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English Firsthand


(reviewed in Winter 2011)


Reviewer: NaRi Kim

Recommendation: Recommended with reservation


English Firsthand is a Web site created to supplement the English Firsthand series by Pearson Longman Asia ELT. The series focuses on listening/speaking skills at various levels of ESL with grammar/writing/reading to support each lesson. The lessons in these series are created by full-time teachers and are adequate to be implemented in a classroom setting. Most of the pages on the Web site will provide limited information without access to the books. The Web site, however, has some additional resources for teachers to gather classroom activities. This evaluation is based on the Web site’s usefulness for teachers without the actual books in hand.




I recommend this Web site with reservation because it provides limited information without access to the physical books. Although the site offers a lot of online worksheets, video clips, and extra activities, they are named as corresponding unit numbers and not by lesson titles. This organization makes it difficult to navigate the site for specific lesson plans. Teachers need to open each unit under different book series to know its content. This will be a time consuming process, but worth while when teachers are looking for fun classroom activities or short video conversation clips.


If teachers have the time to open each link, they will be on a treasure hunt for interactive activity ideas on PDF files and access to many video conversation clips, which will make their lessons more fun and interactive for students. It has 48 activities ready to be printed. Each activity explicitly lists easily accessed materials and clearly explains procedure to teachers. It is designed to interest students with different learning styles, including kinesthetic learners. Some activities engage students in fashion shows and others in talking to different partners on various suggested topics.


Video conversation clips, on the other hand, are designed to help auditory and visual learners. Each clip has two real actors in a specific language situation. It captures each actor’s emotion and shows how s/he speaks according to the displayed emotion. This feature makes video conversation clips powerful teaching tools for students in foreign countries with few opportunities to observe native English speakers.  


The Web site is recommended for teachers willing to navigate through different unit numbers for interactive class activities to incorporate different learning strategies.


Subject Headings: ESL teacher resources, ESL student activities