Whether you are a teacher preparing bespoke materials for a class, a writer, or an editor doing content development work, at some point you will probably find yourself scouring the internet for ideas and information. It can be a time-consuming business. I’m going to use this post to pull together some of my favourite sites for materials development.
In case you are not already familiar with it, the IATEFL Materials Writing Special Interest Group has an excellent resource page full of useful links. Start there! It’s free for everyone to access, so you don’t have to be a member. There’s also advice on how to get into materials writing, and how to write quality materials (more from me on that here and here).
Many art galleries now have open access to their collections, too. See this article about searching the Metropolitan Museum of Art, for example, and this link to the National Gallery of Art. Both have huge collections from which you can download and reproduce images.
When writing grammar activities or reference pages, I make regular use of English Grammar Today, which has simple explanations and helpful examples.
Julie Moore recently published a great blog post on corpora you can access and scenarios in which you might find them a useful reference point.
Checking the level
If you want to make sure you are pitching language appropriately, you can search English Vocabulary Profile to find out the CEFR level of vocabulary. It’s free to subscribe. There’s also the Global Scale of English toolkit, which I admit I haven’t used, but I know writers who do. And there’s Vocab Kitchen, which has the advantage of allowing you to check a whole text.
It’s a truth universally acknowledged that ELT professionals love dictionaries. They are super useful, after all, as Kerry summarises:
Anyone trying to write songs will probably also appreciate a rhyming dictionary. I mostly use Rhymezone.
Rhymer is another option. It allows you to modify your search to find different rhyme forms.
(I also recently made the discovery of the Flocabulary site for aspiring rappers, and enjoyed reading their list of unconventional rhymes … spaghetti, Serengeti … Barack Obama, stop the drama … and so on. It goes without saying that I am yet to find a use for any of these!)
Last but not least, I find it really useful to have a link to this IPA keyboard on my favourites bar, particularly when writing lots of pronunciation activities.
Over to you
What have I missed? I’d love to hear about your recommended sites for materials writing, so do share more ideas in the comments.