Using the Internet to Teach Reading
by Jeff Lebow

September 12, 2013

Computer Assisted Language Learning:
Personal Site:

Presentation Materials:
     (includes a linked version of this handout, presentation slides, and an audio recording)

Core Questions:

How can the Internet can be used to teach reading?

  Uses range from simply finding and printing high-interest materials for students to read in class to managing a tablet-enabled class in which students are interacting online and engaging with customized content while learning at their own pace.  This presentation will attempt to cover the spectrum of possibilities.

The Three F’s of using Technology in Education:  Flexible, Familiar, Frequent

For technology to be successfully used in the classroom, it has to be….

...flexible enough adjust to changing curricular needs, teaching styles, and student levels.

...familiar enough to learners and educators that the effort to learn how to use it is worth it.

…and frequent enough to make it a seamless part of teaching and learning habits.

What are the potential advantages of using the internet to teach reading?

What are the potential challenges and obstacles?


Reading Portals

Read Write Think
Skimming and Scanning Skills with Internet Bingo

Free lesson plans and materials provided by the International Reading Association.  You can search for materials by keyword, grade level, and resource type. They also provide a variety of materials on reading-related professional development.

Reading A-Z

Popular in American Classrooms. More than 1000 leveled books (27 levels), multiple genres, comes with worksheets, flashcards, supplemental materials.  $100/classroom, but provides a sample of free materials.

English reading from

A reading portal that includes articles on reading strategies,  reading level tests,  links to free books, level based readings with pre-reading vocabulary and post-reading quizzes.

Reading Rockets

From a U.S. public television station, resources about teaching reading., author Interviews, and  themed booklists.

Excellent resource for younger students learning to read, but most content is too childish for middle schoolers.

Sources of Reading Materials - Assorted Literature

makes the world's public domain audio books available for browsing in a visual and entertaining way.


Thousands of of classics online - some free, some not. Site also includes reading groups, discussions, and reviews.

The Literature Network

Mostly old classics, but some books by H.G. Wells, Henry O. and Jonathon Swift might be age-appropriate.  Some books also include quizzes and discussions.

The Online Books Page

Project Gutenberg Children
Fighting the Whales
More than 1,000,000 books available, but many are old or not age-appropriate.

Booksie Young Adult Section

A different Twilight and a different Bella

40,000+ plus short stories, novels, and essays written and published by users.  Other users can comment on stories (which usually includes very authentic teenage language)

Wacky Web Tales

Dozens of stories for use as ‘Mad Libs’. Good part of speech practice.

Reading Materials - Storybooks and Read Aloud

International Children’s Digital Library
The Alien

1000’s of children’s books from around the world , sortable by age level and book type.

Story Online

Videos of famous people reading storybooks. Includes printable handouts with activities, but not the original text of the books.

FreeKidsBooks    Free downloadable storybooks.


Seven Ways to Survive School

Allows users to make their own visual stories using contributed illustrations. Thousands of user generated stories to read and discuss.

Children’s Storybooks Online

Illustrated books sorted by level (young children, older children, young adults)

Tarhell Reader

Hundreds of easy-to-read  user-generated books illustrated by using Flickr photos. Children's Library

Thousands of copyright-free children’s books in a variety of formats (e.g.pdf, mobi, html).

List of Children's Books for Reading

Links to many sources of free children’s books and reading material

A collection of 365 short stories for language learners. Each story include a slowly read audio and there are also quiz and dictation activities for each story. .

Repeat after Us - Online Library and Language Lab

An assortment of stories, poems, and tongue twisters - some with audio recordings.

American ESL Folklore

A few dozen American folk tales retold within several basic easy-reading paragraphs.

EastoftheWeb Children’s Short Stories -

Book Reviews, Recommendations, and Discussions

Affiliated sites that provide book reviews, author interviews, and reading lists.


Reviews, recommendations, ‘best of’ lists,  and discussions of recent books

Sources of Reading Materials - articles and news stories

Eight different sites (e.g., and that have thousands of lessons on a variety of topics.  Each is based on a short text and provides a variety of print-ready activities and sometimes audio recordings.

BBC Learning English

BBC news stories with activities and downloadable materials and audio


CNN Student News

Daily subtitled video news with a transcript and teaching materials.

ManyThings Reading

Hundreds of short readings (many from Voice of America) with audio recordings. Also includes a large collection of jokes.

Sources of high-interest authentic reading materials for adolescents

Seventeen magazine

Fashion, Beauty, and Celebrity articles aimed at teen girls

Teen Ink

Fiction and non-fiction writings by teens for teens

Discovery Girls

Tween Insecurities

Aimed at tween girls. Main magazine unavailable online, but blog posts and discussions are.

Girls Life

AImed at teen girls - full text of stories on style, health, advice, entertainments, and fun. Some content might be to ‘adult’ for middle school students

Boy’s Life
How to build a ship in a bottle

Originally a scouting oriented magazine.  Includes video game reviews, jokes, and blogs.

National Geographic Kids
Tigers Cuddle with Apes

Print-friendly materials on countries, animals, and science.  The site also has a variety of videos, games, puzzles, and photo activities.  

Ranger Rick

Produced by National Wildlife Federation.  Many animal-related articles and some comic style stories.  The site also includes games and print-ready handouts, posters, and activities.


