Introduction We teachers do not have to be computer freaks or IT experts to use modern technological tools during lessons of English. We can have classes in the computer labs that in our country majority of lower and higher secondary schools are equipped with and we can start from something that does not require a lot of preparation on our part.
The first simplest step is to use online resources that are prepared by the publishers and made available to the public. There you can do vocabulary and grammar exercises, practical English activities, practice pronunciation and last but not least play computer games of some educational merit.
The next stage is to construct lessons in which students use Internet sites to complete tasks and further on to create their own product. The ideas can be taken from various handbooks for teachers but we suggest using them as a kind of inspiration and by ‘splitting the atom’ producing your own materials suitable for your students, their level, needs or interests.
Later on when our expertise as a skillful users of IT develops we can prepare lessons based on creating a wiki which can be published on the net and made available for the school audience. The teacher sets up a wiki and edits the base text letting the students do online research on the topic, edit it and contribute changes they see fit. The process of setting up a wiki is very simple and even the least experienced teacher can learn it in approximately 10 minutes with the help of www.wikihost.org.
When we began using the computers and consequently the Internet, we experienced a substantial rise in the interest and motivation of our students. By using the tool which is attractive in itself for the youngsters we achieved higher involvement in the tasks. Our students reacted in a very positive way and with excitement to the prospect of Internet based lessons and treated them as a reward in the otherwise tedious daily school routine.
Another benefit of using Internet sites is access to authentic language that is often absent in the oversimplified world of school coursebooks.
We would like to share three scripts of lessons in which Internet is used as a source of both information and authentic English. Our lessons are organized according to a simple and clear plan that can be adjusted to classes of different level from elementary to upper-intermediate and higher.
The first two lessons are based on the principle of: www: warmer, web, what next?. The students are prepared to use Internet sites and to perform practical tasks through introductory exercises (vocabulary brainstorming) and the use of on-line dictionaries. Later on they proceed to performing tasks prepared beforehand by the teacher. Students go through the texts and look for relevant information and answer questions or solve the assigned problems. For the lower levels we concentrated on practical things such as looking for jobs, means of transport e.g. planes, buses, ferries, and many others. More advanced students can not only answer the questions but also prepare a detailed product/project such as an itinerary of a gap year trip, see sample lesson.
The final stage of the lesson is the presentation of the students’ findings. In this way we combine the practice of different skills. We also make students revise and concentrate on vocabulary taken from certain fields and develop their speaking and presentation skills. The third lesson shows the procedure of setting up a wiki which our students co-create.
The most effective technique of managing the tasks by the students is pair work; they can cooperate discussing and helping each other with the decisions and unknown words, moreover, if any of them has a problem with a technical side of the task the more IT advanced person usually solves it without asking the teacher.
The only phase of the lesson that might turn out problematic is the transition from the tasks carried out with the help of the Internet to initiating speaking activity. The best way to make it smooth and easy is to ask students to turn towards the teacher or even switch the computers off to let them concentrate on different types of exercises.
The sites we used are publicly available in Internet and as we use them in educational purposes and do not benefit from them in any way so we believe it is a fair use of them.