There is certainly no shortage of material to help teach kids English as a second language. There are so many resources that you can use, some parents and teachers might not know where to start. With that in mind, we have sorted through what we think are the best ESL DVDs, apps, books, websites and language learning systems for kids that help with the wonderful journey of learning a new language.
The Best DVDs to Teach Kids ESL
DVDs are an easy way to get kids familiar with English. Of the DVDs that we checked out, our top picks for the best DVDs for help teach kids English at home are Little Pim: Volume One English/ESL and the LeapFrog: Learning DVD Set.
If you are looking for a DVD, a good place to start is with the Little Pim: English DVDs. Little Pim have lots of videos to choose from for ages 0-5. You can buy them individually or in sets. Each DVD is thirty-five minutes long and includes seven episodes that combine an animated portion with Little Pim the Panda and a portion narrated by Little Pim that shows real children demonstrating the word or phrase that is being learned. This series is generally pretty good quality and fun for kids to watch.
If you are looking for something a little more advanced, you can’t really go wrong with any of the LeapFrog letter or number videos. They are very popular with anyone teaching kids letters, words, numbers, etc. They are entertaining for kids and very educational. These are highly recommended for kids learning English.
Another good resource is the Sesame English: ESL for Children series of DVDs (if you can get your hands on it!). It seems to be discontinued so check your local library and there a couple of places selling it here or here. YouTube also have a few clips of the Sesame Street ESL series.
ESL Language Learning Programs and Websites for Kids
There are so many really good websites with ESL resources for kids you won’t have any trouble finding something that will help you teach your kids English online:
- Mingoville is an online-based course featuring fun English games, grammar, songs, and more. You can try the site for free and if your kids like it then you can upgrade to a paid membership for $24 for 3 months or $48 for a year.
- ESL Kids Lab has ESL teaching materials for kids from k to 12. It also has video lessons.
- Starfall is a free website to teach children to read with phonics. For preschool, kindergarten, and first grade. It has phonics games and online interactive books
- DinoLingo English for Kids – Learning English for Children DVD Set is a language learning program for kids that uses DVDs, books, CDs, flashcards, and online lessons.
- English 4 Kids has ESL teaching materials, resources for children, parents and teachers of English. It also has games and activities for ESL kids.
- English Classroom also has ESL teaching for young learners.
- Learn English Kids has lots of free online games, songs, stories and activities for children to have fun and learn English too.
- Anglomaniacy is a great site for kids who are learning English. Includes picture dictionaries, basic English vocabulary, grammar for kids, online word games, tests, etc.
- ESL Kids is a wonderful free ESL website for kids. It has flashcards, handwriting worksheets, classroom games and children’s song lyrics.
Free Online Games to Help Teach ESL
- ESL Games Plus offers interactive online games for learning and teaching English as a Second Language.
- English Language Games has some fun letter, colour, number, writing, etc. games.
Best ESL Apps for Kids
There are lots of great apps to help teach kids English. Here is a small sample of some of the best:
- Intro to Letters is a very highly rated app that covers the basic foundations of language, how to read, write and understand letters from a-z, lowercase letter symbols and their sounds (phonics) phonograms – writing and pronunciation capital letters – letter names, writing and pronunciation, and consonants and vowels.
- Kids learn English with Busuu helps kids learn 150 words, taught across 30 learning units full of educational games. Each lesson follows a 5 step methodology to gradually help your child learn vocabulary, spelling and phonetics.
- Adventures for Kids helps kids develop an English vocabulary by following characters on adventures through space, the zoo, the farm, the city, etc.
- Simplex Spelling Phonics 1 is a very highly rated app that teaches English spelling and reading skills by using a combination of phonics lessons, spelling/word patterns, and contextually relevant spelling rules.
- Word BINGO helps kids learn sight words (sight words are words that are recognized immediately (on sight) without phonetically decoding or sounding out parts).
- Sight Words Hangman uses 300 sight words in a hangman game to help increase kids vocabulary, spelling and reading levels.
- SentenceBuilder is designed to help elementary aged children learn how to build grammatically correct sentences.
- Flashcards for Kids has 1,500 picture flashcards to help boost kid’s English vocabulary.
- Duolingo is a free language learning app. It’s designed for adults but can be good for kids as well.
ESL Books for Kids
- Let’s Learn English Picture Dictionary (for ages 3-8) contains more than 1,550 commonly taught basic words that are displayed on pictures scenes such as home life, the classroom, city life, sports, the zoo, outer space, etc. This picture dictionary also includes an index and glossary of all the individually illustrated words.
- ESL Activities and Mini-Books for Every Classroom is a quick and easy guide that is designed for teachers with kids who can’t speak English, but it can also be helpful for parents of ESL kids with tips and activities for kids in Grades 1-4.
ESL Songs for Kids
- ESL Kids has over 40 popular children’s songs and nursery rhymes in this section, many of which can be found on YouTube if you don’t know the melody of need ideas for gestures.
- Anglomaniacy has a list and some audio clips and lyrics of some of the most popular English songs for kids.
ESL Learning Toys for Kids
Here are some fun toys that we found that are helpful to young ESL learners.
- ThinkFun What’s Gnu is a fun game for younger players to practice their word recognition and spelling skills. Players slide the “Letter Getter” forward to reveal two letter tiles, and then use them to create three-letter words by filling in the blanks on their Word-Starter cards. The player who spells the greatest number of words wins.
- Sentence Building helps develop early grammar and reading skills with sturdy, interlocking cards that cover parts of speech, capital letters, punctuation, building sentences, etc. Tailor activities to different learning levels with this set that includes grammatically color-coded cards (55 word, 4 punctuation, and 27 photo cards), game ideas, sample sentences, and teaching suggestions.
- DK Games: Silly Sentences (for ages 4-7) is a game that has puzzle pieces for making sentences. The sentence structure is enforced by the way the puzzle pieces fit together. ESL teachers seem to like this game for their students although lots of complaints that there aren’t enough verbs in it.
- Sentence Scramble: For English Learners of All Ages! Primary, ESL & Ell is designed to teach the basic structure of simple English sentences. The object of Sentence Scramble is to make as many sentences as possible with a set of word cards. The cards are printed on both sides, color coded, and include nouns, adjectives and articles, verbs, adverbs, prepositions, and pronouns.
- Zingo Sight Words uses the game of bingo to help kids learn to recognize sight words. Kids will learn to read common sight words.
Flashcards and Workbooks
- First Words Flash Cards (Brighter Child Flash Cards) is a set that features 54 cards that help reinforce phonics, letter recognition, and reading readiness skills with full-color illustrations. A special card also offers creative game ideas designed to reinforce learning.
- Picture Words Flash Cards can help your child learn basic words. Each card presents a word, plus a colorful picture representing that word. There is also a Parent Card that suggests many games to help your child learn letters and words.
- Trend Enterprises Sight Words Bingo Flash Cards( for ages 5-9) is a set that includes 36 playing cards, 264 playing chips, caller’s mat and cards and a storage box. Kids will practice reading 46 words from common vocabulary lists
- Cut & Paste Sight Words Sentences helps beginning readers master over 100 sight words using the unique, hands-on approach in this resource. Step-by-step directions tell how to use the sight words on each reproducible to teach an entire lesson reinforcing sight word recognition, sentence structure, vocabulary development, and higher level comprehension skills.