February 6, 2011)
Since 2002, this web site has provided resources--lessons, articles, and forums for ESL/EFL teachers and students. Students can practice taking tests and quizzes and are offered information about aspects of English such as phrasal verbs and idioms. A student/teacher forum allows students to ask questions about English and receive answers from teachers. The site also provides forums, teaching suggestions, and worksheets for teachers. The section listing ESL jobs links to another site, esljobfeed.com.
The originator, editor, and site administrator is Richard Flynn, who tells his readers he has an MA in TESOL and broad teaching experience. He is based in the UK. He acknowledges that much of the site is in British English but notes the use of Canadian, American, and Pakistani English as well as other non-native varieties.
Richard Flynn and Adam King, Webmaster, co-host the site. Twenty-one contributors and staff members are listed with links to profiles and the number of their contributions. Richard Flynn has made over 8,000 contributions (lesson plans, articles), Adam King, 108, and Alex Case, 259. Although I did not click on every name, the approximately 10 links to information on other contributors showed no profile and no contributions. One showed a profile, no contribution, another a one-line profile and 2 contributions.
Richard Flynn posts in his profile that he has taught students internationally and holds a Master in TESOL. Part of his contribution is a blog about current TESOL issues. His last entry on February 11, 2011 was about “Novelty Certificates,” advising readers to beware. Adam King’s profile notes his responsibilities as Webmaster. He has no TESOL background. His contributions are posts alerting readers to interesting links and articles.
Alex Case wrote in his profile that he has been an international teacher of teachers and has published English teaching books and articles. I did find his name on many Internet sites but not as an author of printed texts or workbooks. He has, however, been very active in multiple TESOL sites in publishing articles, lesson plans, and lists. Some of his contributions at UsingEnglish.com are more valuable than others. For instance, he has lists of games to play but no context in which to understand how the particulars of the games would work to illustrate or to help students practice a particular aspect of English..
In the student/teacher forum, Richard Flynn reviews all submissions, including responses. He has posted a notice that homework will not be corrected and has asked those who post incorrect information to stop contributing.
The forum for teachers is active with discussions and suggested classroom games and techniques. Teachers also ask and give advice to each other.
One user friendly feature is “English Language Discussion Forums” that solicits users comments and questions about anything having to do with the site, its content, its format, or how to use it. The site administrators (Flynn or King) keep the site current with responses to users.
Contributions by other authors are clearly marked. Although not explicitly stated, I assume that anything not attributed is written by Richard Flynn (TDOL).
The sponsors of the site are clearly indicated as you move through the site. All of them seem to be language schools (including UC Extension). Sub-site sponsors are clearly noted. For the most part, the advertising is tastefully done without interfering with the content. I found it most irritating in some of the threads when the ads were between posts.
I recommend this site because its content is checked and updated and the quality of the information is, for the most part, good. I looked at several lesson and games, an alphabetizing exercise, learning numbers games, and worksheets with prepositions. Some of them should have undergone an editing process (adverbs are misplaced in sentences in an “adverbs of frequency” exercise) but the basic ideas are good. Teachers can use them as they are or adjust them for their own purposes.