Eight free online tools for developing lesson resources

Trying to make original resources for your classes? 

This can be a very time-consuming process, but there are some free online tools that can help.  They can not only save you time but also improve the quality of your material.  Below, I’ve included some of my favorites.  Hope they help. 

Vocab Kitchen
The profiler function on this site helps you check resource vocabulary is level-appropriate for your learners.  To check your content,  just paste it into the website window.  It will then instantly color-code the words according their CEFR (or AWL, NAWL) level.  It will also give you a percentage break-down of the vocabulary levels you’re using.  Also a great tool if you’re writing graded readers.   Link: Vocab Kitchen

TED Education
This free site allows lessons to be created around TED Talk videos.  The lesson design is easy and resources produced are very polished.  The only drawback is that most TED talks are a bit difficult for learners under around intermediate level.  Link: TED Education

Discovery Crossword Maker
For some reason, my learners love doing crosswords for vocab review.  But it’s really time-consuming to make and format them.  This is a simple user-friendly crossword-making tool.  Just paste in your words with their definitions/hints (like Quizlet), and viola, a crossword appears, magic!  Great for vocab review or pair-work activities.   Link: Discovery Education Puzzle Maker

The Gimp
I’m not ashamed to say I still often use MS Paint to make and edit illustrations for my resources.  But, as you know, it has limited functionality.  If you don’t mind paying, Adobe Illustrator is also a great tool.  But, try The Gimp first (that’s right..bring out the gimp, lol).  It’s a great tool, because it’s free to download and has a wide range of functionality for both creating and editing images.  Can take some time to figure out how to use it, but there are always YouTube tutorials.  Link: TheGimp

Type IPA
A simple online tool that allows you to write IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet) symbols.  Also includes other related symbols such as primary & secondary stress.  Great for adding IPA to word/phrase lists etc.  Just copy and paste.  Link: Type IPA

Google Docs and Sheets
As you probably already know, Google platforms can do a whole lot of things and all integrate very well.  For example, Google Sheets can automatically create bilingual translations for your wordlists.  Google Docs can convert images of text (even hand-written) to text documents.  And then, of course, there’s Google Classroom, but that’s for another post.  Start by registering  a Google account and you’re good to go.

Copyright free images
Creating orginal images for your resources can take a lot of time (and artistic talent!).  Also, a lot of “free” clipart and images you find on the net are actually protected by copyright.  But there are a number of websites that provide copyright free (Creative Commons CCO) images, icons and photos.  Two sites you might find useful for this are Freepik and Pixabay.

Oxford learner’s Dictionaries
Trouble thinking of simple definitions and example sentences for your word lists?  This free online learner dictionary uses easy-to-understand but reasonably natural language that can give you some good ideas.  Just be wary of copying material to your resources verbatim as this might create copyright issues. Link: Oxford learner’s Dictionaries

In closing, do think you have a knack for making resources?  Perhaps you could also look at self-publishing or selling them online.  One site called TeachersPayTeachers lets you sell the resources you make online (although they take a 50% cut).

Anyway, hope the tools above help!