Free English and ESL Resources for Reading and Literacy

“Oh no, not reading time!” Help your students avoid boredom by making reading interesting and fun, whether it’s the beginning of the alphabet or analysis of news stories. This article gives you some great sites, many of them interactive and all with free resources, to teach reading in your classroom or improve your own reading skills. The author has scoured the web looking for the best resources to share with English learners and teacher trainees. Don’t waste your time searching when you find so many great sites below. Literacy related resources are at the end.

CNN: News Stories

Archived and current news stories for adult literacy. A great source for authentic and interesting texts. Each story has a complete version, an abridged (easier) version, word-based questions, multiple choice, sequencing activities, and more. This is one of THE best sites for adult literacy on the web. There’s even a chance to weigh in your thoughts on the articles and interact with other learners.

BBC Skillswise: Skimming

A great website with an overview of the skill, practice tests, a worksheet and tutor tips. Excellent for middle school and high school students or teachers, or anyone practicing for IELTS.

BBC Skillswise: Scanning

Another excellent resource complete with a factsheet, three levels of practice quizzes, a worksheet, tutor tips and an interactive game.

Timed Skimming Practice Exercise

Want to integrate technology in your classroom? Sign up for the computer lab and have your students do a timed skimming practice test. You can offer prizes for the quickest reader who gets the most questions correct.

Online Speed Reading Comprehension Test

Here you can learn about speed reading techniques as well as test your own speed and reading comprehension.


Explanation of Efficient Reading Skills with Scanning & Skimming Exercises

Basic explanation of the skills and a link to several focused exercises.

The Polliwog Journal

This blog is dedicated to integrating English and technology. Along with cool posts and ideas about using technology in your classroom, there’s a great list of other English teacher blogs on the right hand side.

Beginning Readers: Teaching Phonics

This site gives an in depth description of how to teach reading using the phonics approach. Click on “Free Worksheets” to get material you can use in your K to 3 class for beginning readers.

Alphabet Worksheet Set

Here you can find adorable worksheets that are perfect for young students. There’s one for practicing every letter of the alphabet. Students can color in the pictures too!

Reading, Writing and Phonics Too

The PDF preview of this book by Jim Wilsford offers a wealth of information for teachers of beginning literacy. If you are a teacher or a parent of young readers, reading through Wilsford’s methods and lessons plans will be a great help. The approach of this series uses both whole-language and phonics to encourage reading.

Hope you find these links helpful. If you know of any other great resources for teaching reading or literacy, please add them in the comments section so other teachers can check them out!

Feature photo by John-Morgan.

2 Comments on “Free English and ESL Resources for Reading and Literacy

  1. Wow, thanks for compiling this list!! I’m going to start teaching ESL in less than a month and this is definitely helpful :)

    • Glad to be of help Naomi! I’ll be publishing a lot more resource lists and ESL lessons plans on Expat Heather in the coming months. I’m also working on a ‘master list’ of links to all my lesson plans already published on the web that can be downloaded and printed for free.

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