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Website of the Month - September 2002

About Britain www.aboutbritain.com 

See also heritage, holidays and countryside links.

Value for ELT: tourism/ culture background/ culture projects/ general interest/ history

Producer of site (and intended audience)

Audience - potential tourists. Excelsior Information Systems Ltd is the producer - a commercial software company acting as a link between tourist attractions and potential tourists looking for somewhere to go. There is no advertising and it’s not obvious how they earn an income.

Description of site

In effect a portal for tourist attractions throughout Britain. The homepage has tourist-type news e.g. of events or new attractions. On the left side of the homepage the links to Attractions and Towns (524 of them) are the most useful. Each entry has a description of the attraction in a standard format and there are always links to the websites of the attractions themselves - which are variable in quality.

Accessibility ****

Good. However with such a huge site they cannot keep up-to-date completely and there are some external links currently not working. There is a search engine at the top but it is not effective - when you know exactly what tourist site you, want 300 internal links are not at all helpful. If you know the name of the attraction, go to the ‘spin-off’ site www.enjoybritain.comand use its search facility to go directly to the external links.

Range covered ***

The range is great, but certainly not comprehensive - especially of smaller or specialist attractions, and it is also obvious is that it does not include National Trust or English Heritage sites. The National Trust is easily the biggest and most important conserver of historic buildings and landscapes in the UK so a visit to its website www.nationaltrust.org.uk and (www.nts.org.uk for Scotland) is necessary to get a more complete picture. These websites have been relaunched recently, are now of high quality and much easier to navigate - definitely worth a visit. English Heritage www.english-heritage.org.uk is the government organisation with a similar function but its website can be slow, is over-fussy and provides much less actual information.

Language level

Native - but popular and accessible, as with most tourist materials today

Value for students 

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

Good for following up personal interests in their own time and finding material as well as for projects.

Value for teachers ****

Very good for directing students who are doing projects to find information in ‘original’ form - and allow them to find more unusual sites. Very good for individualised work. However you will need carefully constructed tasks to make sure they interpret sites rather than simply copy the material without understanding it.

Overall value ***

For bringing together a very wide range of tourist attractions and websites it is a very practical, if inevitably uncritical, resource. It boasts that it is “the premier online guide to Great Britain” and “an unparalleled source of information”. If it is there ought to be a better one though. Like most such organisations it’s what they don’t tell you that matters - the absence of National Trust and English Heritage properties is serious and no doubt there are other omissions. At least two of the photos they use to introduce sections of Attractions are of National Trust properties!!!


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