Students from around the world meet to talk about issues, present their ideas, and respond to other children. This site also includes a chat forum with live message exchange.


Kidjutsu, Comics for Kids

Free comics sorted by type and age level


 Dr. Frost   Comic    Discussion

International comics translated into different languages (mostly English)


Large selection of comics for sale, but with a decent selection of free ones which change weekly. Some might not be appropriate for middle schoolers.

Newsarama Free Comics

Korea-related Materials


Short articles about Kpop in English

Short Kpop articles and musician profiles


Master’s Sun Recap   Goo Hye Sun Discussion

Kpop celebrity news and very active discussion forums


Includes Kpop news, event reports, and current event stories

Kpop Lyrics

Afterschool Heaven

Kpop lyrics romanized and translated into English, along with some Kpop news stories
English lyrics for Kpop songs

English Subtitles (.srt files) for Korean movies and TV shows

Korean Culture in English

English Language Bloggers in Korea   Why Korean Food is so Great

English Discussions about life in Korea

Transcripts, Subtitles, & Lyrics

Sites that contain lyrics for thousands of popular English songs
A-Z Lyrics

Song Lyrics

Lyric Training (interactive with music videos

Transcripts for English Movies & TV Shows

Simply Scripts

Internet Movie Script Database

Movie Scripts & Screenlays

Sites where you can download .srt files (subtitles) for English movies & TV Shows

TV Subtitles 

OpenSubtitles   (Korean Subtitles)  

Subtitle Seeker SubTitleSeeker

Extensive Reading

ER Central

Dedicated to developing an Extensive Reading and Extensive Listening approach to foreign and second language learning. Lots of potential resources - many still ‘coming soon’.

Rob Waring’s ER Page

A variety of resources and explanations of What, How, and Why of ER

Extensive Reading Foundation

Graded reader lists, Yearly awards, professional organization information

Korean English Extensive Reading Association (KEERA)

Bilingual site that  fosters learning and academic excellence by working with members, institutions, and individuals to create a safe, fulfilling, and academically enriching environment for Extensive English reading education in Korea.

Online level tests from different publishers.


Ace Reader’s Free Reading Test

Book Report Forms

Assorted Tools for Teaching Reading

Screen Readers  List of options at:
Speakit: Chrome Extension

Dictionary Extensions  Google Dictionary

These can be useful for quickly checking the

meaning and pronunciation of words online.

Other Options

Online HIghlighters
Diigo   (browser plugins: )
An excellent social bookmarking tool that allows you to bookmark sites online, highlight certain sections, and add sticky notes. Diigo Search for reading+efl links:

Standalone Chrome Extensions

Simple Highlighter:
Yellow Highlighter Pen:



Tremendous resource for reference, asking language questions, and printable handouts.


Tells how common a word is based on the British National Corpus.

Google Translate
Aside from translation, provides authentic usage examples from the web, pronunciation, and a saveable phrasebook.

Visual Thesaurus

Provides a graphic representation of how words are related and provides nuanced definitions.

SImilar style to Visual Thesaurus

Simple Wikipedia

100,000+ articles that use a more basic level of English. easier sentence structure, and more limited vocabulary

Assorted  Sites and Tools not specifically related to reading


Mobile friendly, make-your-own  flashcard site with thousands of existing sets. Automatically creates learning activities, games,and quizzes from the sets.


Speech-to-text animation.  Users can choose a character design and either type what they want the character to say or record the audio.  

ELLLO (English Listening Laboratory Online)

Naomi    Invest

Provides audio and video of people having authentic English conversations. Recordings include a transcript and activities for vocabulary development and comprehension.

Real English

On the street interviews with native English speakers. Each video comes with a transcript and learning activities.

Professional Development Communities

Facebook Groups -  All Things English    ESL/EFL World   EFL Teachers Kit ELT Cinema    ELT Diary  ELT Action Research   ELTPics  ELTChat  British Council 

Google+ Communities:  ELT  Better English  Learning2gether 

LinkedIn - ELT Professionals Around The World  (Discussion List)    Teachers of English 

Diigo Groups:  Language Learning and Technology Cool Tools & Ed Tech 

ELT Online Reading Group   EFLClassroom 2.0

Mobile Tools & Resources

Amazon Free Downloads

Search Amazon’s kindle store for terms like ‘young adults’, ‘teen books’, ‘children’s literature’, or a specific title or genre. Then sort by ‘Price: Low to High’. You will need to set up an Amazon account, but once you have done so, you can download the Kindle file (.azw) to your computer. You can then use a program like Calibre ( to view the book or convert it to a pdf or other mobile formats.  You can also convert the tile to simple text, if you’d like to use that for presentation materials.


K12 Timed Reading Practice Lite

The free version  comes 25 short stories that can be used to assess the students reading fluency and comprehension. Premium versions ($2~$4) includes 250+ stories.  

Comic Strips

Hundreds of comic strips viewable on a mobile device.


Reading Bee ESL English
Uses readings on
 current events, science, health, economics, US history

ESL Reading Comprehension

Level-based reading comprehension activities

Questions, Comments, Site Suggestions

Below, please post any questions, comments, or suggestions (site or tools) related to using the Internet for Teaching Reading.