Tutor Resources

Hello Project Literacy tutors! To support you during the Library’s closure, we’re going to share online teaching resources, lessons, and literacy aids to this webpage. 

Do you have a resource you would like to share with the group? Contact Aimee Lambert at alambert@watertown-ma.gov.

Go-to Resources for Teaching Material

Created by Michele Houdek, Project Literacy Teacher - April 2020

Below are some of my favorite on-line sources for English curriculum content. I’ve sorted my resources into six categories based on both topic and media type. These alternatives to textbook material can be highly motivating when they are tailored to the appropriate language levels and interests of the class. 

  • Categories 1-2 are sources for interesting authentic material that can be used to integrate language learning, introduce new grammar and vocabulary, or to explore culturally relevant values and events.  
  • Category 3 lists online sources for interesting photographs, which can be used to spur fruitful class discussions.  
  • Categories 4-5 are material created specifically for ELL, but with relevant and engaging content.

1. Primary Sources 

Because these are not specifically designed for ELL, they are culturally rich and use natural language.

New York Times


  • Written in simpler language than the NYT, but still in a natural authentic language. https://time.com/  

Time for kids

TED Talks

  • Interesting formal presentations about all sorts of topics.  Since these are more formal presentations, the language is more academic than it is every day. As a result, the source might be better for intermediate learners; though an important advantage is that people speak much more slowly than in a normal conversation. Learners can also turn on subtitles either in English or in many other languages. https://www.ted.com/about/our-organization

Story Corps   

  • Showcased on NPR weekly, this resource includes compelling interviews of regular people.  Many of these are animated on You Tube. https://storycorps.org/

The Moth     

  • Personal stories edited to be more of a narrative rather than a conversation, though often very interesting and in native, less formal, language.  https://themoth.org/

This American Life

  • A program focused on stories of life in the United States and targeted to an American audience. This is interesting because people from other countries will be able to spot unspoken aspects US culture that even the produces might not have noticed. https://www.thisamericanlife.org/

2. Authentic Material, Ready to Go 

Curated collections of authentic source material with suggested lesson plans.


*Film English 

  • Lessons created by Kieran Donaghy based on commercials and interesting YouTube videos and independent film. https://film-english.com

ESL Video

The Change Agent

  • A magazine published by World Ed and written mostly by and for adult English learners. World Ed. has many suggestions for how to use the articles in the classroom. The English is more basic than some of the other sources, and it may feel more accessible to beginners and lower intermediates because it is written by ELL and ABE learners. Each volume explores one idea from many different perspectives, such as “Play,” “Hair,” and “The Census.”  https://changeagent.nelrc.org/

English Listening Lesson Library Online

  • An international English teacher has compiled many short recordings of people talking about everyday life in English.  There are also some videos and games. All of the interviews and talks come with transcripts. The talks are all very informal everyday speech.  One interesting aspect of the talks is that the speakers have a variety of accents.  http://www.elllo.org/index.htm

3. Photos 

Interesting photos to be implemented into lessons as writing or speaking prompts

Time: https://time.com/section/lightbox/ - 1


Asking Question about a picture: https://englishforeveryone.org/Topics/Asking-Questions.html

4. Immigrant Focused Content

Materials developed specifically for ELL dealing with relevant issues for immigrants new to the United States.  The speakers speak slowly and clearly. The writing uses more simplified language.

Literacy Minnesota 

Marshall Adult Ed.

  • Writings about health, parenting and practical issues. There are leveled readings from very low to intermediate, and the site is designed so learners can move at their own pace and document their own growth. This can be fun for goal oriented learners.  There is an mp3 recording for all of the readings. http://resources.marshalladulteducation.org/reading_skills_home.htm

We Speak NYC 

  • A video series about and for ELL in the United States. It is geared to low intermediate levels. Season one is about parenting and schools. Season two is about work. https://wespeaknyc.cityofnewyork.us/

5. Current Events for ELL 

News stories and articles written for ELL in a variety of levels in clear language.  There are lesson plans and ideas ready for the classroom or classzoom ☺.

Voice of America: Read, Listen & Learn 

Voice of America: Learning English

  • Loads of interesting articles and videos about current topics.  The activities are leveled and there is usually a mp3 track to accompany the text: https://learningenglish.voanews.com/

News ELA

Breaking English News

  • Interesting articles with loads of prepared curriculum. Always free. [Are any of these sites not free?  If so, you should not that in the description: https://breakingnewsenglish.com/

Dream reader.net

  • These articles also come in a several levels and kinds of English and have associated quizzes to test comprehension.  Although not a news site, the articles are both timely and interesting. There is an audio component so that learners can read along with the text. http://dreamreader.net/