Beginners: How to Find ESL Info on the Web

Using the web to find ESL materials can be daunting for ESL teachers with little experience on the web. The following is a quick and easy “how to” guide. (Note: A more advanced tutorial can be found at: Tutorial: Refining Web Searches for ESL Topics).


Here are four web-related terms you should get familiar with:

  • Browser — Typically one of:
    • Chrome
    • Internet Explorer (IE, now Edge)
    • Safari
    • Firefox
  • Search Engine — Usually one of:
    • Google
    • Yahoo
    • Bing
  • Link
    What you “follow” when you click on a word or phrase to go elsewhere;
    normally blue and underlined.
  • Search Query
    A word or phrase that you’re looking for information about.

Finding Material for Language Skills

We’ll look at how to search for ESL (English as a Second Language) material for any of the English Language Skills:

  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Speaking
  • Listening

You can use the same approaches to look for info about Grammar and Vocabulary.

OK, now here we go. We’re going to type in ESL search queries to get lists of pages with info about those queries.

  1. Start your browser and go to the main page for the search engine you want to use for typing in your search query:

    Or, you can plan on typing your search query directly into the address bar of your browser.

  2. Always begin your search with the acronym ESL followed by the skill you’re looking for.

    ESL Reading
  3. Be certain to include the level you are working with.

    ESL Reading for third graders
  4. Now enter your query (ESL Reading for third graders). Using either the search engine main page, or the browser address bar, type the words making up your query, separated by spaces. Or, in this case, you can copy the query from this page, and paste it into the input field or address bar. If you’re using the browser address bar, it’s often useful to type a space after your query to make sure the browser understands this is a query and not an address. Hit return, or click the search symbol (a magnifying glass).

  5. Whatever was originally showing in the browser window (search engine main page, or something else if you used the browser address bar) will now be replaced with a list of web page search results: A title which is a link to a result page, the url for the page (typed out), and a brief summary of the page. There are usually lots of results. The list is shown according to the search engine’s idea of relevance to your query. By scanning the titles and summaries, you can decide which ones you want to explore in detail by clicking on the title link. Here are the first three results returned by Google for our query (the blue links are not active):
    • Free printable third grade reading comprehension worksheets | K5 …
      Use these free, printable worksheets to practice and improve reading comprehension, vocabulary and writing. Included are fiction and non-fiction passages at a grade 3 level. … The text is approximately at a 3rd grade reading level.
    • Reading tests 3 grade – ESL Tests For Primary Kids
      ESL Reading comprehension tests for 3 grade. … Click the buttons to test your READING COMPREHENSION right away and see your result (or download the …
    • Reading in Second and Third Grades | Colorín Colorado › … › ELLs in Elementary School › Articles
      Apr 5, 2010 – For ELLs, success in reading in English at second and third grade reading … (grade-level words that all students need to know) through ESL …
    You’ll find that the various search engines will give you different lists of results for your queries.

If you would like to learn more about constructing and refining ESL web queries, go to: Tutorial: Refining Web Searches for ESL Topics