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Grammar Advisor

Components: Website for English teachers to learn how to teach grammar Publishers: BridgeTEFL This site is designed for teachers of English as a foreign language, and the authors claim that it can provide all the tools necessary for teaching grammar in the classroom. My initial thought before reviewing this site was “Why pay a subscription […]
Reviewed for Teflnet by Janis Crolla

Components: Website for English teachers to learn how to teach grammar
Publishers:
BridgeTEFL

This site is designed for teachers of English as a foreign language, and the authors claim that it can provide all the tools necessary for teaching grammar in the classroom.

My initial thought before reviewing this site was “Why pay a subscription when there is such a wealth of free internet resources available?” With my penny pinching doubt temporarily buried, and armed with my free access password, I entered the site.

First impressions

Immediately upon entering the site it is clear what the “product” is, who it is aimed at (though I will return to this point later) and what it costs. There is of course advertising for TEFL courses and training through Bridge TEFL and other organisations, although this is limited to the page prior to log in.

The site colours work well together and I was pleased to see a white background for the text, which for me is easy on the eye.

The welcome page shows each unit and the content. The site is broken down into four units: words, sentences, tenses and teaching. These units are further divided into sections and chapters, each of which builds upon the next. There is also a Users’ Guide which is useful to read before launching into the course.

Site Features

Site features include a pop-up glossary for word definitions, jump buttons, a search engine and, last but not least, optional talking heads. Whilst talking heads may not appeal to some, they are becoming more and more popular and do give websites a familiar, more human face. On this site there are two simple, caricature-based avatars, each with their own role. One, who is male, introduces each chapter and gives section overviews. The other, who is female, clarifies specific grammar points and gives useful tips on guiding students through problematic areas of grammar.

The site is updated regularly, presumably based on questions they receive from users, and if answers are not available via the search engine, contact with a real person is another option using the “Ask the Grammar Advisor” feature.

A quiz may be taken at the end of the course, for which a certificate is awarded—a useful addition to your CV.

Navigation and Usability

The site is well organised and easily navigated, with clear instructions for inexperienced users. Pages loaded quickly and I did not encounter any distracting pop-ups. Scrolling is kept to a minimum and it is easy to jump to different places within the site.

Summary

What does this site offer which is different from other grammar sites? Well, it is interactive, everything is neatly organised in one place, and it is much easier and more time-efficient than searching the internet and amassing information from various different sites. The content, however, falls short in some areas. I tested the search engine with a couple of more advanced queries, such as inversion, and no information was available. There is also no print option, which was disappointing, and no ready-made lessonplans (for the tired teacher!), although there are plenty of tips and advice for devising lessons.

The authors should perhaps also consider introducing forums to enable users to discuss content and present divergent perspectives. When I refer to users, I mean both native and non-native teachers of English. The authors do not make any reference to non-native teachers, but I am sure they must be aware that many potential users may be non-native and have taken this into account when designing the site. In my opinion, non-native teachers with an intermediate level of English should have no problem using the site.

Returning to the cost, it is not as expensive as some pay-sites. An annual subscription costs 49 US dollars and a lifetime subscription can be purchased for 99 US dollars. I’m not convinced that a long term subscription is worthwhile, unless the site is routinely updated, but this site is certainly a useful aid for trainee or inexperienced EFL teachers and provides a lot of welcome hand-holding.

URL: http://www.grammaradvisor.com

Reviewed by Janis Crolla for Teflnet October 2008

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Teflnet : TEFL Book Reviews : Teaching : Grammar Advisor