Internet for English Studies

Making Use of the Internet for English Studies

Preface

The Internet. The media everybody talks about and wants to get use of. Newspapers and magazines are covered with articles about this complicate network, even though they are presenting the issues on their own homepages in the Internet; every single company, may it be a little store or a tycoon, presents itself and its products throughout the web. Today, on every letter head and buisnesscard email addresses can be found.

Yet today, thousands of students in dozens of countries around the world are living the reality of the global village in interactive ways. Through the medium of networks and telecommunication technologies these students are learning to think of themselves as global citizens for the first time, seeing the world, and their place in the world, in ways much different than their parents.

1. The Internet - What is it?

The Internet is basically a connection of many computers located all over the world. What these computers really do is exchange information. The Internet seems to be chaotic at first sight. What else should we expect of a system which is not controlled or organized by anybody. But it works anyway. It is the playground for everybody. All of us can take use from this network. It might be disappointing for some newbies when they notice that life on the net is just normal and trivial. But it must be obvious that netters won't change fundamentally only because they are connected by a computer. Horror fictions like "Newromancer" are exciting and breath-taking, but this has nothing to do with the Internet of today, (Cole, page 10). Still, the world's biggest computer network is surrounded by an aura of mystery.

In contrast to controlled flow of information, however, the global interconnection of networks gives millions of people direct access to information in ways the world has never seen before. Information of every sort flows freely, across national borders and around the world, directly from where it's happening to where it's needed.

1.1 History of the Internet

The history of the Internet is something else than everybody would expect. It was a planned system by the US Army. In the early 1960's, in the time of the Cold War, the American government was faced with the problem, how the country was to communicate aa nuclear war. So they created a non-centralized network that linked city to city and military base to base. The network works even if some parts of it were destrIn 1969 the ARPANET was created, to give civilians access to it. The users changed this high speed network to an electronic post office (->Email). Scientists and researchers used ARPANET to collaborate on projects. Eventually, people used it for leisure activities such as chatting or mailing lists (-> Usenet). the 1980's, the National Science Foundation (NSF) started a program to establish Internet access. They created a "Backbone" called NSFNET to connect college campuses via regional network, (Cole, page 10). But despite of the switching off of the NSFNET by the US government in 1995, which was misunderstood as the breakdown of the Internet, too many host-computers existed already to keep the Internet alive. Bill Clinton said in his 1997's inauguration address: "Ten years ago, the Internet was a mystical province of physicists; today, it is a commonplace encyclopedia for millions of schoolchildren", (Clinton, 1997).

(cf. Cole, Internet, S.10; cf. similar PBS, http://www.pbs.org/internet/history/)

In the early 1990's the Internet experienced explosive growth. "Traffic on the Internet expands at a 341,634% annual growth rate", (PBS, http://www.pbs.org/internet/history/). The main reason of this growing was the creation of the World Wide Web.

1.2 History of the World Wide Web

The World Wide Web (WWW) was created at CERN [http://www.cern.ch/] a physics laboratory in Geneva, Switzerland in 1989. The World Wide Web is the fastest growing Internet resource, but it is a part of it. Its development was based on the transmission of web-pages over the Internet, called HTTP, by using the HTML technology. The WWW is able to include text, pictures, sound, music, voice, animations and videos on its web-pages. The user can simply click on a link and than switch to a new page, because the WWW-pages support hypertext. The Internet was previously black and white, text and files. By improving the HTML-Mode technology, the color mode was added. lz284y8546ez

(cf. Gromov, http://www.internetvalley.com/intval.html)

A web-browser is needed to get access to the WWW, like the Netscape Navigator or the MicrosoExplorer. The two companies, Netscape and Microsoare fighting "an epic battle" for the number one position in the web market, (Cooper, page 52). Nobody knows exactly how big the WWW really is. Search engines try to index the whole WWW, like the Web Archive Organization. The huge collection of online books at the Library of Congress [http://lcweb.loc.gov] is amazing.

2. Internet in Students' Lives

"The Internet offers the researcher access to a vast source of information scattered at locations around the world.", (Campbell, page 1). It gives you more information or working materials than a local library can offer. You can gain access to written materials, but it is possible to link to video, audio, and listening resources as well.

