Monday, 10 October 2011

A guest blog post by Lindsey Wright: EFL Beyond Blogging

First ever guest post in my blog. Lindsey contacted me, and kindly offered to write about some other online activities for EFL classes, after reading about my blogging experiments. Thank you for these great tips and links!

Lindsey graduated with a degree in Public Health Administration before relocating with her family to Seattle. She is currently writing, and her favorite topics include health care, work-life balance, and travel.

Teachers everywhere are using the Internet, with its wide variety of instantly available information, as a helpful classroom tool. But did you know the Internet is useful for more than research? There are a wide variety of exercises for teachers of English as a foreign language that are available online. One of the most common exercises for teachers who incorporate interactive internet assignments into their curriculum is asking students to write a blog, but there are also other interesting activities out there for students to experience while enhancing their education. Here is a list of just a few engaging activities that you may want to explore with your students.


One of the most useful tools on the Internet for teaching EFL students is the webquest. A webquest is a lesson plan that is based on proposing questions that students can research and easily answer on the Internet. These “quests” are perfect for students of all levels as well as students who are just learning English, and cover a wide variety of topics. This is largely due to the fact that webquests are designed to maximize the power of a lesson. They are set up so students spend a lot of time using the information they have found rather than looking for it, and use higher level thinking and build language skills as well.

Generally, students who have basic computer proficiency will be able to handle webquests, even if they are younger or are not very familiar with English. Webquest assignments may need to be adapted if the classroom only has one or very few computers, but can generally work in almost any situation.


Another helpful tool for EFL teachers that is being used for online schooling and classroom exercises alike is a wiki. A wiki is a website that is created and edited collaboratively by multiple users. A class can select a topic of interest to them (whether cultural, historical or related to units in other academic classes) and build a website with information about the topic. Additionally, wikis help students learn on an individual level. Each student can be assigned a page that is specifically interesting them that still relates to the overall class topic, and will need to develop research, reading and writing skills in order to actually write their wiki page.

This is a fairly hands-on project for a teacher and requires a familiarity with the Internet and the creation of wikis, but it can be a really powerful tool for a class. Students will be really proud of what they've done when they see their work on the Internet, and the project will develop their language skills in a variety of areas.

Fake Facebook Pages for Historical or Fictional Characters

A final tool that may really engage EFL students is the creation of Facebook pages for historical or fictional characters. This is a really great way to develop research and writing skills while connecting your EFL lessons to other classes. You could assign historical characters from the period of history that your students are studying in their history or social studies classes, or you could assign fictional characters from novels or short stories that are being read in an English class. Alternately, you could simply choose characters that your class has expressed interest in and go from there. The creation of Facebook pages involves research in order to find out biographical information about the characters, as well as photos or artistic depictions of them. It can also develop writing skills as students have to write information about their characters on their pages.

Students will probably be really excited about this project when you announce it to them. You'll have to pay attention, though, as using social networking tools in the classroom makes it all too easy for students to goof off and check their own Facebook pages rather than working on research and writing for the assignment. Also, some school systems may block the use of Facebook on classroom computers, but a variety of offline templates for this project exist. If you can make it work, this will be a great project for your EFL students.

Clearly there a number of ways that allow you to make learning English exciting to your students. However, what is better still is that your options aren't limited to the lesson plans mentioned here. The Internet has opened up a whole world of educational opportunities for teachers and students alike, now all you have to do is explore!

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