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Опубликован: 18.11.2015 | Уровень: для всех | Доступ: платный
Лекция 8:

Visual Aids

Searching the Internet

The greatest source of information not in book form is, of course, the Internet. However, its sheer size and range make it potentially awkward for users, who often find it difficult to locate the exact information they are looking for. This is partly because searching is a skill in itself which students and teachers need to acquire. For example, suppose students were doing a project on the theatre where Shakespeare's plays were first performed and they wanted to know its location, it would be unwise of them just to type the word Shakespeare into the popular search engine Google, because they would be offered more than 51 million sites and the vast majority of them would be irrelevant. However, if they typed in what they were really looking for in more detail (e.g. Shakespeare Elizabethan theatre location), they would only be offered around 420,000 sites (at the time of writing), and the first few would be of immediate relevance. Many of the others would include the words theatre and location, but would have nothing to do with Shakespeare. A way of searching precisely, however, is to type what we are looking for between inverted commas, e.g. ‘Shakespeare in Love' (the name of a fictional film about Shakespeare's life). We will then get references to that film, whereas if we type in the phrase without the inverted commas, we will get many hits about Shakespeare, and many unconnected hits on the subject of love. It is important if we want student searches to be successful, therefore, that the students know how to search effectively. Both teachers and students can, as we have said, find almost anything they want on the Internet. They can go to online newspapers or broadcasting associations such as the BBC or CNN; they can find song lyrics or access history sites; they can find film guides and jokes sites. Two particular kinds of site are worth talking about in more detail, however.

  • Using encylopedias: there are a number of encyclopedia sites (and other information sites, such as biography.com) on the Internet. In their book about using technology in language teaching, Gavin Dudeney and Nicky Hockly suggest giving students charts to fill in about, say, a country, as part of a longer project (Dudeney and Hockly 2007: 46-51). They can be asked to locate the capital city, population, main languages, main cities, economy, geography, sea ports, political system, etc. Students in groups of three can look for this information on three different sites: encyclopedia.com, britannica.com and wikipedia.com (Wikipedia is an encyclopedia where any user can add to or change the information available). They can then share their information and see if the three sites agree on the information they looked for.
  • Webquests: a particular type of information is provided by a kind of (Internet-based) extended project called a webquest. This employs Internet resources for students to use for researching, but rather than have students search on the Internet for themselves, in a webquest the teacher has prepared an introduction and then given students ‘clickable’ sites to visit.

In the following web quest, designed by Philip Benz with help from Frederic Chauthard and Michele Maurice, students have to write a report about living conditions in the tenements built for immigrants to New York in the 1820S and 1830s. In the Introduction phase, students are told about the construction of tenement houses and how people were crammed into them as tightly as possible. They are told: You are a member of the Council of Hygiene of the Citizen's Association of New York. Your job is to investigate the living conditions in tenements and make recommendations to city officials concerning changes that need to be made. In the Task phase, students are told that they must investigate the living conditions and write a report summarising the situation and offering solutions. They are told to use worksheets provided for them and follow the report template they are given. They are advised that they can always consult the additional resources sections on the website. In the Process phase, (see Figure 8.3), students are given investigation stages, and, crucially, links to click on which will take them to websites that the teacher has selected so that they can complete their task.

The Process (from 'life in the Tenements' at www.ardecol.ac-grenoble.fr/english/tenement/tenementquest.htm)

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Рис. 8.3. The Process (from 'life in the Tenements' at www.ardecol.ac-grenoble.fr/english/tenement/tenementquest.htm)

Finally, in the Evaluation phase, students are shown how (and according to what criteria) their work will be assessed.

The point about webquests is that the Internet research is a stage towards some other goal (in this case a report). And, thanks to the wealth of material available on the Internet, students can do significant research (including text, film and audio clips) at a computer screen rather than having to go to a library.

Practising language on the Internet and on CD-ROM

There are many websites on the Internet for students to practise language. Some of them are based round a school or an organisation (and need the user to register for the site), whilst others are free. Practice material is also available on CD-ROM. Some of the material is related to a particular coursebook, while other material is free-standing (i.e. it is not associated with any particular program).

