Common Sense Review
Updated June 2014


Great mix of fun lessons and practice has solid language support
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Common Sense Rating 4
Teacher Rating (1 Teacher Review) 4
  • Levels 1-3 correspond to beginning, intermediate, and advanced ESL levels.
  • Each lesson starts with a short video and includes many interactive activities and games.
  • The Teaching Tools section provides three complete lesson plans for each movie.
  • Each lesson has a video and eight supporting features, including a practice game like this one.
  • This Warm Up is one of the pre-quizzes in Level 3.
Colorful, engaging, and easy to use, the site provides integrated lessons that make learning and teaching English easier.
Subject matter coverage is somewhat limited; doesn’t include access to BrainPOP's main site offerings.
Bottom Line
There’s no fluff here -- everything on the site is aimed at helping ELLs learn to read, write, and speak English.
Kristina Duncan
Common Sense Reviewer
Classroom teacher
Common Sense Rating 4
Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return? 5

The site is vibrant, well-organized, and easy to use. Cute animated characters guide the lessons, which include short movies, games, and practice. Activities hold kids’ attention while teaching them vocab and grammar.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer? 4

Learning is built into every component of the lessons, which all have vocab support; reading, writing, listening, and speaking practice; and interactive games. Lessons get more challenging as kids progress.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students? 4

A very thorough FAQ section explains all the features. Teacher support includes lesson plans, content background info, unit overviews, wordlists, and ideas for extra practice, as well as access to BrainPOP's Educator site.

About our ratings and privacy evaluation.
How Can Teachers Use It?

There are a lot of ways to use BrainPOP ESL in the classroom. The program is extensive enough to be used as part of a daily curriculum, or as a review of various grammar topics. Teachers can also assign the units as supplemental activities for practice on their own. Subject-area teachers won't find as many useful materials, as the focus is almost exclusively on grammar and more practical and general school vocab. However, the regular BrainPOP site has tons of content that could be useful for more advanced ELLs.

Teacher tools provided with the BrainPOP ESL lessons include lesson plans with some printable materials, grammar review info, and ideas for extra practice. Teachers also get access to the BrainPOP Educators page: Although there aren't any ESL-specific resources there, teachers may be able to adapt something for use with BrainPOP ESL.

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What's It Like?

BrainPOP ESL features games, activities, and animated movies designed for ESL students, from beginning to advanced. It focuses on reading, writing, vocabulary building, listening, and speaking. Lessons follow the familiar cartoon characters Ben and Moby through their adventures at school and in daily life. Each lesson has a specific grammar focus and covers new vocab that’s either school- or life-related or a simple content topic, like astronomy.   

The lessons are leveled, corresponding to beginning, intermediate, and advanced ESL levels. At each level, there are numerous lessons, each of which start off with a short video. Kids can continue learning and practicing with interactive flashcards, games, reading and writing activities, and quizzes.

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Is It Good For Learning?

Unlike a lot of sites where fun games engage kids separately from the learning, BrainPOP ESL seamlessly integrates engaging lessons with language practice to create an excellent resource for ELLs. The lessons and activities are fun, practical, and easy to navigate. As kids progress, lessons become more challenging and build on previous topics. Each activity on the site has visual (videos, pics, captions) and listening/speaking components. New words and concepts are repeated many times, and students have lots of opportunities to practice listening, reading, writing, and speaking as they play with the interactive activities. Kids can even record and play back their voices to work on pronunciation.

The site seems most appropriate for upper-elementary and middle school students. Older kids may not be as engaged with the topics, as many seem too simple or not as relevant to high school. Older kids will still find the vocab and grammar focus useful, however, especially if they're just beginning to learn English.

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See how teachers are using BrainPOP ESL

Lesson Plans