Reviews Beginner Writing

Finding thorough ESL/EFL materials is in general quite difficult.  Therefore, the Beginner Writing course available on line is a fantastic find.  The materials that I have reviewed truly meet the comprehensiveness requirement.  In addition to work on writing, the course provides exercises in reading, listening, grammar, and vocabulary.  With a tutor or teacher adding a speaking component – a not difficult task with all of the subjects and exercises already available – materials for all of the courses sometimes found in different intensive English programs are readily available.  This online course could be put into the hands of relatively inexperienced teachers and be useful to both them and their students.  And in the hands of experienced teachers it would provide excellent starting points for the type of individualized teaching of which they are capable.

In spite of the day-to-day subject matter in the course, it does require a fair amount of education on the part of students.  The approach is quite “cerebral,” with lists and grammar rules quite common.  The materials are therefore quite appropriate for pre-university intensive or part-time classes and for workplace classes for participants who have a good educational background.  As a package, they would not be appropriate for basic courses in many community-based programs or with employees who do not have a high level of literacy.  And, since the emphasis is on writing, they would in any case not be most useful in these programs.  However, the illustrations and conversations could easily be extracted for work with students in such programs.

I did have difficulty with the fairly unnatural pace and pronunciation of the conversations, but I understand that the developers are working on these.  The use of Canadian spelling would also have to be dealt with, but this should not present a great problem with the target audience for the course.  With these two caveats, I would not hesitate to recommend these materials and am in fact eager to be able to use them in some of our programs.

Eileen Prince Lou
Prince Lou Associates
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