. Disadvantages: it is a large program that takes a long time to download. If that is a problem, you can order a CD of the program for $10.00. Browse in Spanish, French, German, Russian, Dutch,Arabic, Greek, Italian, Portuguese, Chinese, Korean, or Japanese. It works on PCs (not Macs) from Windows 95 to XP.

Awesome Talkster can also make the Web more accessible to persons with impaired vision or persons with impaired ability to navigate a page with a mouse. It can be navigated with keystrokes. Awesome Talkster is very fast and has the largest screen area of any known browser.

Developed by Evaluation and Development Institute, Microsoft, Lernout and Hauspie, and Code-It, and Dr. Jerry Adams.

Spanish GED:Spanish Math: ESL and
One area in ESL that has a limited presence in the tech world is Spanish GED materials. These two sites from the Math Forum at Drexel give some good online materials in Spanish. These are lists of math online resources that are either bi-lingual or in Spanish. There are lesson plans, math lessons, problem solving experiences etc. If you teach Spanish GED, this could be a valuable resource list for you.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

General: Research: Adult English Language Acquisition CAELA, The Center for Adult English Language Acquisition

Finding adequate statistical data for Adult English Language Learners is usually difficult. CAELA is a site that offers statistics and resources for many of the areas, including:
Assessment and Accountablility in Programs for Adult English Language Learners
Adult English Language Instruction in the 21st Century
EL/Civics Resources
Health Literacy Resources
Adult ESL Practice in the New Millenium
Fact Sheets on Adult ESL
A Vision and Action Agenda for Adult ESL in the 21st Century

In addition, there is a new online periodical now available, CAELA Currents, that is a quarterly newsletter and can be subscribed to free of charge at and in the subject line writing "Subscribe CAELA Currents"
CAELA is funded by the US Department of Education, Office of Vocational and Adult Education.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

ESL: Website: Two Part Phrasal Verbs: Idioms Purdue University OWL (Online Writing Lab) program

Separable, Inseparable and Transitive two part phrasal verbs (idioms) There is a short lesson followed by a list of these difficult to understand phrases. Since these need to be memorized, this is a nice listing of the phrases with some meaning and context. There are also some good grammar handouts, and a short interactive section for spelling and grammar.

ESL: Website: Listening Skills The English Listening Lounge

This site has free areas and member (fee) areas. However the free guest area has quite a few good dialogues, at several skill levels. The dialogues center mostly around university life, but I like the fact that these are people speaking in real circumstances, and includes things like um and ah, which students need to hear as well. There are both male and female voices included.

Free Guest Area
Start learning English now! Go to a listening menu, and choose a listening passage. It's free.
New Listener Menu:- a good place to start listening. Regular Listener Menu:- if you are used to listening. Advanced Listener Menu:- for more challenging passages.

ESL: Listening Skills Listening Skills Practice
English as 2nd Language

Listening Skills PracticeGuide picks:
The Internet is the best place to practice your listening. This resource provides listening quizzes, interviews, specific English learning listening resources as well as where to go to listen, listen, listen.
Beginner Listening Pages For people who have never studied English. Or for those of you who are "false" beginners. Listening comprehensions include very easy number recognition, pronunciation and basic information exercises.
Lower - Intermediate Listening Pages Relatively easy listening comprehensions focusing on understanding general information, also included minimal pair work. Equivalent to the Cambridge KET exam.

This is a good program that gives a conversation and then has drop down menus to answer questions about the conversation. A negative for our students is that it is a British made site, and the accents are obviously British. I do like the topic areas, and the accents are not so strong as to be unrecognizable to Americans. Do review first, for situations that include mention of the cost of the item in Br. pounds instead of dollars. However, I have always found that listening to different accents helps students increase their understanding of English. Also, some ESL students come from countries where the British accent is much more common than American, so this may be helpful for them.

ESL:Listening Skills: Website Randall's ESL Cyber Lab

Listening Skills and quizzes in easy, medium and difficult levels. You will need to download Audio/Video Players for these listening quizzes. Real Player works if you have already downloaded that player. These are some that are general topics, others that are more academic topics and also a few longer topics for advanced students. Most have three areas of skill development:
. Pre-Listening ExercisesII. Listening ExercisesIII. Post-Listening Exercises

Some of these topics can also be used for workplace skills. Audio is clear and easy for students to understand. You can listen to it multiple times. A medium level conversation might be about two minutes in length.

Workplace Math: Website Workplace Math Skills
Marty Lundberg North Iowa Area Community College

It's hard to find math skills geared for the workplace, but I did like this site. It is a paper/printout assessment, but there is an answer key, and for students who need to focus on workplace math, this is done well. It's in Acrobat, so you need an Adobe Acrobat Reader (free download) to use. Areas include:

Addition and Subtraction of Whole Numbers
Addition and Subtraction of Shop Decimals
Addition and Subtraction of Shop Fractions
Scale Drawing
Metric Conversion
Ranking Decimals and Fractions
Answer Key

Math Skills: Compendium Website:: AAA Math AAA Math

This is a good free site for K-8 level math skills. It also include lessons on estimation, graphs, mental math and statistics. I tried the fractions and decimals lessons and found it easy enough to use to be effective for our students. There are good explanations of the math topics, followed by interactive practice lessons. This site has:

*Hundreds of pages of Basic Math Skills.
*Interactive Practice on every page.
*An Explanation of the math topic on each page.
*Several Challenge Games on every page.
*Math Problems are randomly created.

