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English Club

http://www.englishclub.com

(TWO reviews)

(Review 1: Fall 2008) 

Reviewer:  Suzana Alves

Recommendation:  Highly Recommended

Description

English Club is a Web site based in Cambridge, England. It is a “web club” for anyone learning or teaching English as a second or foreign language. The site was founded and is owned by Josef Essberger, a British-born native-speaker who has taught English in Europe and Asia since 1990. He founded English Club for ESL learners and teachers in 1997. English Club was one of the earliest sites dedicated to ESL on the Internet. It started as just a few pages, but soon expanded to be one of the largest ESL sites with over 7,000 pages at the beginning of the 21st century.

English Club for Learners. English Club has many pages designed to help learners improve their English. Learners can choose a method of study that suits their learning style and can work in their own way and time. They can find activities on grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation, listening, speaking, reading and many other subjects. Games, quizzes and jokes are also available for those who like to learn in a fun way. ESL/EFL students can also participate in discussion forums, chat rooms or find pen pals. A very unique feature of the site is a 24-hour Help Desk, where learners can post their questions about English, and experts will reply with an answer. Users can also find information about exams, study abroad schools and other ESL Web sites resources. In addition to all this, there are also some ESP pages like ESL, Business English and Young Learners.

English Club for Teachers. Teachers may print and distribute any material found on English Club for non-commercial educational purposes provided that they do not modify its content and provided that the source is clearly cited. Teachers may use English Club to:
  • Find a lesson plan: In the ESL Lesson Plans section, teachers can find whole lessons, including games, activities and worksheets, graded by level.
  • Find a job at the job section.
  • Chat with other teachers in the chat room.
  • Find pen pals for their students.
  • Participate in discussions on the teacher forums.
  • Submit their own ideas or lesson plans.
  • Submit an article for the ESL Progress magazine
  • Be a volunteer Teacher on the ESL Help Desk.
Access to all parts of English Club is entirely free of charge and users have the choice to become members and join over 70,000 other members around the world. By choosing to join the English Club, users receive the site’s monthly email newsletter, ESL Progress; are able to download ESL e-books for low-cost; receive the 7 Secrets (a secret a day with the best ways to improve your English); submit teaching ideas and/or articles; and participate in teaching discussions. English Club operates several ESL sites, including EasyEnglish.com, TEFL.NET (a site dedicated to teachers), and eslAdmin.com (for school administrators).

Evaluation

Although English Club targets both ESL/EFS teachers and students, this evaluation will focus on the site’s materials for teachers only. English Club is one of the world’s largest ESL/EFL Web sites with more than 10,000 pages. According to information found on the site, English Club is updated 24 hours a day. They have over 700,000 user sessions per month and over 4 million page views per month. There are lots of people who contribute regularly to EnglishClub.com, giving a constant supply of exciting and refreshing ideas and materials to help in learning or teaching. Editorial updates and new pages are added daily.

At first, users may find this site very complex, confusing and difficult to use because there is a lot of information. However, it only takes a few minutes to explore its pages, get used to the sites’ tools and sections, and realize that this is a very rich ESL resource. I strongly recommend English Club.

At the top of English Club’s home page, users can find all the sections contained in the Web site. They can choose material by using these sections or by using two main menus in the page: “ESL Learners What do you want?” Or “ESL Teacher What do you want?” Along the sides of the page are announcements, different Web site links and lots of advertisements which, in my opinion, are very distracting. On every page you access there are at least three different advertisements, although this is how the Web site supports itself.

The “teachers’ menu” is very efficient and easy to use. Teachers can
  • Go to ESL teacher lounge, where they can discuss ESL teaching issues, find other teachers for ESL projects, and read teaching tips.
  • Everyone can read the discussions and projects, although to post your own it is necessary to be an English Club member.
  • Find a lesson plan, ESL worksheets, ESL activities and games and/or authentic reading materials.
  • Learn about EFL/ESL terminology.
  • Learn about TEFL qualifications.
  • Read TEFL articles.
  • See news in English from different countries.
  • Make their own worksheets online.
  • And much more.
I sampled some of the lesson plans, worksheets, games and other activities, and found them to be fairly good, helpful and well-organized. Some of these activities were posted by englishclub.com and others from collaborators from around the world. I did not find any spelling or typographical errors, which implies that the site is edited carefully. However, I can’t tell how old these activities are because they lacked any date stamp.

