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Internet Based Language Instruction, A Lesson Plan

Lesson Overview Course: Second Year University English Language Program (Taiwan): Public Speaking Forum Number of Students: approximately 25 Age of Students: 18 to 35 years Level: Intermediate to Advanced. Duration: 1 Hour and 40 minutes, with a 10 minute break. Topic: Interview with an international volunteer. Objectives Give the students to practice their English with […]

Lesson Overview
Course: Second Year University English Language Program (Taiwan): Public Speaking Forum
Number of Students: approximately 25
Age of Students: 18 to 35 years
Level: Intermediate to Advanced.
Duration: 1 Hour and 40 minutes, with a 10 minute break.
Topic: Interview with an international volunteer.

Objectives
Give the students to practice their English with a native speaker without leaving the classroom.
Question construction relating to a specific topic.
Posting to a Blog.

Materials and equipment needed
Computer Classroom with Computers running Microsoft Windows, Apple OS X or Linux.
Data Transfer: networked computers with fast Internet connection (LAN with Internet)
Video input: Web-camera
Video output: Projector
Audio input: Microphone with stand
Audio output: Speakers
Software: Skype®
Guest Speaker: any world-wide location with Internet access, presented via Internet also with Skype®, microphone, web-camera
Blog web page set up for the students to access.

Lesson Summary

The students will participate in a video conference with a native English speaker. The students will, after a brief introduction to the lesson, read pertinent information on a webpage and prepare questions for the video conference. Once these tasks are completed, the video-conference will begin. The teacher will assume the role of moderator; the students will assume the role of an informal ‘interviewer’ and interview the guest speaker via the internet. At the end of class the students are to be instructed to post their thoughts on both the lesson and the topic to a pre-designated blog for homework.

Following this lesson, students should be able to:
Navigate to a web page
Construct questions appropriate to topic
Use the internet as a means of communication.
Take part in a ‘live’ internet discussion.
Post thoughts and remarks to a blog.

    Notes to the Teacher

Level of proficiency: intermediate to advanced
Time suggested for the activity: 1 hour 50 minutes
The class is made of two periods with a 10 minute break in the middle.
The classroom must be set up in an appropriate way so that the students have easy access to the microphone as well as being able to see the screen.
The microphone should be placed a few meters in front of the screen so that the students are looking at the screen when asking questions, not looking at the classroom with their back to the screen.
The web-camera should be placed in close proximity to the screen so that when the students are looking at the screen, they are also looking into the camera. This will give the illusion of a face-to-face conversation as well as simulating eye-contact.
The Red Cross Website is updated often. The content on the website changes often. For this reason, it is advisable to ensure that the web pages listed in this lesson plan are still relevant. It is advisable to be familiar with the website content before class.

    Introduction

The teacher will explain the benefits of video conferencing and how it can be utilized by students to advance their listening/speaking skills.
The teacher will then explain about the topic (Volunteer work) and about the person they are going to have an informal interview with (an International Red Cross volunteer).
The teacher will show the students the International Committee of the Red Cross webpage found at http://www.icrc.org/ and navigate to the “English” page. The teacher will then navigate to the “Jobs at the ICRC” page, found at http://www.icrc.org/Web/eng/siteeng0.nsf/htmlall/jobs
The teacher will then instruct the students to read “from the field” found at http://www.icrc.org/web/eng/siteeng0.nsf/html/nepal-stories-310306
The students will then be told that they are going to meet an international volunteer via the internet.

    Pre-reading activity: group discussion.

1. How would you describe a person who does volunteer work?
2. What do you think about doing volunteer work for your entire life?
3. What are some benefits/costs of dedicating your life to helping others?

    Independent reading

The students can then open their own web-browser and navigate to the Red Cross website. http://www.icrc.org/web/eng/siteeng0.nsf/html/nepal-stories-310306
Questions to think about as you are reading about Red Cross volunteers:
• How many people volunteer with the Red Cross?
• What kind of work do they do?
• Would you be interested in volunteering?
• Do you think the benefits outweigh the risks?

    To Students:

After reading, you will then discuss what you have read with your group partners and discuss cultural differences between countries.

    Discussion activity:

In groups of 4-5, talk about the similarities and differences between family life in the different countries you read about. Refer to the questions above to ask each other for more details.

You will then report what you found the most interesting about your discussion to the class.
The students will then be told that they are going to meet an International Red Cross Volunteer and they can prepare questions in advance of the conversation.

