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The Internet TESL Journal (ITESLJ) is a combination monthly WWW publication and TESL/TEFL teaching materials site. On line since 1995, it has accumulated a growing archive of research articles, position papers, teaching tips and activities, quizzes, and a large collection of links to TESL/TEFL sites, and constantly presents new material in its monthly journal. It is open to all contributors and contains a refreshingly wide variety of materials from teachers around the world, ranging from statistic-filled research papers to short grammar and vocabulary quizzes.
The people who maintain the site have wisely chosen to abide by the "KISS" principle, presenting material in basic HTML. Those with slow modems and older computers and will appreciate the focus on content over flashy presentation. Visitors wanting those eye-catching but big, memory-hungry multimedia productions will have to go elsewhere, but can do so easily by following the extensive list of links. There is something for everyone at this site, with more coming all the time because the site actively solicits contributions from its readers.
Below are descriptions of articles and materials dealing with reading and/or writing instruction that may be of interest to Literacy Across Cultures readers. They are roughly organized by content and then listed chronologically.
This is a position paper on how to best help bilingual children become biliterate as well. The writer presents relevant research (in bilingualism, reading instruction, and the phonics vs. whole language debate), but draws more heavily the experiences of children learning to be bilingual, presented in three case studies of children he tutored. He concludes that parents should depend less on the "expert" advice of literacy gurus and more on the same family policies and practices which led their children to be bilingual.
Gender Differences in Taiwan Business Writing Errors
Judy F. Chen (October 1996)
This article reports the results of a computer-based study of the writing of male and female students in Taiwan. It first discusses how computers can be integrated into writing classes so that teachers can gain a better understanding of students' abilities and progress. Next, it presents results of a study (made possible by the use of computer-based writing instruction) of gender differences in student writing errors, which indicates that female students consistently make fewer errors, and show more improvement over time, than their male classmates.
Chicken Meets on Rise: Meaning in Decline Lexical Havoc in L2
Yvonne Stapp (April 1997)
This article presents examples of learner errors caused by lexical confusions, direct translations, similar-sounding words, and phonological problems. It is informative but highly entertaining as well because the examples of learners' mistakes demonstrate how seemingly small errors can have a devastating effect on meaning.
A Product-Focused Approach to Text Summarisation
Esther Uso Juan and Juan Carlos Palmer Silveira (January 1998)
In this study of summary writing, an intermediate and advanced group of Spanish students of English were asked to read a short passage and to write summaries of it. The intermediate level had a set of summary-writing instructions that were explained by the teacher before starting the task, while Group B did not receive any guidance. The researchers observed that L2 proficiency strongly affected the summarising task; the advanced group did well despite knowing little about summary writing. They also found that the lower proficiency group clearly benefitted from having guidelines on summary writing.
Gender Differences in E-mail Communication
Paolo Rossetti (July 1998)
The implications of gender differences on language use are explored in this article, based on a total of 100 randomly selected e-mail discussion group messages written on a wide range of topics. It begins with a discussion of general issues in language and gender and of gender in e-mail communication, followed by a study of e-mail samples analyzed based on Herring's (1994) aggressive/ male, supportive/female dichotomy. The results show a clear gender difference in styles in e-mail messages, with males "more prone to write in an aggressive, competitive style, while women tend to be far more supportive in their writing."
An easy to use teaching technique for using student-generated dialogues as a way of reviewing vocabulary is presented here.
CNN Interactive: Reading, Discussing and Writing
Amy Ogasawara (December 1995)
A sample lesson plan for teaching college freshmen (TOFEL scores from 425 to 475) using CNN Interactive(http://www.cnn. com) and e-mail, with an eye to increasing awareness of issues in world news, as well as developing critical reading ability and the ability to write critical reactions.
A Peer Review Activity for Essay Organization
Bob Gibson (March 1996)
This article offers a variation on peer review of essays that, by maintaining the anonymity of both the writer and reviewer, reduces the tension peer review can involve. The activity focuses students' attention on the value of well-written topic sentences at the paragraph or on thesis statements at the essay level.
Teaching the English Newspaper Effectively
Kenji Kitao (March 1996)
After establishing the importance of English newspaper articles for students, the author presents ways to teach learners to recognize the way newspapers and articles in them are organized, and offers suggestions for helping readers understand the writer's objective and for critical reading. It includes a sample worksheet.
How to Read Nonfictional English Texts Faster and More Effectively:
A 'Standard Reading Exercise' for ESL-Students
Helmut Stiefenhoumlfer (June 1996)
This article presents a set of tasks and exercises for a single reading assignment, designed to take intermediate and advanced readers through the entire gamut of top-down and bottom-up reading strategies when reading nonfiction texts. The emphasis is on helping readers reflect on their "cognitive efforts in problem-solving" to improve their general reading ability and to develop problem-solving skills in general.
