by Celeste Coleman
Do you want to spend your time online more productively? These free web resources are every English language learner’s dream come true!
Writing and Grammar
Purdue OWL: This website is Purdue University’s Online Writing Lab. The materials are free for anyone to access. They are useful for native speakers of English and for non-native speakers. You can get a lot of tips about how to improve your writing, including how to organize effectively, how to cite your sources,and how to use more complex grammar. You can access the site at owl.english.purdue.edu.
Many Things: This website has many different types of resources for ESL students, but my favorite is the pronunciation section. It might look a little old, but it is still very useful. It gives numerous exercises and tips about how you can make your pronunciation sound more like a native speaker’s. You can visit the site here: http://www.manythings.org/pp/
Free Rice: On this website, you can practice your English vocabulary in a fun, interactive game. A word comes up on the screen, and you have to pick the closest synonym to that word. For every one you get correct, Free Rice donates 10 grains of rice to the United Nations World Food Program to help hungry people around the world. You can see your bowl of rice growing as you play, so you have the satisfaction of knowing you are helping others while helping yourself. (This is real rice for real people, not pretend!)The game also learns about your level, so it doesn’t give you words that are too easy or too difficult.Check it out at http://freerice.com/.
You might wonder, “Why should I spend time on typing? I can already type in my native language.”Actually, knowing how to type in your native language is helpful, but it can only get you so far. The way the letters are laid out on the English keyboard is strange: Q is next to W, N comes before M, and Z is somewhere in the middle! For that reason, it takes careful practice to be able to type quickly in English,even for native speakers. Typing speed is important, since some timed writing tasks you encounter in the future (like on the TOEFL or in your university classes) must be typed, not handwritten. Want to see if your typing speed is where it needs to be so that you can write down your ideas quickly enough? You should try Typing Test, http://www.typingtest.com . It’s simple: you type for one minute, copying a text that is provided. The program evaluates both your speed and your accuracy. You want your typing speed to be around 50 words per minute and your accuracy close to 100%. Many international students are shocked to find out that their score is much lower than that. What can you do to improve? One handy tool is the tutor at Typing.com. This website has many lessons from beginner to advanced. They will teach you howto place your hands properly and which fingers to use for which keys. It will take some practice, just like learning a new sport, but if you keep up the effort, soon you too can be typing quickly without looking at the keyboard.
I hope you’ve enjoyed learning about some of the great resources available online to students like you. Coming up soon on our blog, look for my article about cool smartphone apps you can try!