ESL / EFL Resources

Especially tailored to non-native speakers and their instructors, these resources supplement our other links on Academic Writing.

Useful Tools for ESL Students (Duke): Useful links (including some from this webpage), arranged as a printable handout.

Listening and Conversational Skills (Duke): Strengthen your listening and conversational skills by perusing the websites selected for this handout.

We No Speak Americano: Understanding International Students' Writing (Duke): This student-produced video documents international first-year students' experiences learning to write academically in English and in their native languages, as well as reveals the difficulties they face transitioning to university-level writing in America.

Looking for the Right Word: A Guide to the Corpus of Contemporary American English (COCA) (Duke): This handout provides an introduction and guide to using the COCA; the handout links to explanatory video clips on YouTube.  The COCA is particularly useful for students learning the academic terminology of a new discipline and for non-native students.

Looking for the Right Word II: A Guide to Wordandphrase.info (Duke): This handout explains how to use the Wordandphrase.info website.  Like COCA, Wordandphrase.info is useful for students learning the academic terminology of a new discipline and for non-native students.

Grammar Help

  • Guide to Grammar and Writing (Capital Community College): A Writing Studio favorite, this website offers grammar and usage advice from A ("A, An, The") to Z ("Zero articles"), with links to quizzes that test your grammar knowledge and provide explanations for answers.
  • ESL Common Errors Workbook (Penguin): This Penguin Handbook offers tutorials and interactive practice for avoiding common ESL errors.
  • Articles (UNC): Studies show that articles are among the hardest grammatical units to learn in English. In some contexts, readers might be willing to "read past" article errors; in other contexts, they might not. To strengthen your understanding of article usage, check out this detailed method from UNC's Writing Center.
  • Help Center at Dave's ESL Café: Ask ESL questions online and receive answers from ESL tutors, courtesy of Dave's ESL Café.

Dictionaries

  • Learner's Dictionaries: Monolingual learners' dictionaries assist learners of a foreign language by providing more detailed information about definitions, usage, collocations, grammar, synonyms, countability, etc., than one can find in a bilingual dictionary or a dictionary designed for native speakers. Useful online learners' dictionaries include the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary and the Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English Online.
  • Dictionary of English Idioms: Idioms are expressions that have a meaning based on common usage rather than on the meanings of the individual words. Use this dictionary of English idioms to make sense of phrases like "Cat got your tongue?" and "Mind your own beeswax."
  • Dictionary of English Phrasal Verbs: Phrasal verbs are idiomatic expressions that combine a verb with a preposition (e.g. sign away, sign for, sign in, sign into, sign off, sign on, sign on with, sign out, sign out of, sign up, sign with). Consult this dictionary to understand differences in meanings, to find the right adjective to use with a verb, or just to browse phrasal verbs.
  • Visual Dictionary: Sometimes a picture helps you make sense of a word better than a written explanation can.

Vocabulary:The Academic Word List

  • The Academic Word List (Victoria University of Wellington): Averil Coxhead developed the Academic Word List, comprised of 570 word families chosen for their frequency in an academic corpus. Click on the site's links to explore the headwords and sublists.
  • Vocabulary Exercises for the Academic Word List (University of Victoria): Gerry Luton of the University of Victoria created these vocabulary exercises for the Academic Word List (AWL).

Can't find what you're looking for here? The UNC Writing Center also offers a variety of ESL Student Resources.