through the Internet and Intranet
Pedagogy: A Choice for Language Teachers
article proposes “Self-Directed Learning through the
Internet and Intranet Pedagogy” as a choice for
language teachers to use to enhance students’ language
skills, cognitive and academic abilities, computer
literacy and self-actualization needs. Before
introducing the method, information about students’
needs and wants as well as computer background needs to
be assessed. A questionnaire on “the Use of
Computer in Teaching and Learning English” as an
informal classroom inventory is provided.
As the new millennium is just around the corner,
language teachers are facing more responsibility.
Apart from regular work, i.e., improving students’
language skills, teachers have to prepare students to
cope with the world of information technology,
Internet communication, as well as enhancing their
self-actualization needs. How can teachers
accomplish so many things simultaneously?
Self-Directed Learning through the
Internet and Intranet Pedagogy seems to be an answer to
language teachers. The advantages of the Internet
have been mentioned by many educators. For example, Kim
Gray (1997) points out that “the internet is such an
infinite collection of resources. With access to
all this information, I and our teachers can be more
creative, up-to-date, and ‘cool’” (Sperling,
Regarding self-actualization needs, Disick (1975)
suggests that it can be obtained by providing a variety
of learning choices in the classroom: pace, content,
method or style of learning and nature of testing.
Being aware of the individual differences among the
students, the teacher will be viewed as the person who
helps them to discover ways to move toward
self-actualization in their learning activities.
At university level, English is taught as a medium of
communication. It is used as a tool to seek
knowledge and share information. Chulalongkorn
University Language Institute has adopted the philosophy
of self-directed learning because of the fundamental
belief that language learning is life-long
education. The teacher is the facilitator who
provides comprehensible input and gives feedback to the
students’ output. It is the students themselves
who accomplish their own objectives through
self-directed learning. The teachers’ role is to help
activate and enhance their esteem needs.
the implementation of Self-Directed Learning through the
Internet and Intranet Pedagogy, the needs of the
students must be assessed, i.e., their ability to use
the computer, their needs and wants in using the
computer, and their method or style of learning.
Therefore, a questionnaire on the Use of the
Computer in Teaching and Learning English was
distributed to 28 first-year Economic students enrolled
in Foundation English II in November 1997. There
were 16 female students and 12 male students. The
following questions were asked in the
you use a computer?
do you use computers for?
a. playing games
3. Do you
want to use CALL programs? If yes, which skill do
you want to practise?
b. practising English by
c. typing reports
d. sending e-mail
e. getting information from the
World Wide Web
f. getting information from
g. writing web pages
a. listening b.
c. reading d.
types of activities do you prefer?
a. individual work b. pair
c. group work
many tasks do you want to perform?
are the tasks that you want to do?
the tasks be graded?
yes, what is a suitable score?
Regarding Question 1, 22 students (78.57%) answered that
they could use the computer while six students (21.43%)
said that they could not. Their answer for
Question 2 is given in Table 1.
Students’ Response on
Their Use of the Computer
||Practising English by
||Getting information from
the World Wide Web
||Getting information from
||Writing web pages
large majority of the students used the computer to type
reports (30.77%), and play games (28.21%).
Twenty-one percent used the computer to get information
from the WWW while 8.97% used it to get information from
CD-Roms. About 8% employed the computer to
e-mail. Surprisingly, only 2.56% used CALL
programs to practise English and
||only one student
(1.28%) was capable of writing web pages.
Although only two students used the computer to practise
their English, this does not mean that they did not want
to do it. Their desire to use the computer in this
respect is presented in Table 2.
in Using the Computer
to Practise Language
The students wanted to use the computer to practise
English in four skills, i.e., listening, reading,
speaking and writing. About 60% of the whole class
(n = 17) preferred listening and reading whereas
57% (n = 16) wanted speaking and writing.
Their answers suggest that they all wanted the four
skills with the same proportion
percentage is not high. Presumably, this group of
students probably wanted multi-skill
regards Question 4, “Which types of activities do you
prefer?,” Table 3 presents their responses.