Most students still have problems using the English language. Firstly, students are not native English speakers and have to learn everything right from the beginning. Secondly, students live in a non-English speaking country and cannot use the language in normal life, only in the classroom. There, they skip into an English-speaking world and read English texts, articles, poems, short stories and novels to improve their speaking skills. On this way, they get used to speak the foreign language.

But the effort, students must make in order to do well in the LK English is on a high level. In tests and exams they have to analyze short stories of famous authors or articles, out of Time [http://www.time.com] or Newswe[http://www.newsweIn those articles they must find the style and form of the writing or the point of view out of the given texts. Recognizing stylistic devices, irony or satire is even harder.

Once connected to the web, students can find needful material for the years of their English classes. The variety and diversity of the wide ranged links are amazing and unbelievable. You will never cover everything, but surely enough for your studies. English learning students can improve their abilities in every area. Especially when they have problems in writing, grammar or spelling, lack of vocabulary or not enough knowledge about English speaking countries. The Internet faces all these problems and offers everything and unlimited material to fill these gaps.

"The Internet holds the potential for revolutionizing the way research is done", (Campbell, page 2). This sentence might be true, if you take a look on the advantages of it. The Internet is available 24 hours a day and is the best stocked global library. Finding material is easier and faster than it is in a huge library. Students can share information, material and ideas via chat or email, not only in their city, but they can exchange all over the world. The Internet comes into every students house and appears on the computer screen.

3. What do I need to get started?

Nearly every household has a computer these days. In the time of multimedia the PC or Mac is able to arrange presentations, calculations and well organized texts. As easy as this, it is to get access to the Internet. Only a few things are needed.

3.1 Hardware Requirements

The only thing you need beside your computer is a modem. A modem is the key to the vast resources. Modems can transfer datas out of the big networks of the Internet. The transferring rate can reach 115.500 bauds with 56.000 kps (kilobytes per second). The cost of an Internet connection varies tremendously with your location and the kind of connection that is appropriate to your needs.

Right now, the development of ISDN offers the user an access rate of 64.000 kps to the Web. This is a very high rate and makes Internet surfing to a fantastic experience.

3.2 SoRequirements

As soon as you are registered to an commercial online service, you can use a simple understandable sowhich is based on Windows 9x or Windows NT.

The most important part of the online sois the Internet browser. This is the door to the wide world of information. Today, the most used browser is the MicrosoExplorer 5.0 and the Netscape Navigator 4.7. They offer you easy access to the Internet. With additional soyou are able to get the whole multimedia features, like Internet phone or voice mail. These additional sois called "Plug-In", like Real Audio.

4. How to Find Needed Resources

If you are new on the Internet it will be hard for you to get along in this jungle. The easiest way to find needed resources would be to contact a search engine like Yahoo [http://www.yahoo.com] or AltaVista [http://www.altavista.com]. They are the biggest and best filled engines on the web. Meanwhile, different engines can be found, some German web crawlers, too.

At the main page of one of this engines, you can use the search feature by filling in a keyword about your wanted material and within seconds all related links (called matches), which include your keyword, appear on the screen and can be visited.

A good example would be to use the Internet in order to find material about the '96 American presidential election. Using the Yahoo search engine is the simplest way. Contact Yahoo and fill in the keyword "Election 96" in the given search-field. Aa few seconds the Yahoo server tells you that it found 10338 matches including the word "Election 96". Now it is possible to crawl through all this 10338 matches, which would take nearly a year. But afinishing the first twenty links, you probably already got all information you wanted to know about the American presidential elections and this might be sulficient. In the first twenty matches of our example you find an explanation about the electoral system [http://www.bga.com/~jnhtx/ec/ec.html] or the website address of the Project Vote Smart Campaign [http://www.vote-smart.org/campaign_96/presidential/ index.html]. On this page you get everything about the candidates, parties, the election process or the campaign strategy. On nearly every web page you find additional or related links which can be visited.

To get information about a nation, important persons or happenings, fill in the keyword and receive the needed results. If students need any background-knowledge about things they have talked about in class they should contact a search engine.

