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ESL/ EFL Resources on the Internet
Think Globally . . . by Christopher Etchells
ELT-Related Web Sites
The Internet is a vast resource with much to offer ESL / EFL professionals and students. Its very size can be a problem, however. Like arriving inside the doors of some huge library for the first time, it can be difficult to know where to start, and it provides almost infinite opportunities for time wasting.
TIPS can help! This article will contain an overview of Internet resources to point you in the right direction. Feel free to print it out and distribute it to your colleagues or students. Bear in mind that it is a hypertext document, however, best viewed in the original at the Teacher's Internet Pages on the World Wide Web (http://www.iteachnet.com) where you can click on underlined words for explanations and links to other sites on the Internet.
Internet discussion lists are services which receive contributions from individuals and then mail them out to everyone on the list. The largest of these is TESL-L (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages List), with some 9000 subscribers (although it is free) in 90 different countries. E-mail a question or observation to such a list and you or your students can be sure of a response - sometimes many more than one - within 24 hours. As well as general English on TESL-L there are branches catering for special interests:
TESLCA-L Computer Assisted Language Learning
TESLFF-L Fluency First and whole language learning
TESLIE-L Intensive English programmes
TESLIT-L Adult education and literacy
TESLK-12 Teaching English to children
TESLKJB-L Jobs and employment issues
TESLMW-L Materials Writers
TESP-L: English for Specific Purposes
To subscribe to any of the above send a one-line email message, leaving the subject line blank, to
subscribe <listName> <yourFirstName> <yourLastName>
eg. if John Smith wants to subscribe to TESL-L, in the body of his message he writes:
subscribe TESL-L John Smith
John does not write anything else such as thank you as he knows he is addressing a machine which will not understand him!
Once subscribed, you will receive a welcome message with instructions about posting messages (including netiquette: how to avoid offending by email), about joining /leaving branches and - importantly, if you want to avoid being swamped by messages - how to receive contributions in digest form (ie. several messages consolidated into one mailing
While the lists at City University of New York (TESL-L and its branches) cater mainly for ESL/EFL professionals, the lists at San Francisco State University aim "to provide a forum for cross-cultural discussion and writing practice for college, university and adult students in English Language programs around the world."
There are currently ten lists:
INTRO-SL Discussion List for new members. Designed to give first- timers a chance to hone their email skills before joining the other topic-based lists.
CHAT-SL General discussion list. Low level.
DISCUSS-SL General discussion list. High level.
BUSINESS-SL Discussion list on business and economics.
ENGL-SL Discussion list on learning English.
EVENT-SL Discussion list on current affairs.
MOVIE-SL Discussion list on the Cinema.
MUSIC-SL Discussion list on Music.
SCITECH-SL Discussion list on science, technology and computers.
SPORT-SL Discussion list on sports.
To subscribe to any of the SL lists you first have to register your students by sending email to with the following information:
1) Your name and institution
2) Number of students
3) Duration of class term
4) Name of the node the students will use (the part following the '@' mark).
You will then be placed on a special discussion list (TCHR-SL) for the teachers who are involved in this project and will receive another document entitled "Facilitating Use of the Student Lists: Guidelines for Teachers" which contains further advice and a handout, with quiz, to help orient your students.
Other lists of interest to English teachers include:
ENGLISH-TEACHERS All aspects of English teaching NETEACH-L Using the Internet as an educational tool for EFL/ESL SLART-L Second Language Acquisition Research and Teaching TESLEJ-L ESL Electronic journal
UNTILL Using New Technology in Language Learning
WORDPLAY-L Vocabulary, spelling, pronunciation, quizzes, etc. WORDS-L Discussion of The English Language
Newsgroups in USENET cater for just about every imaginable interest and so are another possibility for use with students. These lists, used mainly by native speakers, are often complex in vocabulary, jargon and slang and deal with topics at a fairly high level. Fine for more advanced students who are confident about their chosen subject. Access to USENET will depend on your communications software: if in doubt, contact your service provider. Once there, you (and your students) can search the groups by subject and retrieve whatever discussion threads you wish, compose replies, upload them and monitor the results.
It is also possible to hold real-time conversations over the Internet. Moos (multiple user systems) allow anything typed by one person to be seen simultaneously by all the other participants. This can be confusing but the future, offering the possibility to exchange actual speech over the Internet, looks promising. To use MOOs you need a programme called TELNET: again, consult your service provider if in doubt. Moos are typically configured as virtual buildings which you explore with commands like GO WEST or READ NOTICE. Of particular interest are:
Diversity University moo.du.org 8888 or erau.db.erau.edu:8888
SchMOOze arthur.rutgers.edu 8888 (Specifically for EFL/ESL students)
HUT hutmoo.cs.hut.fi:7777/ (Ruth Vilmis Helsinki University of Technology project: five floors of the Virtual Language Centre are under construction.)
This is the fastest expanding area of the Internet and contains hundreds of sites of interest to EFL/ESL professionals and students. It is based on a system called hypertext, allowing the user to follow links embedded in the text to jump to another part of the document or - in the case of the Web - to related information held on another computer anywhere in the world. This ability to surf from one site to another can be enjoyable: the Web is a highly graphical environment, a bit like an interactive colour magazine, with additional possibilities for sound and video. One never really knows where one will end up, and the fact that publishing on the Web is open to anyone with a little desk top publishing experience has resulted in an explosion of creativity not unlike that following the invention of the first printing presses.
To access the Web you need a piece of software called a browser: the most popular of these is Netscape; others are the Microsoft Internet Browser and Mosaic. Consult your Internet access provider for further details. You will need to use the fastest modem you can find - 28000bps at present - and try to go on-line when America is asleep, as the number of people using the system (and many of them are in north America) affects its speed.
