ERIC Identifier: ED376734
Publication Date: 1994-12-00
Author: Marcos, Kathleen
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on
Languages and Linguistics Washington DC.
Internet for Language Teachers. ERIC Digest.
Rare is the language professional who does not have access to the Internet in
some way. However, many remain unaware of the variety of services available once
the connection has been established. After giving an overview of Internet, this
digest will outline the wealth of information and services Internet can make
The Internet is a vast network linking computers
all over the world. Millions of individual users regularly take advantage of
Internet to communicate, search databases, and transfer files. Any personal
computer (PC) with a modem is a potential Internet connection.
Internet operates at several levels, beginning with the individual PC.
Messages go from the PC to one of hundreds of local networks. From there
information is passed from network to network until arriving at its destination,
in much the same way a letter is transferred from post office to post office
until it arrives in your mailbox (Krol, 1992). Messages can be sent to, and
information retrieved from, computers almost anywhere in the world.
Educators generally access Internet through the many universities that carry
it. Universities are not the sole entry point, however. Virtually anyone can
access Internet inexpensively through the various commercial services offering
accounts. CompuServe (1-800-848-8199) and America On-line (800-827-6364) are
examples of two companies providing this service.
Among the uses language professionals can make of the Internet are the
remote access to library and other databases;
subscription to lists and other electronic fora;
subscription to electronic journals;
Perhaps the most common application,
electronic mail allows an individual anywhere in the world to communicate with
any other individual, without the constraints imposed by time zones and
schedules. A message can be sent from a home computer in Indiana to another in
New Zealand. The sender can compose and send the message at his convenience, day
or night, regardless of whether the receiver is home at the time. The message
will be delivered to the receiver shortly afterward, to be read at his computer
at his convenience. International electronic mail travels very quickly, often
within minutes, and is highly reliable.
Creative educators are making use of Internet for distance education. There
are a number of language learning projects now taking place on electronic mail,
among them a project between the University of South Carolina English Program
for Internationals (EPI) and the Latin American Scholarship Program of American
Universities (LASPAU). In this arrangement, electronic mail is used as a means
to deliver English language instruction to scholars prior to their arrival in
the United States. Teachers at EPI in the United States e-mail the Latin
American scholarship students a series of assignments designed to take them from
basic academic writing to text analysis for varying academic purposes. The
students--located in Peru, Paraguay, Ecuador, El Salvador, Colombia, Chile, and
Mexico--respond to the teachers via Internet, often appending questions
regarding culture, climate, and other aspects of life in the United States. The
project has been very successful in preparing students for their trip to the
United States (Goodwin, Hamrick, & Stewart, 1993).
REMOTE ACCESS TO LIBRARY AND OTHER DATABASES
useful to any researcher is the ability to search any of the hundreds of library
and other databases around the world available through Internet. Once a
connection is established with a remote computer, users can access that computer
as if their PC were a terminal in the remote system. This aspect of Internet use
is carried out using Telnet, special software generally accessible to Internet
users. Through Telnet, an Internet user can logon to bibliographic databases
(library catalogs are a prime example) at major universities and to full-text
databases and other online services. Over 350 universities, public libraries,
and government agencies--including the Library of Congress--allow Internet users
access to their electronic card catalogs and databases. Researchers can search
the databases, retrieve text (and in some cases, graphics), and save the results
to their own computer.
Recently developed "gopher" programs allow users to search groups of the
above information sources to gather data on topics of interest. Internet gophers
run off users' systems and connect to remote computers to access databases,
directories, and text (such as press releases). Gophers are designed to be
user-friendly and exist on almost every large system on the Internet.
ERIC is an important example of a database that can be located using gophers,
allowing interested ERIC users to search for documents by title, author, and
descriptor from their own PCs. Guidance on locating ERIC via gophers is
available from the ERIC Clearinghouse on Information and Technology at
[email protected] or 1-800-464-9107.
SUBSCRIPTION TO LISTS AND OTHER ELECTRONIC FORA
particular interest to language professionals are the many electronic mailing
lists (lists) and bulletin boards currently in service. Some focus on issues of
language learning, others on discussions of culture or current affairs. News
items from many countries are retrievable in English and other languages. These
lists provide a way to find colleagues interested in specific (sometimes exotic)
issues and also provide a forum for discussions on teaching methodology, books,
or politics. For example, subscribers to the [email protected]
obtain weekly news from Poland in both Polish and English. The
list promotes communication between teachers and students of
the Chinese language. Any number of people have formed language clubs or
discovered professional opportunities via Internet lists. They also offer a
means of locating native speakers of various languages.
