Using the Internet in TESOL: Video, Task-Based Learning, Apps, and More!

Using the internet in TESOLThere are many reasons for making use of the internet in TESOL. More and more people are doing a great percentage of their daily business on the web. It is an environment they are comfortable navigating, and one that they’re using English all the time. It doesn’t make sense any longer to leave it out of their learning program. Furthermore, the internet provides endless quantities of authentic language resources, all available within seconds. Internet materials like videos, forums and new sites are fun, rich and dynamic in ways textbooks so often are not. Last, teaching English while students use the web provides opportunities for more independent learning; you are giving them skills that they can use forever.

Planning Around A Video – The Internet in TESOL

TED talks are designed to be informative, visually stimulating and have clear, take away messages. Ask your students to listen to gist, answer comprehension questions, pick out target vocabulary, notice expressions, analyze presentation techniques or discuss ideas.

Once students have watched a video, understood its language and discussed its ideas, have them turn to the comments section on the video’s web page. Ask them to look for ideas which support or contradict the video’s speaker, or have them respond to a comment they like or dislike. A lot of nice authentic language comes up in comments, and the comments on TED tend to be a little more focused and censored than those on Youtube.

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Task Based Learning TESOL – Doing Research

What better way to practice skim and scan reading, develop vocabulary and teach students independent research skills than by having students do internet research on an interesting topic? In the past, for example, I’ve asked students to investigate a country in the world that they don’t know very much about and frame their research with the question “Could you live in that country?” After teaching some related vocabulary, I give students a list of aspects of the country that they should read about, like climate, social customs, the economy, language and history, and ask them to find as much information as they can in order to decide whether or not it would be a good place to live. If you’re teaching students at the lower levels, they can use ‘Simple English Wikipedia’ (simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brazil)  and find excellent, authentic information in language they can understand.

Read: How to Use Task-based Learning

Another group project for lower level students is to plan a class trip by consulting the internet for information about different locations that might be great to visit. Giving each group a different site, I ask them to visit the site to find out the relevant information, which they later share with the class. As an extension,  have them call the location or send an email to the location to ask questions, so that they can further practice the language and skills they are learning in an authentic context.

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Online Software Applications – The Internet in TESOL

There is a great number of free software, accessible online, to help people learn, communicate and share their knowledge. I use the website ‘Spiderscribe’ to have students create online mindmaps that look great and can include video, audio and links all over the web. I’ve used a website called ‘Dipity’ to create a collective, interactive timeline. I’ve introduced the website ‘Prezi’ to countless of students, who prefer its design and utility over that of powerpoint. All of these are free, easy to use and help students create attractive, professional looking work that they can keep in the cloud and refer to later, add to, and share easily.

Class Blogs – The Internet in TESOL

Websites like Word Press, Tumblr and Pinterest have made it easy to set up a beautiful looking and user-friendly online community that your students can use to extend their learning beyond class hours. It’s a place they can post homework, ideas or just interesting things they want to share.  By posting their writing and photos on blogs, students can see each other’s work and learn from each other.  As their teacher, you can use the blog space as a repository for assignments, and with the class’ permission do open evaluation and feedback, so that students can also learn from each other’s successes and errors.

Tips for Using The Internet Effectively

When giving students internet based work, always be sure to highlight the communicative aspect of their work. Have students work in pairs or small groups and make sure they’re stopping often to talk to each other, ask questions and stay on track. Give clear instructions for purposeful tasks that are clearly integrated with the rest of your curriculum. Always make sure that you are involved at some point in the process, whether it be through evaluating work, conferencing with students or facilitating dialogue.

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