Evan welcome and thanks for your interest in the site.
Does this site aid ESL students?
Obviously, my answer will be biased, and it should really be down to the learners to judge this. However, traffic levels suggest that the learners using it find it beneficial. As it is an online resource, measuring the degree of benefit objectively is impossible, as there are no defined learning outcomes. People come, and many return, which is the only way a site can define its use. Other posters will be able to give you their impressions; I can only talk from the perspective of making the site.
Firstly, as the learner decides where to go and what to look at or do, the learner has total autonomy, widely viewed as beneficial in pedagogical theory, though this is in common with many other websites. The differences between sites would, therefore, be primarily qualitative. Many of the features we have are to be found elsewhere. There are, for instance, thousands of forums for language, though lively and active ones constitute a small number- many are rather barren.
The forum allows students to ask questions and get answers from a number of people, teachers, those interested in language and other learners. This is a wider perspective than the classroom, where there is a single teacher. This is one of the key benefits in my opinion.
In other areas of the site, learners can practise and test their knowledge in the Quizzes, which is another page that gets a lot of traffic. While quizzes are not a innovation in language teaching, students can access a huge range freely at their convenience, can take things more than once, etc. In the Member Area, they can log results for the tests they take there.
There's a considerable amount of information available about the language in the Reference section, so learners do have many possibilties. This section contains some of the most popular sections. The Grammar Glossary
is the busiest area of the site, with much of the traffic coming from search engines and sites like www.onelook.com, which uses the Glossary in its database.
In short, the site provides information, allows students to test their knowledge and also to interact with teachers and others.
Who uses this site mostly, male, female, high school students, adults?
Apart from some idea of where they come from, we obviously don't have any data on visitors to the site, except where they register. However, from an analysis of the sort of sites that link to us, the emphasis is on older students. We have links from universities and sites for adult learners, but very few from the primary sector.
We don't collect data about gender in the registration for the Forum and Members' area, so I can only give an impression. We started another forum in Delphiforums.com before we started the site and it was noticed there that there tended to be a heavy male majority, and I have not felt the same here. I'd say we have a reasonable balance here, but that is only based on posters where I know the gender, from the name or the person saying so. In many other cases it can be hard to guess as people use screen names, which often give no clue.
I'd say the majority of our users are adults. Firstly, the site is designed for adults (I have always taught adults) and there are sites specifically for young learners. While we do have some young learners here, high school and college/university students are here in far higher numbers.
You can get a breakdown of the first languages spoken by members, which will give some idea as to the diversity of the community. We do get people from all over the world.
What it is the purpose of this site?
To try to provide a worthwhile ESL resource online.
The history of the site?
We started the site at the start of 2002. We already had our Delphiforum running and decided we wanted to have a site where we could do a lot more. Since then we have continued to add sections and keep things updated as regularly as possible.
Who is responding to this email, an employee of the website, or a teacher?
I am a teacher and set the site up with Adam (Red5, the webmaster).
Does this help, Evan? Feel free to ask anything else.