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On first accessing the Lanternfish ESL website, www.bogglesworldesl.com, my first impressions were that the sheer amount of information on the main page felt a little overwhelming.
However, when looking in more detail, I realized that the site is divided into handy sections of BW ESL, (the homepage), Crosswords, Word Searches, Flash Cards, Verbs, Songs, Creative Writing, Worksheets, Phonics, ABCs, ESL Science, Survival English, Business English, ESL for Adults, ESL Articles, Lesson Plans, Holiday Worksheets and ESL Jobs. There are many suggested worksheets and activities on the home page, but the site is perhaps easier to use by looking at specific sections, relevant to what you are looking for, rather than skimming through a random collection of ideas.
The site is maintained and updated by a team of experienced ESL teachers in Asia and North America. The aim is stated as being to “bring printable quality resources to teachers and parents.” The site is free to use, and all resources can be used freely and amended for use, with the condition that the bogglesworld logo remains at the bottom of the page.
Great Printable Resources
The crosswords and word searches are ideal for teaching or reinforcing new vocabulary, as well as for quick fillers or ways to fill the last few minutes of a class.
There are literally hundreds of ready to print and use resources on the site, perfect for busy teachers to save time looking for, or creating things, to use in the classroom. There are many crosswords, word searches, work sheets and flashcards on an impressive range of topics. There are materials suitable for different levels of learner also, from beginners to intermediate students. The crosswords and word searches are ideal for teaching or reinforcing new vocabulary, as well as for quick fillers or ways to fill the last few minutes of a class. Within the worksheets section they are divided into different easy to use categories, thus saving time perusing many different sheets. In this section there are quizzes, themed worksheets, rhyme sheets, worksheets related to different letters of the alphabet, and more.
Great Suggested Activities
There are ideas for how to use the resources throughout the site. For example, within the ESL Flashcards section you will find activity suggestions and games to use with the printed flashcards. The information makes it easier to plan your lesson and gives more than just the basic printable materials. The section on verbs is crammed with great supplemental activities for many different areas; the information is designed to help learners increase their vocabulary and think of different ways to explain things.
There are excellent ideas for creative and fun activities, which is great for teachers who know their overall aim but are lacking imagination in how to achieve it. It really helps teachers to think outside the box and is great for when you meet a stumbling block. There are over 30 fun creative writing sheets to really get the creative juices flowing, and the Potion Book and Spell Book are fun things to do when inspiration is sometimes in short supply.
The lyrics are provided for many popular songs on ready to print sheets.
There is an extensive collection of materials to assist learners with sounds and pronunciation.
Separate Sections for Different Ages and Abilities
Dedicated ESL for Adults and Young Learners sections help you to conveniently select age or level appropriate materials. Within each section you will find common useful themes and topics that can come in great in the classroom. In the adult section in particular, there are many ideas for warmers, fillers and ice-breakers for those moments where you need to get a group speaking, engaged, fill some time on those occasions where your class ends sooner than anticipated, inject a little energy into a group or simply for a fun break.
Perfect for newly qualified teachers unsure of where to begin, a series of handy lesson plans takes you through step by step how to conduct classes.
This is an excellent resource for teaching classes basic essentials in English. It is a very practical area, which rather than focusing so much on grammar and speaking English perfectly the aim is to equip students for living in an English speaking society. Areas include hotels, airports, transport, banking, at the doctors, directions, introductions, shopping and similar.
Dedicated areas for Business English, Holiday Worksheets and ESL Science not only contain great ideas, but also help teachers to easily identify where on the website to look. The organisation is good.
The glossary of useful ESL related terms and definitions is very thorough and useful
Like many sites, the use of advertising can be very distracting. Although probably essential to keep the site running and free to use, it is somewhat annoying.
No Links to Other Sites or Resources
I could not find a list of links to any other ESL sites or resource pages. In a world where teachers try to assist and collaborate with each other, all understanding how time-pressed many teachers are, a list of other useful sites and resources would be very helpful. I also think that there could be some links for resources that are available to buy, for example books and guides.
Jobs Section Could be Fuller
There are no jobs listed on the actual bogglesworldesl site; clicking on the Jobs tab reveals a short list of sites to look at for jobs. With so many websites listing jobs for ESL and EFL teachers, I believe this section could contain a lot more. For jobs, this is not the best site to use.
No Meaningful Forums
Whilst there are forums listed, looking at these shows that they are not currently used. The last activity appears to have been in 2011, and there are no forum moderators. Whilst you can look at previous posts, there does not appear to ever have been substantial activity and interaction between site users. To post a message you must be a registered member of the site, although with no recent activity and not many members, if you did create a post, I feel the chances of a reply would be slim. This is not a site if you are looking to bounce ideas around and seek opinions from others.
Limited Contact Details
Whilst an email address is provided to contact the site, for a website that asks for ideas and contributions, I feel it may be better to have several means of contact. Or, an email address that appears to be checked by the team, rather than one that appears to be only looked at by one person. The contact email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Home Page is Overwhelming
Whilst this website contains many fantastic practical things for all teachers, I think the first impressions are that the site is disorganised and somewhat chaotic. This may put people off using the site. Don’t be deterred though, because once you start to look beyond the jumble of suggestions that first greet you, you will be pleased to see that the rest of the site is arranged fairly well!
Although very functional, I think the website could try to look a little bit more appealing. A few small pictures would create a pleasant break to the current format of mainly text. I like the simple colours used at present, however, as the site is very easy to read.
I noticed that the top tabs are sometimes different depending on what page you are looking at. It may be easy to overlook good sections if you do not click through a few sections, whilst also checking the tabs for other sections. I think it would be a good idea to have all tabs listed at the top of the screen regardless of which section you are browsing.
In conclusion, I think www.bogglesworldesl.com is an excellent website for teachers looking for printable materials and inspiration. The wide range of free material is great, and the themes and topics are those commonly encountered and taught in the classroom. The material is arranged in logical groups, making it easier to find something relevant to your teaching needs, and to your students’ learning needs. Material is easy to tweak and adapt, meaning that you have a great basis from which to start. Resource wise, this website is an invaluable tool in a busy teacher’s armoury. The lack of a forum and little information on jobs lets the site down slightly. It would be nice to have a place to share ideas and ask questions and just see the ideas of other teachers. Perhaps somewhere where teachers could share how they found the materials in their classroom, as well as what worked well for them and what did not work quite as well as anticipated. Alternatively, remove the forum link altogether, rather than suggesting there is something when there is not. I don’t know how often information is added to the side, but the existing content is very thorough and an extremely good starting point for all teachers.
Have you ever used the resources on www.bogglesworldesl.com?
How did they work for you? Did you adapt anything to make it work better, and if so, what did you do?
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.