    Note to the teacher:

This lesson is part of an English Conversation Class designed for second year university students. The students have prior knowledge of the vocabulary used on the websites. If a class using this lesson plan is not familiar with the necessary vocabulary, a vocabulary worksheet prepared for the students in advance would be necessary to ensure the class time is not devoted to terminology and explanations. The teacher must be certain of students’ computer ability and online reading as some students may need to be shown how to navigate to the designated website.

Stages
Minutes (approximate)
Learning Objectives
Procedure
Expected outcomes

Introduction to topic.
10 Minutes
The students will be introduced to volunteer work. The benefits and drawbacks of working in this field.

The students will then be introduced to Internet video conferencing.
The teacher will introduce the topic of volunteer work and the use of the internet for video conferencing. The students will be instructed to navigate to the International Red Cross’s homepage.
The students will gain a knowledgeable background of volunteer work as well as the use of the internet for video conferencing.

Read the guest’s Webpage
10 Minutes
Practice reading authentic web pages.
Students read the webpage text independently. The teacher assists students in need and monitors the progress.
Students independently practice reading an online, authentic English based webpage and navigate within the site.

Discussion
15 Minutes
Share ideas/peer editing
Discussion of the questions that the students may ask before they have been constructed.
Students will gain further insight of the topic and guest through listening and sharing of pertinent ideas.

Question construction
15 Minutes
Preparation of questions appropriate to a live interview.
Students can work in groups or alone, which ever they feel most comfortable. They can construct questions that they may ask of the ‘interviewee’
Construction of appropriate questions for an interview.

Break
10 Minutes

Video Conferencing
35 Minutes
A chance to utilize listening, speaking and conversational skills in real-time with a native speaker via the Internet
Students can come up to the microphone, introduce themselves and ask their question(s).
Students utilize their language skills to interview a person.

Post Conference
13 Minutes
Discuss the conference proceedings.
Bring to the floor any questions so they may be answered.
A chance for students to give feedback on their thoughts of the conference.
A teacher mediated discussion of topics brought up during the conference. Teacher begins a discussion on the proceedings of the conference and elicits any questions students may pose. The teacher should vocalize some thoughts to initiate discussion.
This activity will allow the students to voice their opinions and listen to other’s immediate reaction to the conference.

Follow-up Discussion
2 Minutes
Students can post their view of the outcome of the conference after it has taken place in a non-classroom atmosphere.
The teacher assigns the homework which includes directions on how to post to the blog. The teacher writes down the web-address of the blog. Students are requested to post their thoughts about the topic and conversation which took place. They are also asked to comment on each other’s postings.
The students post their ideas and reactions to the Blog. This activity will allow the students time to reflect on what was learned and post thoughts of their learning experience as well as responding to other’s feelings. This will give all students a forum in which to express their feelings.

Post Lesson Activity
Post thoughts to a blog.
Homework
A reinforcement of what has been learned in class.

Write a Blog. Post it to the internet for others to read.

Issues: Video conferencing provides a “virtual” face to face meeting. When people meet in “real” situations, eye contact plays an important role. It gives cues for when to speak and when to listen as well as perceived attention and intent. Video conferencing lacks this “eye to eye” contact as participants tend to look at the screen to see the other person and not directly at the camera. This gives the impression that the participant is avoiding eye contact. This problem is currently under research consideration (Bekkering, 2006).

To alleviate this problem, the camera was placed so that when the students were looking at the interviewee (screen) they would be looking directly at the camera as well.

Justification:
This lesson is designed to be authentic as well as including task based learning. Students are asked to work alone, in small groups and as a class. This is important to create different learning atmospheres. While working alone, students may encounter some difficulties which can be addressed while in small groups. On the other hand, students who feel uncomfortable speaking in front of a class will feel less stressful working alone or in small groups.
Authentic interactions which are task-based foster student motivation. The students that I have encountered in Taiwan enjoy meeting new people as well as using chat or video conferencing. After using this lesson plan in class, students have later approached me to say that the interview segment of the lesson proved to be one of the most memorable experiences of their university education.

This lesson provides many different uses of web-based language learning. Including many types of web-based activities will avoid the lesson from becoming inactive. Each part of the lesson is designed to be supportive of the next stage. Each stage has an increasing amount of interaction. The final stage however, the blog, is designed the students to reflect on what has taken place as well as commenting on what others have posted. The use of Blogs allows the student to write, rewrite or edit their thoughts before posting them to the internet. This will minimize students’ fear of making a mistake in the second language as well as fostering confidence and reinstating what was learned.

Written by Aubrey Neil Leveridge for TEFL.net September 2008
Aubrey Neil Leveridge has a Masters of Education from Australia and is presently a teacher and lecturer.

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TEFL.net : ESL Lesson Plans : Classroom Ideas : Teaching : Internet Based Language Instruction, A Lesson Plan