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Houghton Mifflin Textbook--8 Common ESL Errors

Reviewed on February 9, 2010

Reviewer: Tacey Rodgers

Recommendation: recommend


The webpage is published by Cengage Learning.  It is a site that is associated with the textbook Evergreen: A Guide to Writing, Seventh Edition by Susan Fawcett.  Cengage Learning is an authority on this subject because they are a company that delivers customized learning solutions for universities, instructors, students, libraries, government agencies, corporations, and professionals.  They are a worldwide profit company.  They have commitments with governmental agencies, which qualifies them to be contracted with the national standards for both K-12 and higher education within the USA.  They do not cite their credentials, but they do provide links to press releases, leading brands and catalogs.  Cengage is not endorsed by other organizations, but there are several partnerships with other publishing companies.  The site does not contain any articles, so there are no footnotes needed.

The intended audience is for students, teachers, professionals (those willing to purchase products), and investors (those who willing to invest in Cengage).  The level of the material is advanced.  The site would be most beneficial if the instructor guides the student(s) through the site before requiring they access the site independently.  The time period covered seems to be current, meaning the information presented is covering the current errors made by ESL students.  The geographical area is that that applies to ESL learners; the website does not apply to EFL learners because the title of the website implies that the decision in selecting errors found to be most common, did not consider those found in EFL contexts.  The website explicitly states its commitments to US standards of teaching English.  The information is a subset of more comprehensive information as there are many errors made by ESL students.  The information is abridged by Cengage in order to explain the eight most common errors instead of addressing all potential errors.

The information is presented as fact.  The information seems to be accurate information that was pulled from Fawcett’s writing handbook.  There does not seem to be a bias culturally or politically, but the mentioning of Fawcett’s handbook implies connection between her and the information presented.  If the instructor or student finds the information helpful, they may feel indirectly pressured into purchasing the book for more assistance/practice.  This bias is not clearly stated, only implied.

There is no date indicated on the web page.  The webpage does not explicitly state how frequently the information is updated.  Fawcett’s book is the seventh edition; since the website is associated with her book, it is implied that when there is a newer edition of her book available, the website will be updated accordingly.  There is no information obviously out of date.


The validity of the site is highly connected to Fawcett’s handbook.  If the handbook is held in high validity, therefore, the site will be also.  The information is clearly written and well organized.  There is no new research being reported, only research associated with the seventh edition of Fawcett’s handbook.  The author, Cengage, implies agreement with the information presented in Fawcett’s handbook as it listed as a source on their website.  Cengage does not list agreement or disagreement with the scholar, but partnering with certain authors implies an agreement.  The information presented is not the first of its kind in the discipline.

The presenter, Cengage, is not directly selling their product but all material presented on their website is connected to a textbook or software product that can be purchased.  The page does have a corporate sponsor: Cengage Learning.  There are also links to other corporate publishing companies.  There are no hidden costs; the costs that are involved are explicitly stated and explained.  There is no requirement for personal identification.

I do recommend this site to be used by both ESL and EFL instructors (with reservation to EFL instructors because site does not explicitly state relevance or consideration in EFL contexts).  I recommend this site because of its clean and orderly appearance.  The source (where the information is taken from) is clearly identified.  The warning that I would give to the instructors prior to their use is for them to not be pressured into purchasing any of the material associated with or suggested by the publishers.

Subject Headings: ESL teachers, learner errors