Ways of composing

Computers and the Internet offer many opportunities for students and teachers to compose material in ways other than using pencils, pens and paper. We will examine some of the increasingly common methods of creating material both by and for students and teachers.

Word processing, word editing

In our everyday lives computers are used for writing letters, putting books together, composing reports, completing homework assignments and making lists. Of course, this can all be done by using a pen and paper. In a classroom situation when groups of writers are involved in a joint composition, we can group the students around a flip chart and have them work together with one student acting as scribe. However, when students working in groups are using word processing software, anyone can offer and execute changes without causing unattractive crossing out, or forcing the scribe to throw a page (or sheet of paper) away and start again. Word processed work allows teachers to give feedback in a different way, too. We can use dedicated software sub menus such as Track Changes in Microsoft Word to show where things have gone wrong or simply give comments and corrections in a different font colour from the student's original text.

Mousepals, chat and blogging

Before computers, teachers were keen for their students to correspond with penpals in different countries. This was to give students both meaningful and memorable experiences of using English, and also to help them to an appreciation of different cultures around the world. Penpals have now morphed into mousepals and keypals; students can send each other emails instead of letters, and where such contact is well supervised and actively promoted by teachers, the benefits are soon evident. However, students will need constant attention to help them to sustain their motivation for the task. Students can also be involved in chatting online. Indeed, many of them already do it both in their first language and in English. Teachers can organise real-time chatting events using programs such as Googletalk or MSN Messenger. It is also easy to set up groups where people exchange messages with each other, such as Yahoo Groups where people who share the same interest can post messages and reply to them. All of this connectivity allows people to talk, whether or not they are geographically near each other. Indeed one of the great glories of the Internet is precisely this breaking down of physical barriers so that we can be in contact with each other, wherever we are and whatever the time is!

One of the most potent ways of telling people what we are thinking (and for sharing facts and events in our lives) is the weblog or blog. This is, in a sense, a public diary which anyone can read. Teachers sometimes write a blog to tell students how they are doing and what they should do next. Students or groups of students can write a diary - an instant autobiography - to tell others what they are doing and to provide feedback on how their learning is going. Blogging is not difficult and there are many sites, such as , which tell users how to make use of this particular resource.


Of considerable interest to teachers are the many sites that allow us to download software to enable us to design our own web-based material. (This enables us to provide practice material for our students that is especially appropriate to them.) The aim of such sites is to allow teachers to key in or import their own text and then, by using the software provided, create a variety of different exercises. Perhaps the most popular of these is the Hot Potatoes site at http://hotpot.uvic.ca. We can choose whether we want students to be given multiple¬-choice exercises, short answer exercises, jumbled sentences, crosswords, etc. and the authoring software provides us with the type of exercise we have requested.

Designing websites

Many teachers design their own websites and even get students to make their own class websites, too. When these are put on the worldwide web (thanks to Tripod and Geocities - services of Lycos and Yahoo! respectively), anyone is allowed to visit them. Web design is not nearly as complex as it might seem. While professional software such as Macromedia Dreamweaver and Adobe GoLive might seem a bit daunting to the beginner, Microsoft FrontPage, for example, is relatively straightforward. Students will enjoy making their own website. Teachers can put anything they want on the web, and for private teachers a website is an excellent way to advertise their presence.

Virtual learning: from emails to simulated environments

The easiest way of organising teaching, swapping material and giving feedback to students using IT is via email. Teachers can set assignments, have 'conversations' with students and give feedback on student work. However, there are Internet-based software programs designed specifically to offer teaching and training environments online. There are a number of online courses for both students and teachers of English. These range from the downright shoddy (i.e. not worth the time that users spend on them) to serious attempts to facilitate successful learning even when groups of students are not physically present in the same space. It is now possible to train for almost anything online, and training for English teachers is no exception. However, there is a significant difference between teacher training courses that can, apparently, be completed on websites in just a few hours, and well-designed virtual learner environments (VLEs). The idea of a VLE is that course content (including written text, audio and video lecture clips) can be stored on a website which only course participants can access. Some VLEs also contain blogs (see above) and have chat sites both in pre-arranged real time and on message boards where users can post their comments and read what others have to say. There are various platforms for VLEs (or learner management systems as they are sometimes called), including the increasingly popular MoodIe (which is free), and Blackboard and First Class (which are not). Most VLE sites also allow for real-time tutoring so that wherever participants are situated geographically, they can participate in tutorials and even virtual classes.

