In the post I will discuss two specific sites that are helpful, but before I do, readers should seriously think about expressing their thanks to those hard working instructors out there who truly want them to have the opportunity to practice out of class.
English Central: Learning English with Video
EnglishCentral is a Japan-based company backed by Google Ventures which "aims to become the premier, web-based conversational English language learning destination for desktop and mobile users." The site is designed to help students improve their spoken English by watching and listening to videos and then recording their own version of each phrase they hear. Currently there are 196 categories including daily life, social, health, education, environment etc. The site's speech recognition technology evaluates your performance and gives you a score. Each video has three levels of difficulty: easy, medium and hard. As things stand now, the site is free and lets hope it remains so. You do have to register, but this only takes a few minutes.
I haven't personally tried it out, but others who have tell me that although the system seems a little off at the beginning - probably because you are getting used to it - it seems to work well after several tries.
Here is another site you should take a look at [via Larry Ferlazzo]
Voice of America has had its excellent Special English section for a while now, offering accessible news stories for learners of English. They've now added a new feature: The Classroom. Here you will find Articles and Activities at 3 different skill levels, as well as an Idiom Dictionary and a Wordbook.
A very attractive site, which makes good use of Flash animation and sound. The only problem I have is that all of the articles (including the Advanced level ones) are read in
slow ESL speak. While this is helpful for lower level English learners, students at the advanced level need to be listening to material that has been recorded at native speaker speed..
Let me know what you think.