Reading and Writing through Neuro-Linguistic Programming
Tom Maguire (June 1996)
Suggestions for reading and writing activities to encourage student creativity using visualization and guided imagery are presented in this article.
Global Warming: A Cause and Effect Writing Lesson
Amy Ogasawara (November 1996)
This is a lesson plan to practice cause and effect writing skills, using environmental topics as an example, in which students are given several articles about global warming and note-taking worksheet to help them identify key points and all causes and effects in the articles. The notes are then used for writing cause and effect essays on the topic.
The Love Clinic: Using Advice Columns in the Classroom
Richard Humphries (February 1997)
This is a combination reading, discussion and role-playing activity designed around newspaper advice columns. It includes a clear description of how to carry out the activity, and suggestions for raising cultural awareness through the materials chosen and the discussions and role plays based on them.
Is the Movie the Same as the Book?
Donna Hurst Tatsuki (February 1997)
This activity describes how to prepare lessons comparing passages in a book and corresponding scenes in a movie based on them. It encourages close reading of a text and critical examination of both the text and the movie scene, and provides the basis for further individual or group projects.
Student Created Crossword PuzzleExercise
Greg Goodmacher (December 1997)
As the title indicates, this article contains tips on how to help students review vocabulary by making their own crossword puzzles. It includes a grid which can be used as a template for making crossword puzzles.
This is a variation on student journaling that has students write to many different people while remaining anonymous.
Getting Your Class Connected
Dennis E. Wilkinson (September 1996)
The short selection found here offers ideas on using e-mail and elementary HTML for teaching, links, and suggestions for encouraging learners.
Marking Student Work on the Computer
Martin Holmes (September 1996)
This article describes how student papers can be marked using MS Word 7 or Word Perfect 6.1 using macros and templates designed by the author, and discusses advantages and disadvantages of this method. The article includes links which the reader can use to download the macros and templates.
Using Microsoft Word to Generate Computerized Tests
Frank Tuzi (November 1997)
After acknowledging the benefits of computer-based testing but also pointing out some of the drawbacks of using internet-based tests, the author shows how macros and forms in the MS Word environment can be used for creating and using computerized practice and testing materials that can be used offline. Instructions and examples are clear, and, while there is certainly a learning curve involved, anyone using them should be able to write their own computerized tests in a relatively short time
E-mail Activities in the ESL Writing Class
Ron Belisle (December 1996)
In this collection of e-mail activities, the author discusses the numerous advantages that using e-mail has for language learners and their teachers, followed by suggestions/ instructions for different e-mail assignments and activities.
Report on a Penpal Project, and Tips for Penpal-Project Success
Vera Mello (January 1998)
A Brazilian English teacher's experiences in setting up and administering an e-mail pen pal project are described in this article.
Thriving on Screen: Web-Authoring for L2 Instruction
Jack Kimball (February 1998)
The great potential that the WWW offers, and how teachers and students can benefit from it and, in turn, further increase its potential engaging in their own web-authoring, are discussed in this article. Links are included.
Let the E-mail Software Do the Work: Time Saving Features for the Writing
Ron Belisle (April 1998)
This article explains how to obtain, install, and set up the free e-mail program, Eudora Light, to make use of its time saving features as part of an e-mail based writing program.
Activities for Using Junk Email in the ESL/EFL Classroom
Michael Ivy (May 1998)
Turning junk e-mail into language treasure can be done by using the suggestions and the six activities described in this article.
This article describes how newspaper articles can easily be turned into jigsaw reading activities that involve listening and speaking as well as reading.
Graffiti for ESL Readers
Brent Buhler (September 1996)
This teaching technique article presents a type of jigsaw reading activity in which small sections of larger articles are copied onto 11 by 17 one-column pages and taped to the walls. Students, who can start anywhere in the article, develop dialog among themselves and with the text as they work through it.
Less Is More: Summary Writing and Sentence Structure in the Advanced
George L. Greaney (September 1997)
The activity here is designed to encourage advanced students who habitually write short, simple sentences to use more complex sentence structure spontaneously in their writing. It involves each student in summarizing a short passage and then challenges the class to reduce the summaries into a single, comprehensive sentence.
A Fun Reading Comprehension Activity
Mehmet Ali Akgün (October 1997)
This short article describes a reading activity which offers an interesting variation on the average cloze exercise. A text is typed in a thin column, leaving a large margin on both sides. Students cut a line through the column of text so that the last one or two words are cut off and then must work to reconstruct the text by supplying the missing words.
Read Aloud and Spot the Differences
Greg Goodmacher (November 1997)
In this activity, students are given slightly different texts which they read aloud to each other and try to find the differences.
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