Wednesday, September 16, 2015

ESL Website Evaluation - 10%

Hola guys. ..=)
For this particular assignment, I have decided to evaluate this ESL website

1. What does the website attempt to teach?

This website obviously offers to teach English grammar and extensive British English vocabulary sections along with  free English magazines, diary, games, lessons, quizzes and tests as well as an insight into British cultures, traditions and customs. Instead of offering all these kinds of grammar elements, I believe that this site also serves beyond that whereby it also helps students in terms of sentence structure which apparently will contribute to their writing skills. Apart from writing skills, this ESL website also stresses on the reading, listening and speaking skills. This could be seen through its drop-down menu where it gives freedom for students or teachers to monitor their progress in those mentioned skills. For examples, in one sections of the drop-down menu, there are some tips on how to improve your English, listening, speaking, writing, pronunciation, vocabulary as well as grammar. It also has some notes on the learning skills, learning styles and learning strategies. 

This site also provides graphic notes, interactive games, quizzes as well as tests. There are about 12 units of lessons in this site and these units have been further divided into 3-4 more categories. Once the students have completed each topic, they can test their understanding through the provided exercises. This site offers various exercises in order to help learners to improve their proficiency in English. The examples of tests that are available in this site are Business English, Confusing Words, Dictation, Gap Fill Grammar, Memory Placement, Reading and Comprehension, Sorting and Matching, Spelling Test, as well as Vocabulary. The immediate feedback is available to each of the tests, hence, the learners can immediately learn from their mistakes while they are taking the tests. These available tests and quizzes are arranged according to the difficulty such as beginner, intermediate and advanced so that they can cater all proficiency levels of students. Thus, in my opinion, I personally think that this website is suitable and helpful for different kinds of learners at a given time and at the use of particular setting. 

2. What are the learners/visitors required to do?

Learners and the visitors should have basic computer skills such as browsing the internet. This site does not require any registration or fees so learners and visitors can freely use this site anywhere and anytime that they want. In order to explore the content of this site, they can just choose whether they want to learn English from unit to unit or they can also read the notes or tips that are available in the drop-down menu. Furthermore, they can straight away choose whether they want to learn English, play language games, learn new vocabularies, read magazines, chat with other people, ask questions in forum or take a test. As this site are a wealth source of learning, there are plenty of external links whereby  learners and the visitors are  only required to click them in order to get access to other website, pages or application. In addition, there is also a section for teachers. This section provides advices for the educators on how to use this site in order to enrich their teaching and learning process in the classroom. It provides free lesson plans and handouts and teachers can customize them according to their students' need.

3. While you are going through the website, does it remind you of anything you do in a classroom?

This site does remind me of things that I do in classroom with teachers, fellow classmates or in my self study. These how it reminds me :

  • The lessons have been arranged according to the level of difficulty. This is normally what a teacher does in a classroom. In this site, the topic starts with basic knowledge as basic as ABC and how the letters sound in English (Phonetics and Phonology are applied here). Thus, it really helps the second or third language learner to start learning English because it is very important to know how to pronounce the words correctly. There are play buttons in this site whereby learners can click on them in order to listen to the respective sound that he/she want to listen to. This part somehow reminds me of my primary school days (perhaps kindergarten as well??) where teachers would show some flashcards and we had to follow how teachers pronounce the words. Oh, how I miss my school day's moment ...
  • Secondly, this site also includes the videos and songs for each of the topics. Learners and visitors will definitely enjoy this kind of learning. In addition, learners can enhance their understanding regarding certain topics based on the guidelines given via the songs and videos, This ultimately reminds me of my English teacher during my secondary school years whereby we will learn parts of speech through songs. My teacher believed that chalk and talk method is a really boring technique to teach, thus she would always show us videos and songs so that we would be "attached" to English. The most memorable moment that I can recall is we used to listen to Westlife's song Season In the Sun in order to learn about simple past tense.

4. Does the website present learners with something that cannot be done in a textbook /workbook? 

Yes, of course. The resources such as notes, exercises and quizzes are presented in various forms such as animations, video, images, songs ; just to name a few. Thus, the students with various kinds of learning ability and learning styles will definitely gain benefits from this site. Other than that, this site also provides immediate feedback and the learners can check their progress whether they have obtained the required score or not and this immediate feedback will not be offered through the textbooks.  Besides offering the learners with various kinds of activity or resource materials, this site also enables the students to have the opportunity to join E-pals and chatting room whether with native or non-native speakers. This will help the learners to gain confidence in using English and learn more about the ways the native speakers use expressions in their daily life conversations.  Apart from that, learners can join forum through this site where they can post questions, exchange ideas and discuss the problems they face in English online. 

5. Can you pinpoint some theories of language learning/or teaching underlying the application?

I believe that this site operates based on several theories and the first which is apparent is behaviorist theory. This theory has been founded by Skinner and Thorndike and though this site cannot offer the tangible rewards, but as far as I noticed, it employs kind of positive reinforcement. Let say a student managed to answer the quiz or test and got all correct, then they would be some words of recognition such as "Correct! Well Done!". This somehow will definitely motivate the learners to do more exercises via the site as the praises acts as the catalyst for them to have more learning, In addition to that, as this site focused more on grammar and lexical items, I think that Grammar Translation Method has been applied here as well. This is crystal clear as learners will learn grammar rules through notes and then practice the rules by doing grammar drills. Apart from that, this site puts strong emphasis on student-centered principle that allows learners to work on their own. Such materials are structured and embody two important features which are interactive learning and individual learning. 

6. Does the website fulfill the potential for language learning?

In this case, this site does fulfill the criterion for language learning. Like what have been discussed earlier, this educational site offers English grammar and extensive British English vocabulary sections along with free English magazine, diary, lesson, and test. Thus it is indeed a language learning medium especially for those who need extra attention or additional practices to enhance their English language skills. Other than that, there are notes as well which caters most of the English parts of speech such as verb to be, adjectives, adverbs and so on. The drop-down menu also provide the tips for the students or teachers to monitor their progress in English such as how to improve their fluency in speaking, listening, reading, writing, their types of learning styles, strategies and etc.Furthermore, the notes and the exercises which are available in this site are helpful for the learners as they can use the knowledge in the real world, whereby they are able to use the authentic expressions while communicating with other people. After reading the notes and doing all of the exercises, it is an assurance that to some extent, the learners can understand on how to communicate and use the elements of grammar . Plus, this site is practical and user friendly as learners and visitors do not have to install certain software in order to get access to the materials. Thus, I want to reemphasize that this site absolutely fulfill the potential for language learning. 

7. Would you like to use this application yourself in your future work?

Yes, I will definitely use this application in my future work and if possible I want to make it compulsory to my students. The main reason is because it has the potential for language learning and thus, for sure will give benefits for both; teachers and students. The teacher's section provide advice on how to enrich lesson along with fully printable handouts, so I can make variety to my lesson in the future. I believe that students nowadays love the lesson which incorporate the use of ICTs, therefore, the videos, interactive language games and online quizzes are suitable for this current generation. Apart from that, this website acts as a good application as it promotes self-independent learning to students. So, definitely, I will make use of this wonderful site for my future work. 

That's all for now. Till we meet again guys =p

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