Teacher's Guide to International Collaboration on the Internet

Modern/Second Language Project Examples

Young elementary girl in front of computerPerhaps no other area in the curriculum gets so much benefit from Internet based international collaboration in projects. The nature of second language learning differs from other subject areas in the sense that the projects are not limited to specific content areas. Rather, the projects need to be assessed and chosen according to the level of difficulty or complexity of language structures for the learners. Projects are not usually planned for ESL, but teachers can easily adapt them to their teaching objectives.

For the sake of providing a general framework, the table below shows the broad grammatical items and skills that learners need to be able to participate in projects. Although the examples are for ESL, the same framework applies for learners of Japanese, Spanish, French or any other second or third language.

You may take these language-acquisition projects to the various discussion groups working in specific languages. One place to bring project ideas, such as those below, to multi-lingual discussion groups is via Kidlink: http://www.kidlink.org/english/general/kidproj.html. iEARN also has projects in over 30 languages.

One excellent resource for language-teaching and interacting with others teaching specific languages is Virtual Language Center: http://www.linguanet.org.uk, sponsored by the National Centre for Languages (CILT). The website provides discussion forums for teachers/learners to bring project ideas and ask questions about second/foreign language teaching and learning. LanguagesICT http://www.languages-ict.org.uk/, another website from the CILT, provides a gateway to information and guidance for language teachers on integrating ICT into the classroom.

Internet ESL Project Examples Classified by Level of Language Proficiency

Level 1: Beginners

At the beginners level students are to be able to describe persons, animal and places using the simple present tense. They can narrate everyday activities and routines and communicate likes, dislikes, needs and preferences. They can also comprehend and give simple instructions. They can build or respond to surveys and write a simple report.

The Monster Exchange Project
Students try to communicate an original monster image into another child's mind using writing skills and technology. Each classroom is split into groups who then design original monster pictures. The original monster design is then described using learned writing skills and the descriptive writing process. The description is written knowing that the audience will be another student trying to draw the same monster just from reading the description. The partnered classes then exchange their descriptions via email and the WWW. These students are then challenged to use reading comprehension skills to read the descriptions and translate them into a monster picture that it describes. The true challenge involves getting a redrawn picture as close to the original picture as possible without looking at the original and only using the exchanged written description. The written descriptions, original monster pictures, and redrawn monster pictures are scanned and uploaded to the WWW using the browser based Monster Gallery Builder. The Monster Gallery Builder is entirely form based and does not require the teacher or student to know any HTML code.

  • Age Level: 5-10 years old
  • End Products for Students: Publication on website and printed publication that is sent to every participating school.
  • Timeline/Schedule: Ongoing, 3 months approximately. Depends on individual teacher.
  • Webpage: http://www.monsterexchange.org/
  • Contact: sign up on the web page.
  • Project Administrator Susy Calvert scalvert@access.k12.wv.us
  • Level of Technology Used: e-mail, newsgroups and WWW, chat
  • Category: Language Arts using technology.
  • Languages: English, but adaptable to any language.

Face of young girl drawn by a young childLevel 2: Pre-Intermediate Level

At this level students can describe and narrate using the past tense and the present perfect. They can also use the language of comparison. They can make future plans and talk about conditions and hypothesis using the conditional structures.

Folk Tales Project
The purpose is to study Global Community and Cultural Diversity through folk tales. Kids today know "Three little Piglets", "Sleeping Beauty" and "Cinderella". Unfortunately they know little about folk tales of their own country. And they know nothing about folk tales in other countries. Each classroom is split into groups. Groups read different folk tales from around the world. Students discuss the folk tales with the whole class. Students may e-mail their reactions to the folk tales and interact with other classes. Students decide which folk tales they would like to share with other classes in the world and write their stories. Students develop computer skills in word processing, image digitizing, and e-mail. A folk tale provides an opportunity to learn customs, traditions, beliefs, and views. Demonstrates students share their own culture: Yes Real Life Issues: Provides the teacher with an opportunity to share folk tales from 14 countries.

  • Age Level: 5-18 year old
  • End Products for Students: Publication on website and in print
  • Timeline/Schedule: Ongoing, involves about 3 months student work
  • Webpage: http://www.iearn.org/projects/folktales.html;
  • Contact: iearn@us.iearn.org
  • Level of Technology Used: e-mail and WWW-based discussion forums.
  • Supporting Organization: iEARN
  • Languages: Multilingual, and adaptable to any language

Level 3: Intermediate to Advanced Level

At the intermediate level students can read and write more complex pieces that include reporting what others said (interviews), use of passive constructions, and use of the conditional type three: "If I had known beforehand I could have prevented it."

A Vision
"A Vision" is an international literary magazine that publishes art, poetry, and prose created by secondary school students. Its purpose is to use art and the medium of creative writing to demonstrate that despite linguistic, cultural, ethnic and racial differences, teenagers around the world share the same hopes, fears, interests and concerns. This project has received an award from Columbia University for Best High School Publication in the United States two years in a row. Students develop computer skills such as word processing, image digitizing, and e-mail. While participating in the project they have a chance to demonstrate cross-cultural awareness, respect, and appreciation; they share their own culture. Teachers can adapt activities to their ESL needs.

  • Age Level: for 8-12 grade level
  • End Products for Students: Publication on website and printed publication that is sent to every participating organization.
  • Time of student involvement: Depends on individual teachers. Check the website for submission deadlines
  • Webpage: http://www.iearn.org/avision; http://www.iearn.org/projects/avision.html
  • Contact: iearn@us.iearn.org
  • Level of Technology Used: e-mail and web based forums.
  • Supporting Organization: iEARN
  • Languages: English and others

Level 4: Advanced Level

At this level students are able to read and write argumentative pieces, discuss book and movie reviews and write articles for school magazines. They can engage in advanced on-line argumentative discussions.

PEARL World Youth News
A student news service inspired by Daniel Pearl, the Wall Street Journal reporter who was murdered in Pakistan. Daniel Pearl used journalism and music to connect people of diverse backgrounds. His skills as a foreign correspondent and his commitment to promoting understanding have inspired this initiative.

In partnership with the Daniel Pearl Foundation, this initiative creates a unique international news service run by secondary school students from around the world. Adhering to the highest journalistic standards, participating students will select the issues to be reported, and write, edit and publish their articles on a web-based news service called PEARL World Youth News.

  • Ages: 14-19
  • End Products: Publication on the World Youth News Website.
  • Timeline/Schedule: Project starts in September. Check the website for schedule details.
  • Languages: English, news gathering in many languages
  • Contact: iearn@us.iearn.org
  • Supporting organization: iEARN

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Last Modified: 09/24/2009