5. How Can the Internet be Used for the LK English

Once connected to the net you will have the biggest information data server of the world. Especially for students, a lot of resources are offered.

5.1 Dictionaries

Many dictionaries are based on the Web, most of them are easy to use and reply quickly. It is amazing that most dictionaries are located on German university's servers.

Englisch-Wörterbücher aller Arthttp://www.forwiss.uni-passau.de~ramsch/english.html

These online dictionaries are a collection of English-German and German-English dictionaries. If a word can't be found in your dictionary at home, it is possible to go online and try it in these huge filled "Online Dictionaries". Using an online dictionary saves money. You don't have to buy new and expensive dictionaries anymore, because the web-dictionaries get continuously updated. But you do not get detailed information about the different ways the word can be used, like you find in the books of Langenscheidt or Ponds.

5.2 Resources for English Stylistic Devices and Writing Skill

In English classes, students ohave to analyse stories, articles or texts. This takes a main part in English learning. They should be able to deal with an given text, to understand and to interpret it. Common questions about a text are to figure out the theme, plot, point of view or a characterization. In the Internet, you find pages which explain these objects and tell you how to express and find them in a given text.

5.2.1 Stylistic Resources

How to Critique Fictionhttp://www.webcom.com/~victory/ howcritic.html

At this website you find different styles of literature criticisms. You find a plan how to go through a text most effectively step by step. In order to improve your writing, it is shown how to analyse a given text and to deal with questions. It provides hints about 'Plot', 'Characterization' or 'Point of View' and many other important things about critiquing.

Victory Crayne, the author, did a fantastic job in writing this page to give everybody an outlook about the way of analysing texts. Before a forthcoming test it is helpful for LK students to contact this page, because it prepares them perfectly to deal with questions in LK English tests and in the final exam, the Abitur.

Writer's Webhttp://www.urich.edu/~writing/wweb.html

One of the best writing-related link on the web is the Writer's Web. It is set up by an American college from the University of Richmond/VI. It gives students a sophisticated tools to help them formulate better English. This web-page includes links to wonderfully explained websites about problems every student must face, like draa paper, punctuation, sentence structure or quoting. For example, you see on the page ‘Using Paraphrases’ the right way to restate another person's idea.

There are not only stylistic devices, but also hints about how to write an essay or a text good enough that it can passed to teachers, professors or emplAnother helpful link is the site about the right way of integrating resources in an essay or expert work. The sites of Writers Web are easy to understand and are a pearl of online English learning resources. It is an important reference page for students to consult in about forgotten forms.

5.2.2 English Language Learning Resources

To learn a foreign language is hard. In most cases the language you want to learn has no roots together with your own language. Some resources in the Internet help you to deal with the English language and get most out of your efforts.

BenJXhttp://www.ozemail.com.au/~cdug/#laguage

One of the oldest educational resource on the Internet is offered by BenJX. These websites explain the visitor how to learn a foreign language and how to get used to the world of the Internet. There are texts ready to download about learning English on the Internet, but also general texts about the "normal" way of language learning. They teach you to achieve the best results in further studies and explain, how to succeed in other areas, like reading, writing or speaking. They go deeper into debating and negotiating in a foreign language. You can download texts about courses to improve your language skills in a very short time.

Further Internet addresses are useful for advanced English students. They can be visited as well, because they include more material to gain the language knowledge, like Writing Help [http://www.hut.fi/~rvilmi/LangHelp/Writing]. This is a collection of links to other writing sources.

The Keith Ivey's English Usage Page [http://www.webcom/~keivey/engusage] is a miscellany of links to spelling or pronouncing pages and many other educational resources.

5.3 Grammar Resources

The most important thing about speaking a language correctly is the right use of its grammar. The English grammar is not very difficult, but it still provides a lot of problems to students. The Internet offers many web sites dealing with grammar.

5.3.1 Online Grammars

If you want to use the Internet like a big grammar-encyclopaedia, you should try the following resources.

An online-English Grammarhttp://www.edunet.com/english/grammar/toc.html

This is the best grammar on the net. It is set up by the Edunet International Organization and written by Anthony Hughes. On these pages lots of explanations about the use of adjectives, adverbs or nouns can be found. The definite and indefinite articles: the, an, a, or the distributives: either, neither, nor, each, every , are explained. Not one chapter is missing in this excellent online grammar.

