(reviewed Fall 2008)
Reviewer: Wijarinee Muensa
Recommendation: Highly Recommended
This is a Web site for both ESL teachers and learners which began in 1997. The Web site is divided to three main parts: start learning, continue learning and teach ESL. Each part includes explanations, lessons, exercises and quizzes. The first page includes a free ESL newsletter, discussion board, topics to browse, tips on taking important tests, and ESL ads and sponsored links. In addition, there are discussion and community forums in which learners can have discussions about English learning.
Kenneth Beare, the author of esl.about.com, is an ESL teacher, trainer, and content developer. He runs Dialogue Consulting LLC, a company, which specializes in ESL learning materials development. He obtained his degrees in the USA and Germany, and he also received his Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) diploma from Trinity College in London. His experience in teaching English is impressive. He has taught general English and English for Special Purposes in Germany, New York, and Italy. Besides, he has developed numerous multi-media ESL courses for clients in Italy, England, Canada and the USA. Since he has lived in many foreign countries, including Germany and Italy, and is fluent in German and Italian, he also knows what it means to learn a new language in order to adjust to a different culture.
The Web site is very well organized and designed, which makes it easier for the users to find the information they are looking for under the topic headings. Besides, the topics are put in different groups to help audiences to find their information easily. Example lessons are included as are quizzes for self-evaluation, which is very good idea for self-stufy. Overall, the Web pages look neat and easy to navigate.
For the start learning part, the Web page has various head topics for the beginners such as ABCs, numbers, basics English grammar, basics quiz to check your understanding, types of words, important exception and rules, etc. For the continue learning part, the Web page is designed for learners who have some background in learning English because the lessons are more complicated and include such topics as idioms, English grammar, reading skills and comprehension, writing in English, business English, English tests, etc. The teach ESL part is designed for ESL teachers. The topics are various such as teaching different levels, teaching different subjects, recommending books and materials, and job opportunities.
In most of the lessons, there are explanation, examples, and exercises. There are also audio clips in some lessons. Learners can learn from both visual and audio materials to help them understand easily and clearly, just like learning in class. There is a community forum to bring up different topics about learning English and a comment forum for discussions about English learning.
However, there is a drawback of this Web site. The overall Web site is full of letters. It could be too boring for some learners because there is nothing eye catching. Besides, the organization is so informal and lacks interesting points.
To rate this Web site, I would say that this Web site is much more valuable than it looks. It looks like an old fashion book, but in fact, it is full of valuable knowledge and has effective strategies to assist learners to comprehend the ESL self-study lessons and to assist teachers in their teaching with lesson plans, various activities and recommended textbooks and resources.
Therefore, I highly recommend this Web site because it is beneficial for both teachers and learners.
Subject Headings: ESL teachers, ESL learners, ESL materials