5 Awesome Free Online Resources for Foreign ESL Teachers in China

5 Awesome Free Online Resources for Foreign ESL Teachers in China
May 30, 2019 By Lewis Schwinn , eChinacities.com

Many a foreign ESL teacher in China has entered the office of their new school, asked what teaching materials are to be used and been met with blank stares. Just go in and teach, they say. Assuming you don’t have the ability to conjure books from thin air, you will need access to learning materials and fast. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Today I’m going to introduce you to five awesome free online teaching resources for foreign ESL teachers in China.

1. Dogonews.com

Dognews.com is a fabulous English-language children’s news website with articles organized by difficulty level and topic, including current events, science, the environment, entertainment, and social studies. Most articles contain a list of vocabulary with example sentences, a vocabulary game, reading comprehension questions, and an option to have the article read aloud (albeit by a terrifying computer voice). They even have fun child-friendly videos to accompany some articles.

This leaves the teacher with the option of using each article as reading, listening, vocabulary or grammar practice, and they can easily be adapted into writing exercises too. Moreover, it’s one of the best ESL-oriented websites that covers current events. The site is free and only requires registering with a username.

2. Readworks.org 

This site is similar to dogonews but, much as it breaks my heart to admit it, absolutely blows it out of the water. Readworks.org has several similar features: articles arranged by topic, voiceover readings, and vocabulary/comprehension questions, but goes so much deeper. The articles are more precisely organized by difficulty, with a sliding scale of topics, grade level, word count, and lexicon.

The topics covered are also much more diverse as the site has both non-fiction articles and literature, including short stories and poetry. Many of the articles also come with a feature called “step reads”, which comprise of several versions of the same article arranged by difficulty. This gives foreign ESL teachers in China the option to teach the same lesson to students of different abilities.   

All Readwork articles have the voiceover feature, but some are even read by an actual human, which is far less disturbing and much easier for students to understand. Throw in a great set of class management tools and curriculum planning applications and you have a website that could be used to quickly and efficiently design an entire semester’s worth of classes.

Again, Readworks is free and only requires you to register. If you visit one resource from this list, make it this one.  

3. K5 Learning 
You don’t have much time. You’re frantically searching for a grammar sheet for your class. You find the perfect one, only to discover it won’t print correctly or requires payment. Put an end to this disappointing struggle with K5 Learning. This website has dozens of easy-to-print exercises covering vocabulary, grammar, spelling, writing, and phonics. The exercises are nicely divided by appropriate class level and topic.

Each worksheet is simple, employs a wide range of activities, and usually contains a bright fun graphic to keep the students’ eyes from melting. While the website is oriented towards younger learners, it’s also an excellent resource if you need a quick grammar exercise for older learners with holes in their basics. The site requires no signup or registration, and is free to use.

4.Top Zhan

One lucrative line of work for foreign ESL teachers in China is test-preparation. While there are hundreds of cheap test-prep books, many are objectively terrible and riddled with spelling and grammar mistakes. Consequently, test-prep teachers in China often find themselves without a large and diverse database of exercises of appropriate difficulty.

That’s where the magnificent people at top.zhan come in. This site contains literally hundreds of exercises, including the hard-to-find writing and speaking sections for the holy trinity of English tests: the TOEFL, IELTS, and GRE. The questions cover similar topics and have similar difficulty levels to those of the actual tests, it’s free, and requires no sign up or registration to use. 

There are two drawbacks, however. The website is completely in Chinese, so you better be up on your hanzi or have Google Translate at the ready. Some of the articles also contain minor English mistakes, but overall it’s an excellent resource for test preparation class planning.

5. ReadComicOnline

Reading exercises are vital for foreign ESL teachers in China. However, many students would rather jump out of a window than read the dry boring textbooks that most courses come with. That’s where comics can come in handy. They use natural native-level English, contain vocabulary and slang the student might not otherwise come into contact with, and are fun and bright with hundreds of different topics to suit each student’s preferences. Introducing comics into your lessons can get students reading while distracting them from the fact they’re actually studying.

ReadComicOnline has a database of thousands of different comics for both adults and children, making it easy to find one with with an appropriate theme and difficulty level for your students. Entire classes can be planned around a comic, or they could be given as a fun homework assignment.

But for the love of god, don’t let the kids go directly onto the site. It is unfortunately prone to lewd pop-up advertisements that are grossly inappropriate for younger students. ALways print out your material!

Please post in the comments section below if you think we’ve missed any awesome free online resources for foreign ESL teachers in China.

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Thank you for sharing. This is so useful for a fresh ESL teacher who plan to teach in China.

Sep 16, 2020 10:21 Report Abuse



busyteacher.org is great too

Jun 14, 2019 15:36 Report Abuse



nice article

Jun 03, 2019 12:59 Report Abuse



iprice also awesome https://ipricethailand.com/

Jun 09, 2019 22:55 Report Abuse



Wow, very useful article! Thank you for writing this.

Jun 01, 2019 13:50 Report Abuse



Actually, the correct URL is www.readworks.org !!

May 31, 2019 02:47 Report Abuse



http://ielts-yasi.englishlab.net, former examiner from australia breakingnewsenglish.com almost 3000 2 paragraph lessons for reading listening speaking varied topics short and easy. different levels of vocabulary for the same stories.

May 30, 2019 18:31 Report Abuse



Best one I ever use is https://en.islcollective.com/

May 30, 2019 16:14 Report Abuse