It is very helpful for students, because it gets updated continuously and gives more examples than any school book can offer.

Grammar Help Pagehttp://www.hut.fi/~rvilmi/Langhelp/Grammar

Ruth Vilmi set up this link page. You can find information about punctuation, spelling, but also lots of grammatical information, like explanations about the right use of pronouns, the passive or vocabulary.

The Perdue Online Writing Lab

http://owl.trc.perdue.edu/

The best organized and best filled grammatical and style library on the Internet is offered by Perdue College/Indiana. An Online Writing Lab(oratory) shows you how to use English grammatically correct and explains you how to use several terms. The list of explanations last from sentence structure, commas, quotations to spelling and gerunds. If you have questions about these terms, you will find good examples and comparisons. It is the best website for students to surf in and explore the rules and the use of the English language. As far as I am concerned, it is the best help for students on the web.

Grammar and Style Noteshttp://www.english.upenn.edu/~jlynch/grammar.html

This website was invented by Jack Lynch. It is a little encyclopaedia about grammatical rules and explanations and comments on style. The material is ordered in alphabetical capitals and therefore you can find your grammatical term easily by using this search feature.

If you search for the difference between "affect" and "effect", you will get this result:

Affect versus Effect:

Affect with an a is usually a verb; effect with an e is (usually) a noun.

-

When you affect something, you have an effect on it. The usual adjective is effective.

-

Effect as a verb is a different word altogether, which means to bring about or to accomplish, as in "to effect a change."

If you read this phrase you recognize that it is not explained correctly. It is wrong that "affect" is usually a verb and "effect" usually a noun. It is wrong as well that the noun "effect" is a different word altogether, because it has the same meaning like the verb. The whole text does not exactly explain the diversity of the words "affect" and "effect".

5.3.2 Advanced Grammar Resources

Grammatical Support, which tries to go deeper into the English grammar, is located on the web, as well. It will be helpful for every student to use these resources to improve the capability of using English correctly. But these sources will not produce gistudents or improve their skills dramatically athey went through them. They only support learning beside school.

The English Grammar Clinichttp://www.edunet.com/english/clinic-h.html

This 'Clinic' was also set up by Edunet International. It is an outstanding resource for students as well as for native English speakers. You can send your English grammar questions to the Lydbury English Centre (Email-link on the website). Your email will be answered by professional teachers. For answers you can enter a forum, or the so called "Grammar Cafe" for a chat. If you think your question is a common question, that it might be answered at once, you can visit the FAQ-page, where you find a lot of common answered grammar questions.

I myself downloaded the whole FAQ-page and saved it on a hard drive, because it already covered all my grammar problems and so I did not have to contact the teachers in the forum.

CNN Newsroom for ESLhttp://lc.byuh.edu/cnn_n/cnn_n_page.html

These websites contain grammar, vocabulary and comprehension questions based on real stories. You can choose between vocabulary, grammar and discussion material right at the frontage. The resources are only available during the school year, but you can get access to previous exercises at any time.

Additional grammar resources can be found on the link-page "Grammar Resources for English Language Learners" [http://www.tcom.ohiou.edu/OU_Language/english/ Grammar.html].

Another page which includes grammar sources is the English Grammar Links for English Students [http://www.gl.umbc.edu/kpokHomework Support

Students ohave problems doing their homework. The worst case which can happen is not to understand what it is all about or lack of knowledge in a science area. There are two good homework supporting pages on the web.

Homework Helperhttp://www.trabuco.org/

A teacher from Trabuco Hills High School will help in nearly every subject, no matter whether maths, physics or English. You can leave an email with your question and it will be answered in about 2 or 3 days.

Study Helphttp://www.scott.net/~hmwkhelp/Study-Help.html

On this website five different forums are located. One of them is the English-Help Forum. You can send an email with your problem and you will receive help. The support you will get is not a perfectly solved homework, it is only to make you understand the material.