In sampling every section of English Club, I found the Web site to be very organized and easy to use. However, I would especially like to comment on the “Find an ESL Job” section where a lot of job offers were posted. I was very impressed to see how well organized all the offers were. A lot of details were provided about the jobs, and they were all recently posted, implying that this section is updated regularly.

As a final note, it is good to keep in mind that English Club is a British site, and it is consequently written mainly in British English. Users shouldn’t be surprised if they see a word that they think is wrongly spelled. Some words are spelled differently in British English and American English: "colour" and “color,” for example.

In short, English Club has many useful resources and I totally encourage people interested in the ESL field to explore this very rich and well-organized Web site.

Subject Headings:  ESL teachers, ESL materials, job postings


(Review 2: Winter 2010)

Reviewer: Pat Raburn

Recommendation: Mild recommendation due to extensive ads, but interesting content.


Description

This Web site EnglishClub dot com is published by Joseph Essberger. He is a native born speaker from England who has taught English in Asia and Europe since 1990. He specifically states that he doesn’t require membership or fees; therefore, he receives his income to support the site through banner advertising situated on the site. Mr. Essberger did not have dates associated with some of his work and contributions. I did not see citations of articles being from other journals. The site uses British English.
There are contributions by other authors on the site, especially Alex Case, and they do indicate the date of authorship and the person’s biography. There was no way to independently verify the accuracy of their descriptions.

Evaluation

Scope, Coverage, and Relevance: The site itself is fairly comprehensive and has a wide scope, covering as it says, all of the four language skills. The intended audience is teachers and learners with a generalized knowledge and interest in learning English as a second language.

There is a specific area that focuses on reading and offers a selection of readings from classic short stories to three longer stories (1500, 3000, and 7000 words) that are written by the Web site owner, Mr. Essberger. There are vocabulary and comprehension questions associated with each of them. The 7000-word story presented 146 words in the vocabulary list, which included the contextual meaning, part of speech, and an example of the meaning in a sentence. The type of material included is from beginning to advanced levels, and it doesn’t appear to be a subset of a more comprehensive source.

There is also something similar to Facebook in that a tab within English Club is My.English Club where you can have your own page with photos, blogs, videos and music. It appears to be like Facebook, but I didn’t access it since you needed to register for the site.

Bias and Accuracy: I didn’t detect any bias, and at times there were explanations that a definition would be slightly different in American English. It appears that Mr. Essberger has engaged the services of Alex Case to provide content to the site. An article by Mr. Case was included in TEFL.net which cites Brown’s “Teaching by Principles”. Mr. Case has his own language blog called TEFLtastic. He also has been an ESL/EFL teacher and is currently living and working in Thailand.

Currency / Timeliness: There is no date on the home page. Usually there are year dates noted on posted articles at the end of the article, but not as a by-line like journalism. There are many comments sections of other parts of the site and there were postings on those as recent as Feb 7, 2010. The tone appears to be that this is a current, viable, and useful Web site given the comments by people and recent postings.

Quality: The specifically labeled reading section is quite small. However, there were reading exercises and activities throughout the site, so a person would have to search hard if they wanted to only concentrate on reading.
For example, there is a selection for young learners that encourage parents to begin teaching English to their baby. The comments and FAQS about how and when to teach a baby are accompanied by an audio version so that the person inquiring about teaching a baby can also read along. This would be great for a person that is learning English himself or herself as a second language. The advice given was consistent with academic knowledge of what babies are capable of learning.

I did a search for Reading Lesson Plans and received a list of selections on the cite. I selected one that linked me to their ESL Lesson Plans in tefl.net. They had Authentic Reading Materials listed, with Headline News. This was connected to a listing of articles from different newspapers, like the New York Times. Specifically one article, regarding a 5000% gain on penny stocks, sent me to a sponsored link that was Stockpicktrading.com. To access that site you needed to be registered. This portion was not useful because it was really a collection of current articles that didn’t offer any management or control of vocabulary or degree of difficulty.

Overall Summary

There are many banner adds on the site, Ads by Google, and then some of the links will put you into commercial sites. Having quite a few commercial links with this site dissuades me from recommending it. However, Mr. Essberger made it clear that it is the mechanism to keep the site in existence. I did like the personalization with his short stories and some of the interviews he included on the site.

Subject Headings
: ESL teachers, reading, lesson plans
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