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Using the World Wide Web as a resource in modernlanguage studiesGeoffrey Hare aa University of Newcastle upon TynePublished online: 06 Aug 2007.
To cite this article: Geoffrey Hare (1998) Using the World Wide Web as a resource in modern language studies, The LanguageLearning Journal, 18:1, 42-46, DOI: 10.1080/09571739885200241
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Language Learning Journal, December 1998, No 18, 42-46
Using the World Wide Web as a resource in modern language studies Geoffrey Hare University of Newcastle upon Tyne
The World Wide Web has attractions to language teachers as a new source of authentic materials. The article situates the use of Web sites in language learning within concepts of resource-based learning. Practical activities introduce a Web browser, a range of foreign language sites, and Information Gateways.
There are increasing numbers of sites available abroad that may be accessed from the UK
The World Wide Web has become the dominant platform for making information publicly available on the Intemet. It has attractions to language teach- ers as a new source of authentic materials - a resource that is likely to be attractive and motivat- ing for their more computer-literate students. There are increasing numbers of sites available abroad that may be accessed from the UK. The present article is a practical introduction to finding and using Web resources relevant to the student and teacher of modem languages.
Use of the web within the curriculum is consistent with recent thinking in resource based-learning, distance learning and learning technology (Entwistle 1992). Computer-based learning, while often recommended as one way to reduce instruc- tional costs in education, can also be allied to resource-based learning to improve the quality and effectiveness of learning. In the early days, com- puter-aided instruction was often used in the con- text of behaviourist views of learning, such as transfer of learning through drill and practice (Tuckey 1992). Evaluation of the recent TLTP pro- gramme suggested this may still be the norm in many university produced CALL materials (Coopers and Lybrand 1996). However, recent thinking about the nature of learning stresses the active role of the learner in acquiring knowledge and constructing personal understanding (Duffy and Jonassen 1992). Since constructivism implies that the teacher as learning facilitator can only
commence from the starting point of the individual student there has been a growing acceptance of stu- dent-centred learning and the use of resource based learning, as opposed to more traditional teacher- centred, didactic learning models. Resource-based learning does not necessarily have to be IT based, but can be delivered through learning technology (see the idea of intensely supportive learning envi- ronments: MacFarlane 1990). In particular the expanding power of HTML technology as used on the World Wide Web is being developed into the most user-friendly, human-computer interface and delivery mechanism for text, data, graphics, sound and video.
Resource-based learning sits comfortably within the overall communicative approach to the foreign language curriculum. The use of 'authentic' materials in the foreign language has been a key part of modem language teaching methods since the popularity of communicative approaches to language teaching since the 1970s (Bate and Hare 1986). Access to gen- uine information about a foreign culture and society, as made available to its own citizens, is also an important learning resource in its own right in a Languages or European Studies curriculum.
In terms of promoting more active learning, associated with deep learning, there have been calls for making experiential and independent learning more central to education (Knowles 1981). Improving the quality of learning, from merely reproducing information to the more active trans- forming of it to make personal meaning, is partly a function of the student's learning skills. A useful concept in this connection is 'self-regulated learn- ing', dependent on metacognitive awareness on the part of the learner. By metacognitive awareness is meant awareness on the part of the learner of how s/he learns and awareness of the purpose of a range
42 Language Learning Journal
USING THE WORLD WIDE WEB AS A RESOURCE IN MODERN LANGUAGE STUDIES
of different learning activities and skills s/he might engage in.
'In the constructivist paradigm, ... the role for new information technology is in encouraging mindful learning and transfer through promoting intrinsic motivation and supporting the develop- ment of metacognitive learning strategies.' (Tuckey 1992: 10)
Expanding the proportion of independent and resource-based learning in the curriculum, demands then, on the part of the learner, increased metacognitive awareness, and, on the part of the teacher, sensitivity to the learner's different needs. Development of effective resource-based learning therefore requires not only resources being made available but also a change of learning and teaching strategy. Any widespread use of Web resources within the French curriculum needs to take on board these two reciprocal needs and the two dis- tinct, yet linked audiences (teacher and learner). This article looks at one of these twin needs, that of access to new resources.
To facilitate access, a structured Information Gateway that included links to such authentic sites would be of obvious value to French students and teachers at all levels. One or two examples of such information gateways exist. Some general listings of French links are useful, but are constructed more with tourist or commercial needs rather than academic needs in mind (FranceLink Hot Links, FraneeWeb, Hapax, Les Carnets de Route, French Embassy in Washington links). A few University Departments have individual lists: University of Chicago, New York University Library, Liverpool University, Sheffield University Modem Language Teaching Centre, and our own list at the University of Newcastle. One or two individuals, like myself, have attempted to set up Information Gateways for French Studies, which, while being useful starting points, are often inevitably idiosyncratic and suffer from lack of resources - see in particular two useful American lists: Tennessee Bob's Famous French Links (Dr Robert Peckham) and Jack Kessler's FYI links. Further support to learners on the Internet: is avail- able on the Intemet Resources for Language Teachers list by the CTI Centre for Modern Languages (Hull), and Ohio University Teaching Resources. All the above references may be followed up on the Newcastle School of Modern Languages Home Page Links to Foreign Web Pages, address:
The activities below aim to introduce the range of resources available that are relevant to teachers and students of French, and in so doing to give complete beginners sufficient competence to allow them to become autonomous in 'surfing' the Web. It takes for granted that the user has a minimum of familiarity with a mouse and the Windows or Apple Mac screen conventions.