5.5 Reading Resources for Students

The Internet is the biggest library of the world, because it contains huge sources of written materials. "In the broadest sense, literature is everything that has been written from the classical novel or sonnet to a soap opera script or comic book", (Campbell, page 267). So most of it might be interesting and helpful for students, because reading improves your ability to talk and gains your vocabulary.

5.5.1 Literature

There are many magazines, newspapers and books located on the Internet and beside that, they are available in local stores. On many pages you can find links to famous books or magazines, which get updated daily in the style of the printed copy. There are many specialized areas of literature accessible through the Internet. College campuses around the world have electronic literature resources available. The opportunity for students to download their working material freely is one of the best things about the Internet.

Online Book Pagehttp://www.cs.cmu.edu/Web/books.html

This web-page has a large collection of electronic books that can be distributed freely. Finding your recommended book is easily done by using the search option. You can search by asking an author's name or a book title. On this server, most of the known books of world's literature are located for downloading.

English Literature Main Pagehttp://info.ok.lib.virginia.edu/britpo/

On this page lots of links can be found to works of British authors like Shakespeare, Wordsworth, Oscar Wilde and many more. The main page is divided into the different literature periods from medieval to modern time. On the different time periods pages, you find the full author's works. It does not matter if book or poem, short story or novel, most works are ready for downloading together with some information about the authors. This page is very helpful for LK students, because they will learn a lot of British authors and have a good collection of facts and works.

The Complete Works of Shakespearehttp://the-tech.mit.edu/Shakespeare/works.html

The complete dramas of Shakespeare, including Hamlet, Mac Beth, the sonnets and many more are available on this web-page. You find a simple tablet already divided into the sections Comedy, History, Tragedy and Poetry. In these scales you find further links to your required work.

Banned Books Onlinehttp://www.cs.cmu.edu/WebPeople/spok/banned-books.html

The Banned Book Page is a part of the Online Book Page and maintains a page for books that were banned or were attempted to be banned by legal authorities at some time in the past. You find books like Ulysses by James Jor Chaucer's Canterbury Tales.

The information is very interesting and can be used for a report in front of the class.

5.5.2 Newspapers, Magazines

"Although literature has lagged behind the sciences in getting journals in an electronically format, there is a move in this direction", (Campbell, page 276). But every big newspaper or magazine is already offering an Internet issue of its printings. They are well organized and easy to read by using the HTML Standard for scrolling through the different pages.

The biggest American newspapers, also available throughout the world, maintains their daily issue on the web, like USA Today [http://usa-tday.com/usafront.htm] or The New York Times [http://www.nytimes.com/]. A mouse click on the headlines on the front-page leads to the articles. To read a newspaper online is cheaper than it is to buy it in the store. It is a good resource for students, if they need articles for a news report.

CNN Interactive World News Main Pagehttp://www.cnn.com/World/index.html

Ted Turner's world's biggest news channel offers daily updated news from all over the world, together with fantastic pictures and sometimes audio and video files. You can also read all the written news from past days and webut without audio and image support.

5.5.3 Comprehension Reading Resources

Impact Onlinehttp://www.ed.uiuc.edu/impact/

The University of Illinois set up this page. It maintains older English articles. In these articles, you can click on the important words and look up their meaning. The articles are based on a lower level and shouldn't be a big problem for LK English students.

Tongue Twistershttp://www.wu-wien.ac.at/usr/h93/h9325997/fun/twisters.htmlhttp://darkwing/uoregon.edu/~leslieob/twisters.html

Tongue Twisters are funny chains of alliterations. These two web sites offer lots of English tongue twisters. Look them up and start laughing!

Fluency Through Fableshttp://www.comenius.com/fable/1_fable.html

On this page you can read fables, mostly written by Aesop, check the vocabulary and answer given questions about them. The new learned vocabulary can be used in a completion text right away. The Comenius Group [http://www.comenius.com] offers a lot of learning material. The start-up main page can be also received in German.

The fables and exercises should not be a big problem for students. I think they are easy to understand and help only very little to improve your English.

Biographyhttp://www.biography.com

Here you find a library about mostly every known writers', scientists' or artists' biographies. A search function helps to get information within seconds about the person you look for. This page is very important for LK Students, especially for their reports. Here they get material about the persons they have to talk about.

