The Internet and the Language Classroom: A Practical Guide for Teachers

Gavin Dudeney, Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2007. Pp. v. + 171.

Reviewed by Ko-Yin Sung
The University of Texas at San Antonio
Texas, U.S.A.

Gavin Dudeney s The Internet and the Language Classroom: A Practical Guide for Teachers is a resource book that provides English as a second language instructors valuable activities ranging from novice to advanced levels and introduces novice Internet teacher-readers to online tools for the development of online classroom projects.
The book is divided into five chapters. Chapter 1 provides readers with the basic knowledge and skills required to use the Internet. First, the author explains basic Internet-related terms such as a modem, service provider, homepage, and link. Next, Dudeney uses computer screen shots to aid his explanations and walk his readers through the processes of using the Internet, email, and search engines. FAQs on Internet, email, and searches are also included in this chapter to help troubleshoot possible problems readers may encounter in their first-time hands-on experience. Chapter 2, which comprises almost half of the book, consists of 55 practical Internet-related activities that teachers can adapt to their classrooms, each of which is sorted by level and theme. Levels include young learners, elementary, lower-intermediate, mid-intermediate, upper-intermediate, advanced, and business English, and themes range from entertaining topics such as shopping and celebrations to ones that require critical thinking such as world problems and news. At the beginning of each activity, the author lists the aim, focus, level, time required, and requisite website address(es) needed to carry out the activity. The directions for each activity are then detailed in the procedure section and alternative activities are suggested in the follow-on section. Many of the activities are also accompanied by sample worksheets that are readily adaptable. In Chapter 3, the author introduces a variety of Internet tools teachers can use to promote learning through collaborations with students in other parts of the world to include email changes, discussion lists, webquests, blogs, wikis, online groups, and chat. The author states the purpose of each tool and provides existing online examples to demonstrate how each can be applied in classroom projects. The last section of chapter 3 is devoted to the discussion of student publication on the Internet. The author lists several places students can post their work online and shows readers basic ideas for online publishing projects. Chapter 4 is a short chapter that informs teachers how to advance themselves both professionally and technologically in the vein of using the Internet in the classroom. The author discusses the advantages and disadvantages of joining listserves and lists links to sites, blogs, and groups that contain teacher development resources. The last chapter, chapter 5, lists an assortment of websites where students can publish their work, those that offer free-web-based email, and others that provide teaching ideas.
Readers who compare this edition to the first edition published in 2000 will find that this one includes many newly developed Internet tools such as blogs and wikis which help update readers technical knowledge, yet 55 activities introduced in the first edition remain unchanged. Readers may also notice another shortcoming in that while the activities are high quality and cover a wide variety of topics, the majority of them do not sufficiently emphasize the diversity of English learners cultures and only focus on the Western culture. Nonetheless, readers will find that the book uses easy-to-understand language to explain technical jargon and concepts and provides screen shots and figures to demonstrate the functions of websites and software, creating a reader-friendly guide that assists first-time Internet teacher-users to overcome their fear about incorporating the Internet into their classrooms.
Despite the lack of a cultural component in many of the activities provided, Dudeney s The Internet and the Language Classroom: A Practical Guide for Teachers is a highly recommended book that is valuable when teachers need additional activity ideas or need a jargon-free tool book to help their online classroom projects get started.