(reviewed Fall 2008)
Reviewer: Laty Johnson
Recommendation: Recommended with Reservations
English-zone is a Web site aimed at offering information to general audiences as well as to a membership population. The purpose of the site is to offer a range of information dealing with English, from grammar to study skills strategies to an online dictionary. The components of the site are separated into zones with each zone providing a range of sub-topics. The general format of the subtopics includes an overview description of that topic, sample classroom activities, games, and extension exercises. The site is noted as a member of the Friends of the Quebec ESL Ring (hyperlink does not work), and this specific site is maintained by Kaye Mallory, a graduate with a bachelor’s degree from California State University, Fullerton. This site is supported by members’ dues and is listed as an approved site from various watchdog Web organizations, e.g., Family Friendly Sites, Family Online Safety Institute, and Net Nanny. Additionally, this site was awarded a Golden Web Award in 2003 and 2004 for Web design, originality, and excellence in information dissemination.
Although English-Zone.com offers information for ESL/EFL teachers and students, this evaluation will focus on the site’s materials for teachers. As I browsed this Web site, it is clear why this site has won awards and recognition. As a non-member, I was able to view only those pages open to me as a guest. In these pages, the information was introduced in a logical fashion with a brief description of the concept or idea and with hyperlinks to exercises. The hyperlinks for members only were much more in quantity; however, the information for guests reflected the quality of the information provided. On the same page of the topic, there is a sample list of book(s) to buy related to that topic. When you click on the book, it links to the Amazon.com Web site. Although it is not specifically stated on the English-zone.com site, I surmised that a partial sponsor of this site is Amazon.com. Therefore, it is likely that the English-zone.com is not only a resource for ESL/EFL teachers and students, but it also has a financial component to it.
In an effort to learn more about the site, I tried to view the FAQs on the site. Although the FAQs provided subtopics, once clicked on the subtopics, I was directed to a generic page with the same listing of subtopics. Therefore, I didn’t actually see the question nor a corresponding response. One of the areas that did have information was the background of Ms. Mallory. It was noted that her academic background in TESOL was a bachelor’s degree only; therefore, the information presented on the site is not necessarily an in-depth graduate level work in the topic. It is a fun site to navigate, but is not user-friendly for the English learner unless that individual is comfortable with knowing which links to select and what information she is seeking to find.
Subject headings: ESL teachers, ESL materials