Types of Activities
Nineteen students (65.52%) preferred group work
activities while ten students (34.48%) liked pair work
tasks. Surprisingly, none of them wanted
individual work activities. We can imply from this
that the popular
language activities are those involving interactive
asked, “ How many tasks do you want?,” the students
gave the following responses.
The Number of Tasks
The majority indicated that the appropriate number of
tasks was three. The second rank was two
tasks. Therefore, when planning a CALL syllabus we
should consider that between two and three computer
||were such as most
appropriate in the English class. Which tasks can
the teacher provide for the students? Their
responses in Table 5 probably give some guidelines.
English by using CALL programs
information from WWW
information from CD-Roms
Twenty-six percent wanted to do the task involving
getting information from WWW. About 20 % wanted to
e-mail their friends and 17% wanted to play games. These
were the top three tasks. The rest were writing web
pages (13.04%), practising English by using CALI
programs (10.87%) ,and typing reports
The next question asked in the questionnaire is “Should
the tasks be graded?” About 56% said that they
wanted their tasks to be graded whereas 44% percent did
not. As regards the last question, “If graded,
what is the appropriate score?,” Table 6
presents the students’ points of view in this aspect.
Students’ Points of
View on the Scores of the Tasks
The appropriate score for the assigned tasks seemed to
be twenty. The next one was fifteen. This
may depend on the number of tasks given.
though the questionnaire was given to a group of
Economic students, the results yielded the following
fruitful information for language teachers who want to
include computer tasks in their language teaching.
First-year Economic students at Chulalongkorn University
know how to use the computer. Seventy-nine percent
of an English class know how to use it so the majority
of the students may not have problems if the teacher
wants to add computer tasks to the language class.
2. Most of the
Economic students used the computer to type their
reports (30.77%), play games (28.21%) and get
information from WWW (20.51%). Only three percent
used CALL programs to practise English. This
indicates that the use of computer in English classes is
3. The first-year Economic students examined in this
study did not reject the use of computer in their
English class. They showed interest in using it to
practise the four language skills although the
percentage was not high.
students preferred pair-work and group-work activities
to individual work. Group-work activities were
ranked first while none of the students chose individual
majority of the students wanted to do three computer
tasks (47.62%). The second rank was two tasks
6. The top
three preferable computer tasks were 1) getting
information from WWW, 2) sending e-mail, and 3) playing
Whether the tasks should be graded is debatable because
56% wanted them to be graded while the rest did
not. If graded, the total score of the assigned
tasks should count as 20% of the total grade.
After this information was obtained, the tasks that can
combine language skills, academic and cognitive
abilities, computer literacy and self-actualization
needs of the students were investigated. There are
many activities that language teachers can employ in
their English classes. However, the selected tasks
reviewed below focus on Distance Education tasks since
these projects are geared towards self-directed learning
and correspond with the students’ needs, abilities and
interests. They are:
English Through Internet
Content-Based Approach to Internet Literacy
Regarding the first project, “The Cities Project”
has been designed for high intermediate/advanced English
level students. The writing requirement is
minimum, only one e-mail entry per week. In the
project, students work together within their class and
with students in other classes from cities around the
world. They explore different aspects of the
society in which they live and share the information
with their partners overseas. The students
communicate mainly via e-mail although collections of
artifacts from each city can be sent through snailmail.
Video and discussion on specific topics are
encouraged. At the end of the task, a final “cities”
project is presented by each group consisting of
students from each of the cities.
(1998:1) mentioned that the project could benefit the
students in the following aspects:
1. Students venture out and learn about their
2. Students learn about other places of interest,
which increases their interest in the interaction
between the classes.
3. Within structured writing options, students are free
to write on whatever interests them.
4. Students (studnets?) learn Internet
communication and researching skills and develop an
awareness of how they can benefit from using the
Internet in their lives.
second example, “English Through Internet,” is given
by Mofet Institute in Israel. It is a special
virtual course which aims to teach the Internet and at
the same time improve reading and writing skills.
