I find forums can be useful for answering specific questions. Or if you think you can help others. They are not a classroom or a place to hold long conversations. I think people spoil forums when they try to use the tool for a purpose it was never meant.
In forums, best comments are short and to the point. For talking longer than that, consider opening your own blog and run the show yourself.
Above all, do not get angry in a forum. If a moderator is not emerging to do their job of guaranteeing you have a nice experience sharing, please deprive them of the pleasure of your presence and contribution. If your ego got hurt, all I can say is "stiff upper lip".
Or read this and laugh out loud.
How many forum members does it take to change a lightbulb?
Forums tend to breed special characters, though. Perhaps this happens when people are more focused on themselves, creating a group to belong to -those things.
This funny example of how far a thread in a forum can go is worth a read. Hilarious, but I am sure you can spot these characters in any forum independently of the topic in question. If you find yourself in one of these roles, think twice before you post or you are running the risk of being somewhat pathetic.
Forums for Students
Using English.com forums includes a section called "Ask a Teacher", usually the most crowded section. It also offers discussions on idioms, phrasal verbs, phonetics. Worth a look.
Flo-joe Discussion Forums
If you are preparing for a Cambridge certificate, probably no other forum in the entire English speaking cyberspace will suit you best. Divided into main sections such as Writing, Vocabulary, Grammar and your experiences of FCE, CAE or CPE, these forums are lively, always active and for the most part well moderated. I am a visitor myself -you'll find me there for sure. I always enjoy the straightforward way students have to post their questions and help each other out. Highly recommended.
Dave's ESL Cafe
This forum is a classic. The threads on exams deal mainly with TOEFL, TOEIC and GRE, but you can find topics such as sports, food, pets and learning English of course.
There are two interesting new forums, but not exclusive for students.
Take this as a disclaimer.
This is a fairly new voice forum. You may write key words to help viewers to decide if they want to listen to you, but your message is in your voice. Nifty. Teachers of English have been discussing there how this can be used to help. Topics? You may find anything. Watch out.
This is a forum that allows you to debate in three different ways: openly debate, battle head-to-head and king of the hill (see the site for a detail on these). What is interesting is that even if you do not have something all that special to say, you may cast your vote on one side of the discussion or other.
Let me repeat it, this site may have all kind of content, beware what you click. I am including it here because it is possible to find real people who are not practising English. They are using real language and discussing the whole spectrum of possible topics.
This post is just a sample. The best of the best. There are a lot more! UK Student Life
for those who are travelling to the UK, Phrasebase.com, for finding people to practise any language you can think of.
One that I have always found intriguing is this Angielski forum. If only I spoke Polski! And I know they read the fceblog.
If you know of a good forum or want to share how they help you with your English, leave us a comment.
Source credit: Cartoon by Dave Walker
(Please read the special note on forums)