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Website of the Month - June 2002

The Citizen’s Advice Bureaux (CAB) www.adviceguide.org.uk 

The site was completely relaunched in the autumn of 2002 - this is a revised review

Value for ELT: realia/ culture background/ culture projects/ general interest

Producer of site (and intended audience)

The CAB is a long established voluntary organisation (although fully-trained) giving advice (and sometimes practical help) to people on every area of life where things can go wrong - especially legally. They describe themselves as “independent, confidential, impartial and free” and have a considerable reputation in the UK where they are made use of a great deal. They try to ensure your rights are not abused by any private or public organisation and their perspective is that of the person ‘on the street’ Their audience is everyone in the UK and their reputation is based on reliability and success in taking up ‘cases’ - so their website should reflect this. Information on the very interesting organisation itself can be found at www.nacab.org.uk

Description of site

An extraordinary range of themes (several hundred) on every aspect of life in the UK - from abortion to youth courts. Examples of entries include paternity leave, prisons, racism, elections, gay rights, body piercing and students, while the section on visitors discusses visas and health rights for foreigners (perhaps of direct interest to you). Within each entry there is discussion of common problems and external links to appropriate documents and organisations. Issues are now grouped under the main headings of money, family, daily life and rights on the homepage - try the one which seems closest to what you want.

Accessibility ****

After the relaunch the site is no longer as accessible - unless you know exactly what you want from the search engine (the very useful A-Z has gone). In the top right you can choose between England, Scotland, Wales and N. Ireland - which emphasises the differences between the four countries when real, practical advice is needed. Also on the right is a list of new entries showing you what issues are ‘hot’ in the UK at the moment. The site is simple and plain in keeping with its aim of getting people in need to the information they want with minimum time and fuss.

Range of themes covered *****

Language level

Native - but straightforward as the aim of the CAB is to be available to everyone in the UK.

Value for students 

Age:  13+ ** 16+ ***** 19+ *****  Lang. level:  pre-int/ int ***  upper-int/ adv ***** 

Assumes adult knowledge and ideas in general - but there is information on children’s issues such as bullying. Allows learners access to reliable and up-to-date information on a huge range of social issues from the perspective of UK natives. Its benefits are worth the struggle with language and teacher support necessary. Very useful for projects.

Value for teachers *****

Excellent for background - good source of supplementary material (or updated) on coursebook themes. For more students with more advanced language skills materials could be downloaded for use in class. Can be recommended to students for their projects.

Overall value *****+

Recommended very highly. Excellent as an entry point into UK life giving a strong sense of reality. I cannot think of any other site which could come close to it. Excellent starting point for intercultural projects challenging students to find the Polish equivalents. Try out this site, follow up an issue that concerns you in Poland and get a feel of what happens in the UK - perhaps start with Education choices at 18 and you and your students will get a strong feeling of the issues and pressures facing both potential students and their parents at this age. A good site for UK natives to keep themselves up-to-date.


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