5.6 Listening and Speaking Resources

The Internet does not only contains written material. Beside graphics, it contains audio-files. This kind of "multimedia" can be used wonderfully in all sorts of education.

Learning Oral English Onlinehttp://www.lang.uiuc.edu/r-li5/book/

This page, provided by the University of Illinois, offers conversational texts, which are connected to audio-file by using HTML technology. The easy and understandable dialogues deal with situations taken out of daily life. They won't be a real support for the LK student, because they are too easy. To receive the audio-dates, you need a special plug-in. A link to get the required sois on the page.

WeIdiomhttp://www.comenius.com/idiom/index.html

The weidiom, offered by the Comenius Group, is a term which is a common expression in the English language. The idiom is defined and other dialogue examples are given, it can be downloaded in an audio form as well.

The idioms are good for students, because they are mostly not part of the normal vocabulary. This website really helps to gain the students' vocabulary.

Audio On-Demandhttp://www.wrn.org/audio.html

Since everything is possible on the Internet, many radio stations can be received via the web. On this page are resources offered by radio stations from all over the world, like from Radio Australia, Radio Canada International and many more. So if you want to listen to English language, you can turn to this page. I think the Internet's radio feature is a nice little tool, but the quality of listening to it is not as good as it is of a normal radio.

5.7 English Tests and Comprehension Materials

5.7.1 English Tests

The SAT and ACT exams are used for college admission. The result of your exam counts 30% of the admission decision. You will have to attend these tests if you apply for a college in America. You do not need to take both tests. It depends on the college you are interested in, which test is preferred. But normally you take both tests, especially if you don't do well in one of these tests. The exams are offered nation-wide seven times throughout the year.

(cf. IN-A-Flash, http://INAFLASH.COM/testinfo.htm)

If you are not a native English speaker you will have to take the TOEFL test as well. It is a exam in which your English language skills are tested. The TOEFL is designed to measure the English proficiency of people whose native language is not English. It is required for admission to almost every university in the United States and Canada. This test is offered in schools in the United States, but you can take them in most major cities throughout the world. In our area the Amerikahaus in Nuremberg offers this exam.

If an Austrian student wants to study in the USA or Canada, all three tests will have to be taken to be accepted in a college. The following web addresses might be very helpful.

TESTPREP.COM ™http://www.testprep.com/tpsatete.html

This web-page is the only one which offers free and complete online SAT test-preparation courses. It helps and supports you in all the different areas of the test: maths, vocabulary and 700 practice problems. Now, the course is only available for the SAT test, but pages for the TOEFL and ACT will soon follow. You can start working with some useful practice pages right away and find links to offered prep-products on the web, which you can order online.

To take the test is not only helpful if you want to study in the US, but it will also improve your English knowledge.

Red Rock Internationalhttp://www.cadvision.com/herbertj/info.htm

An Australian web-page can be found on this address, which offers some preparation resources for the TOEFL. This is more an advertising page for their product, called "The Test Taker", which can be purchased online. You can download only 1/4 of the commercial soas shareware, but still it helps to get along with the TOEFL. Images of the available sogive an example about the sobefore you order it.

TOEFLhttp://www.toefl.org/index.htmlhttp://www.kaplan.com/intl/toefl_top.html

These Internet websites set up by the ETS-NET Server (Educational Testing Service) offer everything you need for the exam. This page helps you to get the best preparation. It provides hints about taking the test, the dates of the test and where you can take it. You can click on a bulletin-board and look at international test dates. The page gives you a wide overview about available preparation products. Examples and parts are ready to be downloaded in order to tell you more about the test.

BEAT THE TOEFLhttp://www.testwise.com/review.html

The whole previous TOEFL test can be downloaded on this web-page. You find the questions to all areas: 'Listening Comprehension', 'Structure and Written Expressions' and 'Reading Comprehensions'. To take a look at the previous TOEFL test would be a good support before you take the latest issue of the test.

5.7.2 Comprehension Courses and Tests

If you don't want to study in North America, you still have chances to get your English skills tested, beside the tests in school. Some organizations offer online tests or courses in which every online user can take part.

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