Five questions

With so much technology and so many new software options available it is sometimes difficult for teachers, directors of study and curriculum planners to know how to make choices. Almost everything sounds wonderful, and there is a temptation, sometimes, to think that all teaching and learning problems can be resolved with the purchase of a new piece of hardware or a change over to some new software-powered procedures. The issue for decision-makers (or anyone trying to decide what to choose for their own teaching or learning) is that many of the new ‘technology solutions’ which are offered and updated on an almost daily basis are indeed very attractive. However, to adopt any one of them would require (sometimes significant) investment and, at the very least, time to learn how to make best use of it. In order, therefore, to try to think rationally and constructively about new classroom equipment of any kind, the following five questions highlight some of the considerations that should be taken into account. These questions apply not just to new technology, but also to any new methodology, procedures, coursebook or program that is offered to teachers.

Question 1: What is the pedigree?

We need to know where a new idea or piece of equipment comes from. Do its originators have a good track record in the field? A good rule of thumb is always to be suspicious, for example, of websites where you cannot find out who is responsible for them. We are not suggesting that all new ideas have to come from tried and trusted designers or publishers. On the contrary, new people can offer new and exciting possibilities. But we still need to know who makes this thing, and what their motives are. This is partly because of question 2.

Question 2: Who gains?

If we adopt this new methodological procedure or buy this new computer or IWB, who will be the beneficiary of our purchase? If we can be sure that students will benefit, then it may be worth investing time and money in the project. The same would be true if we could say with certainty that teachers would really benefit by having their workload reduced, for example, or because their professional quality of life would somehow be enhanced. The owner of the new technology or the proselytiser of the new method will also gain if we take on what they are offering, and there is no reason why this should not be so. However, in asking the question Who gains? we need to be sure that we or our students get at least as much out of what is being proposed as they do.

Question 3: Does it pass the TEA test?

If teachers are expected to adopt a new procedure or use a new piece of technology, it needs to pass the 'TEA' test. T stands for training. Unless teachers and students are helped to understand the new thing, and then given training opportunities to try it out, it will usually fail. E stands for the whole area of equipment. We need to be sure that the new procedure or hardware, for example, is properly supported technically. This may sound like an obvious point, but with major government-selected systems in various areas of life (health, education) sometimes failing even after huge financial investment, we should not underestimate the absolute need for teachers to be sure that the equipment is appropriate, is in place, and is properly supported by qualified professionals. Finally, A stands for access. If the new technology, set of cue cards or collection of supplementary books is locked away in a cupboard for safety, it becomes inaccessible. If we have to take students down a long corridor to a computer room that has to be booked three weeks in advance, then the whole idea becomes significantly less attractive.

Question 4: What future possibilities does it open up?

When we adopt a new methodological procedure or piece of classroom equipment (or software), it is important for us to believe that it has a future. Many people are uneasy about one-size-fits-all methodologies, partly because they are closed to innovation and infiltration from the outside. In the same way, we need to be confident that what we are investing time and money in is not a closed system - and that it has potential for expansion and future growth.

Question 5: How can I make it work?

After reading questions 1-4 above, it may seem as if we are suggesting that teachers should be extremely sceptical about new ideas and technologies, and that, in general, we should reject the new in favour of the old. However, this is far from the truth and instant rejection is just as deadening as instant acceptance can be careless. Before rejecting any new idea or equipment, we should ask ourselves how we can make it work for us and for our students. We need to look at the 'best-case scenario' and use that to evaluate what we are being offered, not only in a cynical, but also in a positive light. That way we have a chance of judging its real worth.

Adapted from The Practice of English Language Teaching, Jeremy Harmer 2007, Longman.

Вадим Бондарь
Вадим Бондарь
Как найти и выбрать тьютора?
Ирина Суханова
Ирина Суханова
здравствуйте! я прохожу курс учитель англ. языка. я отправила тест №1, как долго его будут проверять.
Юлия Дорохова
Юлия Дорохова
Россия, г.Томск
Артур Гибадуллин
Артур Гибадуллин
Россия, г. Нижневартовск