The students have to complete assignments with different
partners or key pals. The course is divided into a
number of modules. Each module teaches a different
aspect of the Internet and practices reading and writing
skills at the same time. There are teaching notes
for each module and extra readings. The course is
a distance learning course which involves whole classes
who work with their teachers in the classroom and with
peers, instructors and mentors through the
last example, “The Content-Based Approach to Internet
Literacy,” is proposed by Ward and Karet (1996) who
suggest the use of the Internet to increase language
proficiency through the content-based approach.
According to this method, language learning is
contextualized and purposeful because the student uses
the language to pursue a specific goal and
simultaneously acquires the language. He can gain
mastery of the language
knowledge) as well as mastery of the subject
(declarative knowledge) at the same time. The
writers propose that the World Wide Web is an ideal
teaching tool for any academic discipline since it gives
opportunities for both procedural and declarative
learning. The WWW provides a lot of comprehensible
input while features of the Internet can facilitate and
afore-mentioned examples correspond with the results
from the questionnaire in that the students wanted to
get information from the WWW and send e-mail in their
preferable tasks. Although the Internet has
many advantages, there are some drawbacks. The
most serious one is its heavy traffic. An
Intranet, an alternative to the Internet seems to help
solve the problem. Weinstein (1996:50)
pointed out the difference between the Internet and an
Intranet, namely, “while the Internet is global
in scope, open to everyone with no regard to content, an
Intranet serves a well-defined and bounded user
community.” Similar to the Internet, an Intranet’s
main function is to read and display Hypertext Mark-up
Language (HTML) files created by the teacher and
student. E-mail and interactive programs are also
functions of some Intranets.
Weinstein has tried Intranet pedagogy at Brookside
School Upper Campus (Brooknet) and found many positive
feedback. For example, individual class home pages
|helped create a
sense of classroom community. The Intranet makes
it easier for teachers to share academic units,
projects, and curriculum ideas. Hot links to the
Internet make the teachers more efficient.
Besides, an Intranet allows for individualism and
creativity. Storing multimedia student portfolios
is also possible.
To make certain that the students can enhance their
language skills, cognitive and academic abilities,
Internet communication, as well as self-actualization
needs, the teacher needs to learn about the students’
computer background, language abilities, and their needs
and interests. To ensure the students’
responsibility and commitment to the tasks, the teacher
should use the information from the questionnaire to
provide a contract specifying desirable
objectives: what they will do and how they are
going to be evaluated. The students can
learn how to survive in the new millennium and
accomplish their individual goals in language learning
at the same time.
conclusion, Self-Directed Learning through the Internet
and Intranet Pedagogy may be an alternative for language
teachers who believe in the philosophy of self-directed
learning, language acquisition and application of IT in
language teaching because it offers choices in
objectives, rate, content and place of learning.
- Disick, R.
(1975). Individualizing Language
Instruction. New York:Harcourt Brace
- Frizler, K.
(firstname.lastname@example.org). (1997, October 16).
Starting a class in MOO. E-mail to email@example.com.
- Hess, A. (hessa@ACF2.NYU.EDU).
(1998, January 15). Connect your classes
online with the Cities Project. E-mail
- Sperling, D.
(1997). The Internet Guide for English
Language Teachers. New Jersy: Prentice Hall
- Ward, D. and Karet,
J. (1996). The Content-Based Approach to
Internet Literacy. Paper presented at the
Asia-Pacific World Wide Web Conference, August 23,
1996 in Beijing.
P. (1996). Intranets: Time for a Web of Your
Own. Technology and Learning, October,
Dr. Kanchana Prapphal is Professor at Chulalongkorn
University Language Institute (CULI). She received
a Bachelor of Arts with honors from Chulalongkorn
University and a Master of Arts in English as a Second
Language from the University of Hawaii where she studied
on an East-West Center Grant. She was awarded a
scholarship from Chulalongkorn University to study for a
Doctor of Philosophy in Education at the University of
New Mexico. She has been Director of CULI since
1996. Her main interests are language testing,
classroom-centered research and applications of IT in
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