The Online Tools for Language Teaching (OTLT) list presented below is a result of my own explorations, experiences and evaluations. During the process of information collection, interestingly, I discovered the Directory of Learning Tools (http://c4lpt.co.uk/Directory/), which provides a comprehensive list of tools for formal, personal, group and organisational learning, including general computer applications, standalone software programs and Internet tools. While the directory itself is an excellent database of learning tools, its extra wide coverage makes it difficult for language teachers to use their online time effectively in choosing particular tools with direct relevance for language teaching. In this respect, my OTLT list takes a different approach by addressing the needs of a specific group of professionals (i.e., language teachers) and focusing on Web-based tools that can be exploited for language learning and teaching purposes.
Based on their main functions and features, the online tools are classified into twelve categories: learning/content management systems; communication; live and virtual worlds; social networking and bookmarking; blogs and wikis; presentation; resource sharing; Website creation; Web exercise creation; Web search engines; dictionaries and concordancers; and utilities (see Figure 1).
Figure 1. Categories of online tools for language teaching
Table 1 shows a selected number of online tools for each category.
1. Learning/content management systems (LMSs/CMSs) include Blackboard, Drupal, Joomla, Moodle and Sakai. Moodle, in particular, is a very popular free LMS adapted to online courses at many universities and schools.
2. Communication tools include Gmail, Skype, TokBox, Windows Live Messenger, Yahoo! Messenger, Jabberwacky, Verbot, MyBB, phpBB, Tangler and Voxopop. A good example of the communication tools is Skype, which is widely used for voice chatting and video conferencing.
3. Live and virtual worlds are used for delivering live meetings and virtual word communities. Elluminate, Livestream, OpenSimulator, ActiveWorlds, Second Life, Ustream, Wimba Classroom and WiZiQ belong to this category.
4. Social networking and bookmarking sites encompass Delicious, Diigo, Elgg, Facebook, Grouply, MySpace, Ning, SocialGo, LinkedIn, Twitter, Lang-8 and Livemocha.
5. Blogs and wikis, including Blogger, Edmodo, Edublogs, LiveJournal, WordPress.com, PBWorks, Wikispaces and Penzu, are collaboratively used in many language classes.
6. Presentation tools such as 280 Slides, Animoto, Empresser, Prezi, SlideRocket and Zoho Show offer innovative ways of presenting language-related materials.
7. Resource sharing tools are one of the most valuable tools on the Web. They encompass Google Docs, TitanPad, Zoho Writer, Box.net, Dropbox, VoiceThread, Xtranormal, Flickr, Picasa, MyPodcast, PodOmatic, Glogster, Screenr, Slideshare, PhotoPeach, Dipity, OurStory, Jing, SchoolTube, TeacherTube, VideoPress, Vimeo, WatchKnow and YouTube.
8. Website creation sites such as Google Sites, Jimdo, KompoZer, Mahara, Movable Type, SnapPages, Weebly, Webnode, Webs and Wix provide teachers and students with simple and easy ways to create their own Websites.
9. Web exercise creation tools such as ContentGenerator, SMILE, ESL Video, JClic, Hot Potatoes, Quia, Lingt and Listen and Write enable teachers to create language exercises themselves.
10. Web search engines designed to search for information on the Web include Ask.com, Bing, Google and Yahoo! Search.
11. Dictionaries and concordancers are language reference tools, which include Dictionary.com, Merriam-Webster Online, YourDictionary.com, Compleat Lexical Tutor, Forvo, Howjsay, Visuwords, OneLook Dictionary Search and VLC Web Concordancer.
12. Utilities that can be useful for language learning activities include CalculateMe, CalendarFly, Doodle, ClustrMaps, Currency Converter, Dvolver Moviemaker, Google Earth, Lesson Writer, Storybird, Cacoo, Mindmeister, Mindomo, Remember the milk, SurveyMonkey, Voki, Time and Date, TinyURL.com, W3C Link Checker, Wallwisher, Wayback Machine and Wordle.
The list (Table 1) is not exhaustive and can be modified and updated in line with changes to existing tools and developments of new tools. Also, there are tools that can be listed in more than one category due to their integrated features (e.g., Wimba classroom, Jing).