GED & TOEFL: Website: 4tests: GED and TOEFL Practice Exams 4Test is a free site with practice exams for both GED and TOEFL. With the exception of the essays, the tests are all multiple choice. Students can take the test and check their answers. This might be a good site for students still nervous about their ability to pass the exam.

GED: Website: GED ONLINE GED online organizational website. This has 2 good features for new students to the GED:
View a slide show of the GEDonline process.
Facts you should know about the GED
This is not a government site, and there is a $50. fee for registering. However, the information listed above is free and useful.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

General: Informational: Blog Search

The small white 'B' on an orange background or the 'I Power Blogger' symbol will take you to either the 'edit' page or the dashboard if you are a posted, registered member of this blog. When you get to the 'edit' page, (Click on the Blog title from the Dashboard) you will see not only your posts, but a box for 'search' functions. Type in the word you want to search for in all posts (eg: ESL) and it will list all posts that have the search word(s) in it. If you are looking for something particular (or an archived post), this is a good tool to have.

Software: Focus on Grammar Exceller Software, 1-888-848-3298

Despite all the new and glitzy versions of software, sometimes students prefer the tried and true. Focus on Grammar is one of those programs. It has stayed on top with our students and instructors for a number of years because it does what it says...the focus is on grammar. It's reasonably priced, well done, and the newest version is compatible with XP. Cost is $300/5 user license, per level. There are four levels...Beginning, Intermediate, High Intermediate and Advanced. This is a small company that takes care of its customers.

Monday, March 07, 2005

General: Informational: New Organization

I've gone back through previous posts and added a descriptive word or phrase to the post headings, such as: ESL, ABE/GED, ESL/ABE/GED, ESL TOEFL, Computer, Correctional, Citizenship, General and Service Website. I hope these target words will make reading the blog easier. I have purposely kept the list open to several disciplines, since many of the site overlap skill sets. If you have any ideas to further clarify the posts, please let me know. I'd like this blog to be as user friendly as possible.

Software: 2nd speech center

I have installed a trial version of 2nd Speech Center on system 28. This is a text reader for the visually impaired. It will time out in 30 days.

I was looking for something to read the text on the GED web sites and programs used in the center.

There are problems with the trial version that make it difficult to use for a person that would really need to use the product. It requires the text to be read to be placed on the clipboard. This means you need to be able to see well enough to find the text you want to have read.

There does not appear to be away to read text that is hovered over by the mouse pointer. This means it cannot be used to navigate a web site. It will only do a start to end read of the data on the clipboard.

If you have a text document that you want read the program has the ability to open the document in a tab and read that document highlighting (reverse video) the words as they are read. It can read these documents starting at the cursor or from the top of the document.

The voice choices are the standard computer generated voices most old time game players are use to (Think HAL). Pitch and tone can be modified.

The reader does not serve the purpose for which I was trying to use it. You have a few days to see if it meets a need I did not foresee.

ESL: Newsletter: Accent Reduction ESL PROSystems newsletter

Many students come to us asking for pronunciation help to reduce accents. They complain of not being understood over the phone, or of constantly hearing 'please repeat' over and over again. ESL ProSystems sends a monthly newsletter and has some excellent ideas for students to work on reducing their accents. I especially liked the idea of buying books on tape, and listening and reading at the same time. Also, we have audio recorders in the AELC to let students read text and then play back to the AELC instructors to critique with them. I've also suggested going to malls and listening to conversations at the stores. Websites such as 'Movie Trailers' (see the post, January 27th 2005 ) are also good to hear conversations in a normal tone and cadence.

ESL and Special Populations: Software: 2nd Speech Center Download: 39.95 Disk backup: 9.95

We sometimes get students who have specific needs due to hearing or vision problems, and are always looking for an easy, inexpensive solution to meet those needs. This program lets you listen to documents, e-mails or web pages instead of reading on screen. Materials to read are simply copied into the program, and then the program will read the text. It will also work for 11 languages besides English. It is intuitive to operate, and is within the budgets of most organizations. I am interested in hearing other perspectives on the ease of use and applicability of this program. There is a free trial that you can use to see how this program actually works and try it with the materials you want to have read.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Tool: Blogarithm subscription

To make things easier, I added a’ Blogarithm’ subscription at the bottom of this Blog page. You can add your email address to the box, and Blogarithm will send you an email when there is an addition to this Blog. There is no charge for this subscription.

You might also note that there is a site meter now attached to this page (at the bottom). This tallies the number of 'hits' to this Blog since I installed the meter two weeks ago. It's good to see that this Blog is being used!