Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Fun New Resource: UsingEnglish.com

The Favorite Tutor of this week's tutor tip is Community Literacy intern Emily Shayman. Emily found UsingEnglish.com. The website describes itself this way:"UsingEnglish.com provides a large collection of English as a Second Language (ESL) tools & resources for students, teachers, learners and academics. Browse our grammar glossary and references of irregular verbs, phrasal verbs and idioms, ESL forums, articles, teacher handouts and printables, and find useful links and information on English."

Student Services Director Amy Kemph recommends clicking on the Teacher Resources tab. There you will find:

  • Over 3000 idioms, including 175 beginning with the letter 'a'
  • Definitions of 2,710 current English Phrasal Verbs-such as make up, make up for, make do
  • 159 free PDF lesson plans and handouts

And it has quite a bit more than just what you find described here. While wandering through the site I found a text content analyzer, a gadget that gives you statistics on the readability of any material you can cut-and-paste or type into a text box. You can use the analyzer to calculate things like relative lexical density, i.e. the total number of words divided by the number of different words. A passage from Dr. Seuss' Green Eggs and Ham, for instance, has a lexical density of 14%, since the whole story uses just a bit over 200 words, most of which are repeated. You can also get an estimate of the number of years of education a person needs to have had in order to properly understand the material. According to the site,

The Gunning Fog Index gives the number of years of education that your reader hypothetically needs to understand the paragraph or text. The Gunning Fog Index formula implies that short sentences written in plain English achieve a better score than long sentences written in complicated language. For reference, the New York Times has an average Fog Index of 11-12,

Navigate over to the site to find things that will be very useful, both for ESL and basic literacy. And while you are at it, have fun with all the features it offers.

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