A while back I was working at a place that installed computers in all their classrooms, for teachers to use with 1-1s and small groups. I never really found much use for them during the classes themselves, except for helping an accountant understand the word ‘heffalump’ one time.

Now it’s come up again. I’m teaching a class (tomorrow! yikes!) titled ‘e-learning’, which will see me in a computer lab with a bunch of 13-yr olds for an hour and a half. The only guideline from the school was ‘some activity based on the earlier class, and maybe have them make a foreign friend in a chatroom’. (Obviously they didn’t see the news report about foreigners meeting junior high kids in chatrooms and sodomizing them. :unamused: )

I have a few ideas of my own, and it’s probably a bit late to be asking for help on my immediate problem. But this is obviously going to crop up again for me and for others, so what bright ideas does the community have :?:


I had to search for something similar recently. There’s a lot of good stuff for younger students, but not much for that age group. Admitedly I didn’t have time to do a really good search. I don’t have the links with me either, but basically I just searched under combinations of the words esl, english, activities, online, learning, children, kids, and found stuff like crosswords, hangman, memory games, word searches etc. One interesting thing I found was a ‘bot’ named Alice. That’s a program that tries to mimc human speech to ask and answer questions - could be good for students to try and have a ‘conversation’ with.


Thanks, O master batman.

Did you try the ‘make George Bush talk’ thingy that the stop the war coalition created a while back? They took it down later, but I have a feeling it’s still around somewhere. Trying to get proper sentences out of the limited vocab on offer was good for 10-15 minutes the one time I tried it.

For a quick 5 minutes of fun there’s always zefranks directline to santa, and I did have a fairly satisfactory lesson once with life’s lessons - the point was to get the kids to understand the meanings of all the titles, and guess what would happen when you followed the links, before being allowed to watch the funnies. Then get them to describe what they saw.

But for serious stuff I haven’t really started looking. Too much time forumosing, and not enough time working. 'S gonna be another 6 am start tomorrow!

My plan was to have them search for information supplemental to the ‘news’ story we looked at today. ie to educate them in the use of search engines and practise skimming for information. This is more what the school had in mind than computer-based learning of english.

I’m keeping well away from chatrooms - they’re not going to see much correct english there, as much as anything else.

I’m drawing up a list of questions that they probably can’t answer without some outside source of information, but I’m venturing into unknown territory with this. They’re not students that I have ever taught before today. After 3 hrs with them today I’m still not really sure how much they’re going to be able to understand of what they will find.

I’m thinking along these lines:

The news story was a little article I wrote about an american family (kids of similar ages to the students) that has just spent a couple of years sailing across the Pacific and is currently in Whangerei, NZ. (An OK place from what I remember.)

After reading and understanding we moved onto a discussion/planning session on the premise that the students were going to do the same thing. I gave them a bunch of questions to consider, and mid-way through the group work produced extracts from the diaries of the kids and one parent.

It worked pretty well, and the kids seemed to get into it.

Tomorrow I’m going to give them a list of questions/tasks such as
Find a picture of a lemon shark?
What is the name of the King of Tonga? How much does he weigh?
Find the family website and tell me what colour is the mom’s hair
Give me an interesting fact about Whangerei
Who is the PM of NZ etc etc etc

I might add more difficult questions such as ‘when is the hurricane season in the south pacific?’ but that’s probably going to be beyond them. These are 13-14 yr olds at a public junior high, and a few of 'em do seem to have excellent english skills but I need to pitch the majority of the work at the majority of the students.

Any more suggestions, any one?