The Internet as Teacher?s Aide Throughout the ITTT course, the main


Throughout the ITTT course, the main suggestion for finding supplemental materials is to search through the school's resource library. There are obvious benefits to this: the staff may be able to direct you easily to what you are looking for, the materials can easily be photocopied (if that is an option), and the materials can be chosen as the need arises during the class. However, there is a whole other world of materials available on-line as well. While there are many places where Internet access is impossible, the teacher will probably be aware of this before arriving and could do some preparation and bring ideas and materials with them. For an isolated school, the teacher can also then cheaply and easily provide the resource library with new and updated activities, worksheets and reading material that can benefit the school beyond the teacher's time there.

For a new teacher, walking into a classroom and realizing that the students are now depending on you and there's no one else in the room for you to turn to may be stunning. The goal of this research paper was to search for a safety net of inspiration or a virtual assistant, mentor and guide. Using just basic search terms in Google (EFL teaching aids, TESOL help, Free TESOL teaching aids, etc.), it is very easy to see that there is no shortage of ideas and assistance available. If no one is available to suggest a good website, these general search terms lead you easily to websites that list their favorites. The benefit with these websites is that they usually provide a brief description of what is available on the links, making it easy to choose what is needed. Using more defined search terms (TESOL teaching aids monolingual classes, EFL present tense teaching aids, etc.) produced more academic and government sponsored websites. While these may be interesting for considering teaching theoretically, they did not seem to provide practical advice, materials or ideas. Again, the suggestion here is to use a general search heading and scan websites for the desired material. Another benefit to this is that something else may jump out that can help another lesson or activity (in other words, you never know what you'll find!).

More defined searches can come in handy for problem solving particular learning difficulties. For example, understanding why Asian speakers have problems distinguishing between l and r can help a teacher work with Asian students more effectively. A defined search for teaching English to Asian students takes a bit more time and effort to weed through the various offers to teach and find actual information, research or advice. Most commonly found are web blogs or discussion groups for teachers and personal reports from students asking about or describing their difficulties. If a teacher is unfamiliar with a teaching post, it would be wise to spend a bit of time on line with sites like these before leaving to see what issues might arise.

One of the best aspects of researching the Internet for teaching ideas is that there is no reason to have to stick to an out- of-date course book. The English language may not have changed and the job of teaching the technical side of language may be accomplished with such a book, but the opportunity to really reveal what doors the language can open would be wasted. Since students rarely learn another language just for the exercise of it, their reasons for wanting to learn English should be explored and allowed to come into the lesson plans. The Internet is a good and cost- effective way to this and shouldn't be overlooked as a teaching tool.

Sources:

--http://www.tesol.net/teslmat.html (A list of teaching materials links submitted by individuals with brief descriptions of content.)

--http://esl.about.com/ (About.com's resource on teaching English as a second language.)

--http://www.teflgames.com/index.html (Provides a link for free games to download and print.)

--http://www.esl-galaxy.com/index.htm ('Free ESL Resources for Teachers & Students.')

--http://www.jason-ism.com/reasonforthisproject.html (Quirky website that has some creative teaching ideas and general teaching guidance by a traveling teacher.)

--http://www.letslets.com/teach_english.htm (Provides songs on-line with worksheets (fill-in-the-blank). Can also purchase songs.)

(These sources were found using general TESOL/EFL teaching aid search terms. They are just a representation of what I feel I would look for'some creative ideas that are either easily adaptable or ready to print and use. The point of the research, however, was not to provide a list of good sites, but to provide some ideas of how to use the Internet when you don't have a list of good sites.)