1. Firefox is safer and more reliable. The internet is full of misleading websites that can infect your computer with viruses and worse. Firefox will protect your computer better than Internet Explorer can. Firefox also crashes less often.
2. Firefox handles non-English languages well, so it’s a better choice for multilingual people who may view e-mail and websites in several languages every day. For example, it handles Unicode much better than Internet Explorer does. In addition, you can download Firefox in many different languages.
3. Firefox is free, independent, and open source (read about the open source movement in Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Spanish, etc.). It runs on MacOS, Windows, and Linux. If you are concerned about the negative impacts of globalization, consider using Firefox and other open source programs instead of those from companies such as Microsoft.
4. Firefox has lots of free, useful “add-ons” to help you organize your learning and find new ways to learn. The add-ons can be installed by just clicking the green Install Now button. Very easy! Here are two that I especially like. You will have to get a free account with each service to use it, but that is also easy.
- StumbleUpon lets you share and discover sites on topics you’re interested in with other users all over the world. I’ve discovered some excellent English-learning resources there.
- del.icio.us lets you quickly save and sort websites you want to remember. The bookmarks can be used from any computer with an Internet connection. If you often change computers, use computer labs or Internet cafes, etc., this is a wonderful thing. You can also search other users’ “tags” to find good sites, which is very useful. The sites tend to be of higher quality compared to whatever comes up first on Google, because they have been chosen and saved by real people rather than search engines. For example, here are my bookmarks tagged “useful,” and here are my bookmarks tagged “travel.”
5. Firefox has lots of free, useful “add-ons” especially for language learners and multi-lingual people. This page contains all Firefox language and translation add-ons. (I haven’t tried all of these.) GTranslate will translate English into other languages when you highlight a word or phrase. Converter will convert time-zones and measurements. FoxLingo, Translator, and several others will translate an entire webpage. Although you shouldn’t rely on auto-translation too much, it can be useful in many situations. Right now, some of my students are using Dictionary ToolTip, which displays an English<->English definition after you double-click on any word on a webpage. It’s really good practice for them when they find difficult words, because the explanation is given in English too.
If you try any of the other add-ons, please add a review on the Firefox site for other users to read. If you find a really good one, tell me about it and I’ll write about it in the future.
There are lots of other good reasons to use Firefox, such as its built-in spell-checker, its variety of useful search boxes, better pop-up protection than IE, etc. And it has a cute logo: (You can even download wallpapers!. ;) )
Note: I don’t advise deleting IE, because a few websites will only work in IE. I keep an old copy around for those times, but Firefox is my default browser.