Are you interested in human rights? The environment? Peace? Justice and equality? International understanding? Would you like to bring these issues into your teaching? If so, you may be interested in the Global Issues Special Interest Group (GISIG) of IATEFL, the International Association of Teachers of English as a Foreign Language.
IATEFL has many special interest groups, of which the GISIG is the latest. It aims to provide a forum among English Language Teaching practitioners to stimulate awareness and understanding of Global Issues and to encourage the development of global education within language teaching. This approach aims to equip students with the knowledge, skills and values which can help them confront both local and global problems. The GISIG also aims to promote a less Eurocentric perspective within English Language Teaching.
Members of the GISIG receive a newsletter, with contributions from all over the globe, to help them in their teaching. Recent issues have included articles on Integrating Global Education into Language Teaching, Discussing Global Issues as a Classroom Activity, Environmental Issues and EFL, Teaching English through Projects in the Natural Environment, Can Global Issues be taught to young learners? and so on.
There is also a GISIG web site on the Internet. The Internet is particularly relevant to those interested in Global Issues because:
- Its environmentally friendly: electronic mail involves no paper, ink or other consumables, it involves no post van collecting and delivering the mail or plane transporting letters across the skies.
- GISIG members live all over the globe: email communication makes it possible to stay in touch - literally network - with everyone else, quickly and easily.
- Because they live all over the world, GISIG members find it difficult to get to meetings and conferences. Virtual meetings are an environmentally friendly and inexpensive alternative.
- Email makes it possible for everyone to participate, wherever their location, North, South, East and West.
- The Internet is bulging with free resources on all sorts of Global Issues. Some of these are given below. There are many more links links at the GISIG web site, together with links to other more general EFL / ESL resources.
Once there you can join the GISIG and browse the contents of the Newsletter. Membership costs £7 per year if you are already a member of IATEFL. If youre not a member, you can join IATEFL for just £25, which includes free membership of one Special Interest Group. Telephone IATEFL on +44 1227 276528, fax +44 1227 274415, or email 100070.1327@Compuserve.Com for further information.
Environmental Organisations WebDirectory (http://www.webdirectory.com)
A good place to start on any environmental topic
Gender and Global Issues Programme (http://pubweb.ucdavis.edu/documents/ggi/ggindex.html)
Just what it says
One World (http://www.oneworld.org)
Brilliant site covering all sorts of global issues with special reports from around the world - Northern Ireland, Bosnia, Afghanistan, Rwanda, Ogoniland, &. Also articles on womens rights, refugees, landmines, etc.
One World Partner Sites (http://oneworld.org/partners/index.html)
Links to major organisations like Amnesty International, Charter 88, Christian Aid, Friends of the Earth, Groundwork, International Institute for Sustainable Development, etc.
Our Changing Planet (http://www.gcrio.org/OCP/toc.html)
"US global change research program supports activities that provide information on policy relevant to understanding about the coupling of human activities and the environment across a broad range of issues, perspectives and interactions."
Ancient Trees Project (http://www.nyu.edu/projects/julian/index.html)
Learn about your local ancient trees and branch out by sharing your findings.
Association for Experiential Education (http://www.Princeton.edu/~rcurtis/aee.html)
An emphasis on learning through technology and the Great Outdoors
BBC Education Page (http://www.bbcnc.org.uk/education/index.html)
Search for programmes and resources under the headings Primary (4 - 11 years), Secondary (11 - 16 years) and Adult / Further Education.
Development Education Association (http://www.oneworld.org/dea/index.html)
Supporting and promoting everyone engaged in bringing about a better public understanding in the UK of global and development issues.
The English Country School (http://www.countryschool.com)
Teaching English through projects in the natural environment.
Environmental Education Network (http://www.envirolink.org/enviroed/)
Aims to bring environmental education on-line and acts as a clearinghouse for environmental education, information, materials and ideas on the Internet.
One World School Page (http://www.oneworld.org/yes/yes_schools_index.html)
Classroom materials arranged under the headings Literacy, Health, Hunger, Conflict, Environment, Money Matters, Population. Excellent resource.
There are many, many ELT-related sites on the Web. The best place to start apart from TIPS :-) is at one of the sites which lists them. Three of these are given below, followed by a few personal favourites. Happy surfing!
TESL Internet Journal (http://www.aitech.ac.jp/~iteslj/)
The definitive list of links to EFL/ESL sites.
Gavins Home Page on the Web (http://www.encomix.es/~dudeney/)
Another fine list of links
TESOL.com home page (http://www.tesol.com)
More links, with a search facility
The Virtual English Language Centre (http://www.comenius.com/)
Enter the cybershop to browse educational software; link up with an email partner in the Key Pals area; improve your English with Fluency through Fables and broaden your English with the weekly idiom.
Daves ESL Café (http://pacificnet.net/sperling/eslcafe.html)
Where learning English is fun. Theres an ESL ideas page where students and teachers can share ideas; theres also a graffiti wall and various message and exchange boards. At The ESL Quiz Centre you can find a collection of interactive quizzes on all sorts of subjects: press the submit button for an instant evaluation of your answers.
Digital Education Network (formerly Edunet) (http://www.edunet.com)
Free and subscription access to some of the most innovative English Language learning activities on the Net.
Linguistic Funland (http://math.unr.edu/linguistics/tesl.html)
Job opportunities; exercises for students; articles and essays; pen pals; organisations and journals; teaching materials and software. You can join a tour here (ESLoop) which will guide you round some of the best EFL/ESL sites before returning you to where you started.
Frizzy University Network (http://thecity.sfsu.edu/~funweb/)
You can take classes here, get tutoring, attend grammar workshops, meet others from all over the world, etc.
The English Country School
28 April, 1997
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