The Internet TESL Journal: BusyTeacher's Detailed Review
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The Internet TESL Journal is a website that contains both theoretical and practical information for teachers of English as a Second and Foreign Language.
The site has journal archives from the TESL Journal published from 1995 through 2010, which can be accessed easily through a user-friendly search. The website describes itself as “an online resource book for teachers who can refer to our published articles on teaching techniques and other things of interest to EFL and ESL teachers.” This is the main feature of the website, but there are also lessons and lesson plans available. The articles are an excellent source of theoretical and practical information, and the lessons are great ways to actually execute the theories. Lessons are divided into the following categories: reading, Grammar, student, autonomy, Business English, conversation, cooperative learning, culture, games, Internet, student motivation, learning, music, multi-skill, presentation, pronunciation, travel, videos, listening, vocabulary, and writing. This wide variety of topics and skills are available by following this link.
Perhaps an even better resource is the link to student exercises available at http://a4esl.org/. This independent site has a great mix of content and exercise that students can access for independent practice. It’s a wonderful place to send motivated students who want extra practice or those who are struggling in particular areas.
In addition to Journal articles, lessons for teachers and direct resources for students to use for practice, there is also a section on techniques for instructors. This is an excellent place for newer teacher in the ESL or EFL classroom to find information about methodology and the “how-to” of teaching. It’s a wonderful practical resource.
Theory and Practice Come Together
I like this site for novice or inexperienced teachers, in particular. It’s excellent for graduate students and those conducting basic research or literature reviews. It’s a place to find the theoretical information necessary to truly understand how to teach English as a Second or Foreign language, especially for those teachers who have completed a quick certification program rather than an entire M.A. program. I would highly recommend it for anyone looking for current or archived research in the field. Meanwhile, the practical lessons and techniques are perfect for those who are ready to jump in.
Conversation Questions Categories
Wow! This section of the site is one of the best practical resources offered by iteslj.org. For listening and speaking conversation classes, teachers can access this tremendous inventory of questions, all of which are categorized by topic at this link.
Here’s how the website suggests using these questions in the classroom:
Print out the questions and let students work in pairs asking the questions alternately.
Divide the questions into 2 pages, give half the questions to one student and half to another and let them work in pairs asking each other the questions. Students should be encouraged not to look at the other student's paper.
In a small class, the teacher may want to use the questions to get a conversation going about a given topic. In this case, the students aren't given a copy of the questions.
You may save the page "as text", edit it to be more appropriate for your own students. For example:
Delete questions which you feel are inappropriate.
Localize the questions to your country or city.
Sort the questions into a sequence which you like.
Add any additional questions you can think of. (It would be nice to also add those questions to the master list, so all teachers can use them.)
Occasionally Difficult to Access
The website has a strange web address, which can make it tricky to access, especially for first-time users. Additionally, some of the portions of the website have been down at times when I have tried to visit them. This can certainly be disappointing, if not highly inconvenient if one is relying on having access to particular content.
Some Sub-par Resources
If students are accessing this website independently, they may come in contact with some less-than-ideal content. In particular, the section on jokes is pretty awful, and I would hope my students will not try to use them. Any attempt to use these as humor will probably not go over well. Here’s an example of a joke from the site:
Teacher: Maria, please point to America on the map. Maria: This is it. Teacher: Well done. Now class, who found America? Class: Maria did.
In sum, iteslj.org does have some great content.
It’s a neat site for beginning teachers to find research and practical techniques and lessons, but it’s not especially reliable. I like the link to exercises for students available on the site, and I would definitely provide this to my students who are seeking extra practice. While it’s not my favorite site, perhaps others of you have had better success with it.
Is anyone out there a big fan? We would love to get other perspectives or tips on how to make the most of the resources available.
This is a guest review by an independent author. This review reflects the opinions of the author and not necessarily those of BusyTeacher.org as a publication.