(reviewed Fall 2008)
Reviewer: Roselyn Gomez
Recommendation: Not recommended
This Web site is a free resource for foreign language instructors that provides “culturally neutral” cartoon depictions of various nouns, pronouns, verbs, and adjectives. The clip art can be easily copied and modified in size, but changes to the drawings themselves may require a graphic editor. Any commercial use requires prior permission, and all users are asked to acknowledge the site as a source. The project is supported by Purdue University, and the director of the site is Kazumi Hatasa, a professor of Japanese, at the university. The Web site can also be viewed in Japanese, but the drawing labels are in English.
When I initially viewed this site, I was impressed by the simplicity of its drawings, and I saw their potential to illustrate abstract concepts for those beginning to learn English. However, upon further viewing, I find that I am unable to recommend this site for several reasons.
One reason is that some of the drawings do not illustrate their concepts clearly. A few of the verbs and adjectives, in particular, are vague and could indicate different things. For example, the drawing for warm shows a man sweltering under a bright sun whose rays are directed at the flowers at his feet. The picture could easily suggest hot or summer instead. Call shows a man with his mouth wide open, which could also mean yell or scream.
Another reason I disapprove of this site is the limited number of drawings available. Some basic emotions, such as happy and sad, are not even represented. The creator advises that the project is ongoing, but the page has not been updated since 2003. Some of the drawings are used on other Web sites, but there has not been any information added to this particular site.
The worst aspect of the site, though, is that many of the verbs are incorrectly labeled. Some are not pluralized when necessary (e.g., wash dish and wash hand). Others are missing a preposition (e.g., listen music). Still others are in the wrong tense (e.g., lose instead of lost). Also, compounds are formed where they do not exist (e.g., gainweight, geton, and getup). These errors are inexcusable because there are too many ways to verify this information.
I can only assume that the mistakes are due to the fact that the creator of the site is Japanese, and English may not be his first language. Even so, I am certain that he could have found someone at Purdue in the English Department to proofread the material before it was published. It was irresponsible for a college professor to post this information on the World Wide Web, where it could be viewed by English learners, without first verifying that it was correct.
In summary, the lack of site maintenance, the limited number of drawings available, and the numerous errors in content all lead me to disapprove of this Web site. I would only recommend its use if a teacher needs a drawing that cannot be found elsewhere.
Subject Headings: ESL teachers, ESL materials, clip art