Resources for ict application in teaching and learning english

Thứ ba - 02/09/2014 04:01
  1. Introduction
In this Internet era when educational resources are abundant and easy to access, it is not a simple task to search for, evaluate and se-lect a source of learning materials suitable for teachers and students. A simple search query of “resource for learning English” only on Google can lead one to more than 550 million relevant websites. How can English learners and teachers who are not familiar with ICT find the materials without spending hours browsing the Internet? This question has been answered by thousands of Internet users who searched, assessed, curated and shared their collections of useful sites.
Whatever course book is used in an English course, it is still necessary for teachers to prepare supplementary materials so that the class will be more interesting and engaging. These materials can be found f-rom teachers’ book of each course book. However, if teachers want something new and different, or if there is no teachers’ book as in the case of English online courses, the resources on the Internet can be of great help to them. This paper is aimed at the same purpose – providing them with a short description of criteria for se-lecting a good website for learning and a short list of such websites.
  1. Information Literacy
Information literacy is defined as the competence of knowing when there is a need for information, whe-re to find it, assess it, and put it into good use (ACRL, 2000). It is demonstrated by the ability to:
  • “Determine the extent of information needed
  • Access the needed information effectively and efficiently
  • Evaluate information and its sources critically
  • Incorporate se-lected information into one’s knowledge base
  • Use information effectively to accomplish a specific purpose
  • Understand the economic, legal, and social issues surrounding the use of information, and access and use information ethically and legally” (ACRL, 2000)
Meanwhile, information technology skills involves the use of computers, softwares, databases and other pieces of technology to achieve academic, professional and personal goals.
To some English instructors who are in search of new ideas and materials for class, the huge resources f-rom libraries, media, Internet… requires them to take time assessing and se-lecting carefully the ones that are realiable and useful. Among those resources, Internet tends to be the best choice for its easy accessibility and efficient search function, but to use it effectively, teachers should learn how to evaluate a website to serve the lesson goals. Kapoun (2000), Henderson (2014), Kirk (2010), Tilman (2003), Burkhardt (2003) among others have similar ideas about the criteria of a good website:
  1. Authority: who is the author, is he/she qualified to write about the relevant topic, is there a way to contact him/her?
  2. Accuracy: are there any reasons to believe in the information presented, is the information cited properly?
  3. Objectivity: what’s the purpose of the site, what are the author’s opinions?
  4. Time: what is the posting time, when is it up-dated?
  5. Contents: can you find the information you want, how detailed, academic is the information
  6. Organization of the site: is it easy to navigate the site, is it user-friendly, is there any sitemap, are the links to other sites working?
There are also criteria to evaluate a web tool or mobile app teachers can refer to, such as the following:
Qualities Questions
Language learning potential Do task conditions present sufficient opportunity for focus on form?
Learner fit Is the difficulty level of the targeted linguistic forms appropriate for the learners to increase their language ability?
Meaning focus Is learners’ attention directed primarily toward the meaning of the language?
Authenticity Is there a correspondence between the CALL task and second language tasks of interest to students outside the classroom?
Impact Will learners learn more about the target language and about strategies for language learning through the use of the task?
Practicality Are hardware, software, and personnel resources sufficient to allow the CALL task to succeed?
(Chapelle, 2005)
  1. List of useful websites for teaching and learning English
Based on the criteria for evaluating a web tool or mobile app mentioned above, the following websites are chosen as useful tools in order to help teachers and students save searching time and enhance the quality of each lesson.
1. For teaching activities and ideas
Fun English Games @
This is a site for primary and secondary classes in which you can find activities, games, quizzes, videos, exercises for vocabulary, grammar, writing on various topics. These materials can be used online and offline.
Learn English Kids @
A similar web page for kids by British Council with a wide range of activities and exercises.
Teaching English @
There are many tools for teachers here, such as flash cards, staffroom posters, phonemic c-harts, teaching knowledge database, etc. There is also a community corner whe-re users can write blogs, share, and get connected with other teachers.
Education outside the classroom @
This site provides ideas for fun outdoor activities to improve English and some fundamental knowledge and skills about life, science, technology, math, PE, etc.
2. For listening skils
ESL Lab @
Teachers and students can find lots of listening practice here in the form of short dialogues followed by multiple choice and cloze exercises. There is a wide range of topics organized into easy, medium and difficult levels including pre- and post-listening activities. It is suitable especially for those who are taking TOEFL as it is American English.
Open Forum @
This OUP page offers academic listening practice with conversations, talks, lectures, debates followed by multiple choice and true-false questions. Students can learn about American culture, pronunciation and speaking too.
VOA Learning English @
Short articles read slowly in American English will help students with both listening skills and vocabulary on various topics.
BBC Learning English @
Like VOA, BBC provides lots of listening materials in short articles which can be used to improve other skills and knowledge as well.
3. Speaking skills
ESL Discussions @
This page offers hundreds of questions on different topics for students to practice speaking. The questions are organized in pairs, for student A & B and promote students’ critical thinking.
Internet TESL Journal @
Topics and questions which are not available on ESL discussions can be found here. Other sections of the site may be useful for teachers including Activities, lessons plans, journal articles...
Easy conversations @
ESL Gold
Students of elementary levels would find this site help in developing their speaking skills with sample conversations and audio files on different topics like daily life, school life, transportation, entertainment, dating, etc.
Effective Public Speaking @
Provides expressions and guides on making a presentation.
4. For Reading skills
5 minutes English @
Short reading articles followed by definition of new words and questions.
Using English @
Reading comprehension practice in Cambridge Certificate format.
Similar sites:
Business English:
5. For writing skills
ESL flow @
Guides and exercises for various kinds of essays such as Opinion/argument, cause/effect, comparison/contrast…
British Council @
Writing practice divided into levels and topics.
Owl Writing Lab @
Exercises for grammar, vocabulary, structure, etc. to support writing skills.
  1. Conclusion
This paper summarizes some key points in information literacy and provides a short list of websites which are useful for English learning and teaching. In the scope of a personal collection, there must be other good web tools which are not mentioned here, so it is hoped to serve as a foundation for readers and other professionals to share and contribute to the community of practice their ideas and resources to make learning and teaching more fun.

Association of College and Research Library (2000). Information Literacy Standards for Higher Education. Retrieved f-rom
Burkhalt, J.M., et al. (2003). Teaching Information Literacy . American Library Association. Chicago.
Chapelle, C.A. (2001). Computer Applications in Second Language Acquisition. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
Henderson, J. R. (2014). The ICYouSee Critical Thinking Guide. Retrieved f-rom
Kapoun, Jim (2000). Teaching Undergrads WEB Evaluation: A Guide for Library Instruction. C&RL News (July/August 1998): 522-523.
Kirk, E. E (2010). Evaluating Information Found on the Internet. The Sheridan Libraries, Johns Hopkins University. Retrieved f-rom
Tillman, H. (2003). Evaluating Quality on the Net. Retrieved f-rom

Tác giả bài viết: Pham Tien Hung, HaNoi University

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