No 18 December 1998
Some schools and colleges already have an Internet connection and they can go straight to the practical activities below. Others may need further advice beyond the following rudimentary technical con- siderations.
Internet connections: First of all you need an Internet connection. If you are lucky enough to have a JANET connection (the Joint Academic Network owned by UK universities), this will enhance speed of access enormously, as compared to a simple modem connecting to telephone lines. If your establishment does not have a Server of its own, you will need to subscribe to a Service provider (about 15 per month) into which to tele- phone your connection. One of the best known providers is Compuserve. Some cable TV compa- nies are now starting to offer these services. For a review of Internet service providers see What PC? and software, April 1997 issue. The purchase of a modem often includes a free month's subscription to a Service provider.
Internet browsers: Then you will need a computer programme called a Browser. The two best known Browsers of the Web are: Netscape Navigator and Microsoft Internet Explorer. Your service provider will tell you how to acquire this software, almost certainly downloaded free of charge, since the two companies are vying with each other to gain market share. For the purposes of the activities below, we shall assume you are using Netscape Navigator to look at World Wide Web Pages. However, Microsoft Internet Explorer allows you to do very similar things, and you should be able to use the exercises without too much confusion.
PC specifications: Ideally, to run a browser effi- ciently, you need a PC with at least 8 MB of RAM (better 16 MB) and plenty of hard disk space free for temporary files and cache files. Remember too, access can be slowed down by the amount of traffic on the Net. In the UK, mornings are better than afternoons, since North American users are gener- ally still in bed, and so not using their networked machines.
WORLD WIDE WEB WORKSHEET
Using netscape navigator By working through these exercises, you will learn how to:
Find the Newcastle University Links to Foreign Web Pages. Use the following features of the Netscape Navigator programme: Mouse clicking between pages; Back and Forward Buttons in Toolbar to
"Development of effective resource-
based learning ... requires ... a
change of learning and teaching
"A single page may offer you many potential branches to follow though its Hypertext links"
move between pages; Scroll Bar to scroll down/up pages; Bookmark (adding and using) to quickly
find pages previously loaded; Go command, to go back directly to pages
that have been loaded earlier; Switch off Auto Load Images to improve
speed of loading pages of text; Recognise a Web address or URL (Uniform
Resource Locater). Navigate around Hypertext pages on Web sites
in general. Use the Newcastle Modem Languages Pages of
Foreign Language Links to find other sites world-wide.
Use other Informat ion Gateways, Virtual Libraries & Link Lists to find information.
Use a Search Engine for Key Word searches world-wide.
Interrogate a distant data base, such as a Library Catalogue.
Copy text from Web pages to your Word Processor.
Enjoy looking at foreign language pages on the Web.
HANDS-ON PRACTICE ACTIVITIES
1 Having logged in, load the Programme cal led NETSCAPE, by double-c l icking on it with the lef t-hand button of the mouse. When loaded, your local HOME PAGE will be on screen.
2 Leave the Home Page, and go to the Newcastle University S C H O O L O F M O D E R N L A N - G U A G E S H O M E PAGE. Use the mouse pointer, clicking on the 'address ' in the Location Bar, where the URL is shown - Web addresses always begin with http://www. Delete the existing address and type in the following, making sure the slashes lean the right way, the tilde is a tilde, and the colon is a colon etc., then press RETURN or ENTER: http://www.ncl.ac.u k/~nsml/
3 When the page has loaded, set up a B O O K - M A R K for the Newcast le SML Home Page by cl icking on the word Bookmarks in the Command Bar at the top of the screen, and then cl icking on ADD BOOKMARK. This will allow you to come back to this page in one click o f the mouse in the Bookmark Menu at a later stage. Open the Bookmark Menu again to see that the Bookmark has indeed been added: it should read: University of Newcastle School of Modern Languages
4 Scroll down the page as far as the DEGREE PROGRAMME HANDBOOK, (scroll ei ther by using the Page Down key on your key- board; or by c l icking the downward point ing arrow at the bottom of the scroll bar on the right hand side of the screen; or by dragging the square button down in the scroll-bar - you do this by pointing the cursor at it using the mouse and
then holding down the left-hand clicker on the mouse and dragging the mouse down the mouse-pad and then reieasing the click button.).
5 Practice opening Web pages: Open the DEGREE PROGRAMME HANDBOOK (by moving the cursor over the relevant text and, when the cursor arrow turns into a hand, by single clicking the left- hand mouse button). Pages on the W W W are nested or embedded behind each other in a tree structure. They are written in Hyper text Mark-up Language (HTML), and you move between them by click- ing on links. The links are usual ly indicated by underlined blue text (which turns pink once you have used them) and by the cursor taking on the shape of a hand. A single page may of...