Language teachers know that often the best lesson plans are those they develop themselves.  Course books are fine used in moderation, and there is a wealth of ready-made lesson plans that can be found all over the Internet.  But nearly everything needs at least some tweaking, if not a full scale adaptation if its going to suit the personality of the trainer and the specific needs of the learner.

But the big issue is time.  With all the best of intentions its not easy to set aside time to develop new materials.  This is where automated text analysis tools come in handy, and can save you time when creating reading comprehension activities.  One such example is lingleonline.com.  They are newly out of beta, and it looks like there are still a few wrinkles that need ironing out, but it’s well worth a try.  Although it is not possible to upload your own text for analysis, there is an extensive database of recent news articles from a variety of sources, and it is fairly easy to find something topical and appropriate.

The process is quick and easy:

  1. Choose your article and level.
  2. Highlight difficult or topical vocabulary (just select the number of words, Lingle highlights a list automatically, which you can save).
  3. Automatically create exercises (grammar and vocabulary gapfills, word matching, word ordering, sentence ordering, or free text options where you can invent your own exercise).
  4. Create a glossary for difficult or topical words. The list is automatically populated with definitions from one of two online dictionaries, or you can add your own.
  5. Create a usage list – a list of sentences with the focus vocabulary used in context (taken from the Lingle corpus – unfortunately the sentences are not always especially relevant, and sometimes too short to give sufficient context).

All of these tools are fairly customiseable, and if you you don’t like any of the words or expressions selected automatically for the gapfill exercises you can delete them and add your own with a little extra effort.

The goal of Lingle is to serve as a platform where you can build up your own collection of lessons, that your students can actually access and use online, so it lends itself well to creating self-access homework exercises.  It is also easy to print .pdfs. But as with any automated tool, you may want to do some cutting, pasting and tweaking before you’re entirely satisfied with the result.  As their user base increases the tool is only going to improve, and at 40€ for a year’s subscription it’s not bad value, and they have a free 30-day trial to take it for a spin.

Lingle lesson plan screenshot

photo credit: blisschan cc

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  1. 9 juillet 2013 à 1 h 42 min

    ..about 2 weeks after this was posted we released ‘upload my content’ so you can now upload your own files. We’ve also introduced CEFR leveling, student accounts so you can share, assign and track progress, plus we now have video activities with captioned news content for listening activities and writing activities where the student and teacher can analyse their written answers with our analyzer. Video is not on public release and writing activities requires a student account. We’re offering free trials for schools that are interested. Just get in touch. Happy to organize a webinar if you’d like. thx, Ian

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