Fun Effective Lessons with Content Based CALL
Venette Cook, City College of San Francisco
TESOL 2001
Saint Louis, Missouri, USA

Assumptions: Your intermediate class has email access as well as Web access. You and your class would like to continue improving language skills with the rich authenticity that Web materials provide, without getting so widely focused that students and teacher feel overwhelmed by the same richness. Projects and content based learned appeal to you and your students. You post some assignments on web pages, and teach you students to build simple web pages. You can adapt web based activities to traditional classrooms.

Objectives: We can mine interesting content from the Web to motivate students to use language meaningfully and effectively. As teachers, we can re-use familiar and favorite strategies to use our time effectively as well. By tailoring course topics to students interests and themes we encourage community building and critical thinking.

Offer Language Support before/during computer projects begin:


    Warm-ups and regular language practice:

    Sign your class up for daily proverbs via email. (Use the pull down box to locate the list: One proverb.) Have students check proverbs as homework and email back to you or a key pal about one proverb per week. Assign a team or pair to explain or comment on one weekly.

    Partner or team  dictation as news preview. Students log on to CNN or BBC or new service you prefer. Students determine if  dictation statements are true or false. Variations:  Vocabulary, Question dictation, value statement dictations. By emailing a weekly summary or response to you or a key pal in class, students integrate skills and you can assess progress.

    Projects: Integrating Language Skills, Critical Thinking and Team Communication

    Country Comparison Project:    (with thanks to Alan Ryter, my original co-presenter) Use ABC news country comparison web sites to review and reinforce structures and student's awareness of world geography.

    Wet or Dry: the Florida Everglades or Death Valley?  - a National Parks Jigsaw Reading.    Give A group and B group the same research questions. Send each group to a different web site for answers, or for more savvy groups, have them surf for answers. As a follow-up, groups plan a trip with itinerary and photos. Write a position paper on which trip seems most preferable and why. Other fun, motivating projects include writing travel brochures or advertisements.

    The $10,000 Office: Give your class a budget for outfitting a simple office. In teams, have students brainstorm necessary supplies and furniture. Send them to Office Max or Staples. See which team can get the best equipped office and remain in the black. Have students use spreadsheets to track their expenses. Concluding activity: Map out the office and write an "Open for Business" invitation.

    Hero Project: A reading and writing project that can lead to increased self esteem and knowledge of shared strengths of historical, international and personal heroes.

Thanks for checking in.
Good luck with projects on the Web.
I'd love to hear suggestions or comments.
Sorry I couldn't be with you in real time in Saint Louis!