Electronic fora such as the Foreign Language Education Forum (FLEFO) on
CompuServe allow foreign language and bilingual education teachers to contact
each other, check the job market, and download public domain publications and
software. A number of ERIC digests are retrievable on FLEFO. Those interested
can subscribe by discussing FLEFO with their CompuServe representative.
A very thorough directory of international and language-related lists is
available by sending the message GET FLTEACH FLLISTS to
[email protected] (or [email protected] bitnet). It can also be
retrieved by sending the message GET LIST OFLISTS1 to [email protected]
(or [email protected]), or by contacting David Bedell at the University of
Bridgeport at [email protected]
SUBSCRIPTION TO ELECTRONIC JOURNALS
Internet has changed
the very definition of "journal." There are now electronic journals--some of
which are unavailable in print form--on many topics. One recent newcomer of
interest is "Teaching English as a Second or Foreign Language: An Electronic
Journal (TESL-EJ)." The journal is delivered to a subscriber's electronic mail
account quarterly and offers articles, reviews, and news about the field of
language teaching. Subscription to the journal is free of charge and can be
obtained by sending this message: SUB TESLEJ-L Firstname Lastname
(Example--SUBTESLEJ-L Abraham Lincoln) to [email protected]
Files can be easily transferred from one PC
to another over the Internet. This application is particularly useful for
downloading files from library and other databases, but is also helpful for
transferring software or text from place to place. For example, a textbook
author in California could easily transfer chapters from his computer to his
editor's computer in Spain by appending the files to an electronic mail message.
The editor in Spain could make changes and direct the altered file back to the
original author--within a matter of hours and at minimal cost. Internet users
all over the world access public domain software, graphics, and text daily.
There are numerous other services in the
Internet inventory; new uses are continually discovered. The list of resources
that follows is not meant to be exhaustive; many other useful publications and
guidebooks are available to help navigate the Internet.
Goodwin, A., Hamrick, J., & Stewart, T.C.
(1993). Instructional delivery via electronic mail. "TESOL Journal," 3, 24-27.
Krol, E. (1992). "The whole internet. User's guide and catalog." Sebastopol,
CA: O'Reilly & Associates.
Darby, C. (1992). "Traveling on the Internet." (ED 350 007)
Eddings, J. (1994). "How the Internet works." Emeryville, CA: Zeff-Davis.
Estrada, S. (1993). "Connecting to the Internet. An O'Reilly buyer's guide."
Sebastopol, CA: O'Reilly & Associates.
Hardie, E.T.L., & Neou, V. (Eds). (1993). "Internet: Mailing lists (SRI
Internet Information Series)." Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Regents Prentice Hall.
Krause, J. (1989). "Telecommunications in foreign language Education: A
resource list. ERIC Digest." Washington, DC: ERIC Clearinghouse on Languages and
Kurshan, B.L., Harrington, M.A., & Milbury, P.G. (1994). "An educator's
guide to electronic networking: Creating virtual communities." Syracuse, NY:
ERIC Clearinghouse on Information and Technology.
Marine, A., Kirkpatrick, S., Neou, V., & Ward, C. (1993). "Internet:
Getting started (SRI Internet Information Series)." Englewood Cliffs, NJ:
Regents Prentice Hall.
Oblinger, D. (1992). "Understanding the Internet." Chapel Hill: University of
North Carolina. (ED 358 861)
Rethemeyer, R.K. (1994). "Adult literacy, the Internet, and NCAL: An
introduction." Philadelphia, PA: National Center on Adult Literacy.
Tennant, R. (1992). "Internet basics. ERIC Digest." Syracuse, NY: ERIC
Clearinghouse on Information Resources.
FOR FURTHER READING
Birchfield, M. (1990). "Casting a new net: Searching library catalogs via the
Internet." Paper presented at the Illinois Library Association College and
Research Libraries Forum. (ED 329 295)
Butler, M. (1994). "How to use the Internet. Join the Internet revolution
today." Emeryville, CA: Zeff-Davis Press.
Internet gopher: An information sheet. (1992). In "Electronic networking:
Research, applications and policy," 2, 69-71.
Keays, T. (1993). Searching online database services over the Internet.
"Online," 17, 29-33.
Wyman, W.J. (1993). Internet and foreign language instruction: A report from
behind the lines. "IALL Journal," 26, 26-33.