If you'd ask me what my favourite or most visited websites are, Flickr.com, BBCNews.com, the BangkokPost.com, Answers.com, TheFreeDictionary.com, Hotmail and Google would probably top that list. I also surf regularly to quite a few EFL websites, but most of them are just one hit pit stops to me. I don't often return to one and usually use Google as a starting point to find whatever I need. Until I stumbled upon ESLprintables (www.eslprintables.com).
ESLprintables is a website where EFL teachers from all over the world upload and share their home-made worksheets. Thousands of spiffy worksheets are available for download, all for free. Now don't stop reading at this point to visit the site, eagerly expecting to siphon off all those materials, because you won't be able to. Let me explain.
Browsing and searching the site can be done by anyone, but if you want a piece of the action, you'll need to register - a process which is free and doesn't take long. After that, you'll be a registered member of the site, but you'll still be unable to download any goodies from the treasure trove. That's because the philosophy behind the site is to give before you take.
In order to download the worksheets you so desperately want when you had a peek, you'll have to upload some of your own work first. Each worksheet you upload gives you one point and each download of your worksheets by another member gets you one point as well. You can then spend your points downloading the stuff you want. Once you have reached 30 points, you'll be automatically upgraded to premium member, which means you'll be able to download 30 recent worksheets for free each day. By the way, if you share quality worksheets, you'll achieve 30 downloads in no time.
If this sounds too complicated or you're in dire need of a specific worksheet, ESLprintables is not the site you're looking for. Instead, you should view this site as a platform where teachers share some of their best creations with others worldwide, free of charge. Should you ever decide to give it a go, get some quality worksheets ready to upload. Make sure it's your own work, as copied, scanned or stolen material isn't tolerated on the site. Moderators check uploads for violations of the site's rules, and flag and remove unacceptable worksheets. By the way, every member with more than 1,000 downloads automatically becomes a moderator.
Although this site is a goldmine when you're looking for worksheets, there's more to it. Once you get into creating and uploading your own materials, you might get addicted. You'll start excitedly monitoring your worksheets, the number of downloads you've accumulated and the comments other members make on your worksheets. The forum on the site is rather small and basic, but provides a simple way of addressing the whole community should the need arise. Apart from printable worksheets, members can also upload PowerPoint presentations and make online exercises (this is done with cloud software; instructions provided online).
With 180,246 registered users and 162,784 printables (on May 21, 2009), ESLprintables is unquestionably a popular EFL resource site. The fact that there are more registered users than worksheets may indicate that some cybernauts don't bother to read the rules and policy before signing up. The site isn't a money spinner, quite on the contrary. It's a private initiative from a Spanish teacher named Victor, has no advertising and limited server space. In fact, worksheet uploads are limited to 300Kb and presentations to 500Kb, so the site is definitely no alternative to file-hosting or file-sharing websites like Scribd.com, iFile.it or torrents.
You can check out the thousands of printables on www.eslprintables.com. To access my own materials, you can go straight to www.eslprintables.com/buscador/author.asp?user=60456#thetop.
If you can't be bothered creating and sharing materials or need some conversation topics fast, feel free to downloads my ‘Let's talk about' conversation worksheets on file-hosting site www.scribd.com/PhilipRoeland (free registration).