(Reviewed Winter 2010)
Reviewer: Ying Liu
Recommendation: Recommended with Reservations
Matthew Walsh’s EFL ESL Web site is an independent web site run by Matthew Walsh. Walsh is now teaching English in Osaka, Japan. He has been to many countries such as Taiwan, China, The Philippines, Poland, New Zealand and Bali. The web site is simply organized, not with too much decorations but easy to access to each part, such as class materials, quiz page, English games and even an on-line dictionary section. It is established to help ESL learners to gain outside class studying opportunities and provide ESL teachers with some useful teaching resources as well.
On the main page there is some information about the teacher himself and a brief introduction of his web site. There is a listen buttom on top of his introduction and by clicking on it, you will hear his voice as if he is sitting in front of you telling you his story and introducing his web site. However, I think the picture he put on top of the main page should be changed since it seems too formal and maybe a casual one will work better for students.
This web site is designed to aid both students and teachers, but I think students will find more helpful materials. There are classes sections that offer reading materials which students can study by themselves and also guidence on how to do exercises related to the learning topic. What attracted me the most is that he provides a lot of visual and audio resources, making the learning process more fun. Even for some reading materials, he recorded his own voice reading those essays to help students. His reading voice is articulate and at an appropriate pace. As I mentioned before, it’s as if Walsh was in front of me teaching all these materials.
His web site is mainly targeted at Japanse students, especially those who are taking his classes. This is one of his web site’s advantage and also its disadvantage. The pro is that his students can find this web site very useful since materials are all related to the classes that they are taking with Walsh. In some of the materials, Walsh provides Japanse translations of some English words for students’ better understanding. It is thoughtful. Also, he gives an online English-Japanese dictionary which may benefit students’ study process when they use his web site. Walsh has a student photo album area where students may find their own figures among those pictures. Though there are only a few pictures, the fact that he put this area in his web site is increasing students’ sense of belonging by letting them know that they are part of his teaching life and they are important. That will encourage students’ willingness to study. But the con is that for other students who are not taking classes with Walsh, some of the material are useless. For example, there is a Quiz Page link. I think that Walsh’s students must all have a net ID on MyGradeBook so that they can log in to take quiz, but for others they can’t get access to the quiz resouces. Besides, for ESL learners from other countries, the English-Japanse dictonary won’t work for them and also those Japanese explanations and Janpanese links will become useless.
Overall, ESL/EFL learners can find some valuable resources on this web site and benefit from those fun learning methods. One thing makes this web site attractive is that it includes a variety of kinds of media as learning materials for students. This can stimulate their eagerness to learn and make them interested in it. But some of the web sites it offers do not exsist any more; it seems that this web site hasn’t been updated for a long time. So I can only recommend it with reservations.
Subject Headings: EFL students, Japan, links for teachers, online dictionary