(reviewed Winter 2010)
Reviewer: Kinda Al Rifae
TEFL.net is a site for ESL teachers and staff. It is part of the English Club.Com Web site, which is based in Cambridge, England and is designed for both students and teachers of English. Josef Essberger, a British teacher with teaching experience that dates from 1990, is the founder and owner of the site. TEFL.net was founded in 1998, a year later after English Club started. It is written in British English, although for American English Webster's New World College Dictionary is used as a reference. A teacher navigating this site is supposed to find lesson plans and ESL products, make worksheets, post a resume, look for ESL jobs, discuss teaching issues in teaching forums, and read reviews of some TEFL books. Access to all parts of TEFL.net is free, and the site gets its costs paid by advertisers and sponsors.
There are many good things about TEFL. net. As a teacher, I will be visiting this site. The first link in every main tab in the home page is FAQ. Those questions are always useful and save the user's time. The service that the TEFL Help Desk provides for teachers is a good one. ESL teachers who have concerns or questions about teaching can send their questions to a woman called Lucy, an experienced teacher, who will reply. Other users can also respond by answering or commenting on the questions. Sampling some of those questions and answers showed that users were able to make use of such online service.
Although there are no actual lesson plans in the way we know them (goal, objectives, procedure, conclusion), there are some ideas and activities that can be used in the classroom. Some of them can really enrich an ESL class with fun. However, organizing the games and activities under titles, such as games for teaching grammar, would make it easier for the teacher to get what he is looking for. Teachers using this site can also design some worksheets or find some ready ones, which is also helpful.
The section ESL Jobs has some good links that give teachers information about the teaching profession in general. Particularly, ESL Jobs Discussion is an interesting link since users can discuss issues about ESL jobs with other teachers all around the world. Tips for writing a resume and the interview questions that teachers should ask to a panel are examples of the topics discussed in this section.
Similarly, TEFL. net articles and book reviews can also be useful resources for teachers. Articles appear under different headings such as Career, Classroom Solutions, Teacher Techniques, etc. They are all written by teachers or writers interested in the field. Those articles give ideas and tips of special interest to teachers. For example, an article entitled Giving Workshops recommends using workshops to boost a teacher's CV. It also gives suggestions showing how to conduct a successful workshop. The book reviews available on this site are written by a big group of writers. The books chosen are relevant to the field, varied in content, and current. The reviews are well done, and information about the reviewers is provided at the end of each review.
TEFL.net says it does not "offer TEFL training courses and is not associated with any TEFL or ESL training body. Nor does TEFL.net accredit or recognize specific TEFL courses." This, I think, gives credibility to the Web site, which has advertisements for some online sites that offer teaching certificates and courses. Some ads are for companies that promise jobs opportunities.
In spite of the above advantages, there seem to be some aspects that can be improved. The TEFL Course Database claims to help users "search for TEFL-type courses worldwide, whether called TEFL, TESL or TESOL courses." I did a search under San Francisco and I found few available. When I searched others cities, no matches were found. In addition to that, most of those courses listed in that page are available in the UK. Another section that can be improved is the TEFL Glossary. This link takes the site user to a list of terms that ESL/EFL teachers may find useful during various stages of their training and career. Although the glossary is comprehensive, it is ordered alphabetically, and this makes terms related to different topics (language acquisition, grammar, pronunciation, teaching methods, strategies, testing, and learners) all mixed together. Listing those terms under titles would probably help the teacher to locate the term that he wants to know more about easily. Finally, some links appear under more than one tab. For example, under the Teacher Training tab, there are two links TEFL Courses and the TEFL Training FAQ. These two appear under another tab named TEFL Courses.
Overall, TEFL.net is a good Web site for teachers. There are some good resources there and teachers have the chance to discuss issues related to teaching with others in the field who might be more experienced.
Subject Headings: ESL teachers, training, classroom resources,TESOL jobs