Online Discussion Forums For use in Language Classes

Online Discussion Forums For use in Language Classes

Part 2 — Practice

Objectives — (S.W.B.A.T.) & Examples from the website

(From 2004 on…)

1. Register & Log in

Handout (Instructions for Inha Students)

2. Use an online discussion forum to practice English

3. Introduce themselves in comprehensible written English

4. Produce examples of structures covered in their text (Interchange 2)

*Example of target struc. (U.11-cy.1/simple past passive) found in book, periodical, or on website

*S-generated example (U.3-cy.2/wish)

(From 2006, maintained the above objecs. (Gram posts became optional) plus…

5. Communicate using S-generated topics (free-writing/focus on fluency/poll qs)

(Replies to the Intros turned out to be more motivating that g-posts)

Topics Ss came up w/

Interesting S-generated topic

Current Issue w/ Poll Question

Lighthearted Poll Q

(From 2007, same as 2006 + Focus on CULTURE-RELATED TOPICS)

6. Discuss any cultural topic of their choice (small “c” encouraged) in written English

Huge variety of motivating topics (Really Hard to Choose!)

Big “C”

Small “c”

Native Speaker Feedback (Focus Shifted)

Use of bold to recast select structural errors (no more than 1-2 per post initially)

Structural Feedback Examples

Feedback based on cultural content (Steering toward cultural content)

Ss able to discuss things they would probably not in class

Crisis of Faith

English and Korean swear words


Cool Functions

Info to Ss + Poll Q to gather data for lesson planning

Post Class Announcements, Oral Exam Sign-up Sheets, Assignments…etc.

Search for Ss, Contact long-lost Ss & (vice-versa)

Easy assessment–time-stamped posts

Easy access–can reply anywhere, anytime, would work with Ss from other countries

Two of our many success stories

Kim Yeonui (CUK Sophomore)

104 posts (only required to do 12 over 2 semesters)–even posted during vacations

Huge boost in proficiency and confidence in English

Became Pen-pals with (Sharon-Texas-writer) one of our native-speaker moderators and now they correspond by email regularly and exchange care/culture packages

Kwak Hye-young (CUK Soph/Junior)

50 posts (12 required over 2 semesters)

Deep topic threads — Great contributor

Thread w/ Sharon

Significant improvements in proficiency

Switched majors from business administration to English Language and Culture

Currently studying at a University in Wisconsin

A letter from Sharon regarding Hye-young:

September 28, 2007

Dear Jason and Jim,

I first met Kwak Hye-Young on the learn-english-grammar forum in December 2005, where I served as moderator. From the beginning, she appeared to be highly intelligent and eager to learn English. Her long-range goals were impressive, in wanting to pursue her education in the U.S., majoring in accounting or mathematics. It was apparent to me by her questions that she had a wide range of interests and a curiosity about many things. She displayed a good sense of humor, as well, when asking other students on the forum to comment on Jason’s changing appearance — which I found amusing. Hye-young sent me two beautiful Korean Christmas cards, one written in English, and I sent her a small gift from Texas. During the next few months, she showed great improvement in her English, writing at length with more adjectives and better grammar. She seemed very happy to be taking Practical English 2 and Intermediate Conversation with Jason to further improve her skills. Her interests varied from trying to understand the music of the Back Street Boys to her appreciation of the outdoors and plans for a little house with lilacs in the yard. Hye-young continued to bring new topics to the forum by asking if we, in other countries, celebrate children’s day and Buddha’s birthday. By mid 2006, she was still striving to improve her English, asking about the differences between British and American English, which is confusing to say the least. Jason recommended several books and summer enrollment in an English course. I was very impressed with the article she wrote for the forum on the Statue of Liberty, thoroughly researched, and written extremely well in almost perfect English. By the summer of 2006, she was reading Crime and Punishment. Just before her final exams, she told us of her plans to go to China. We lost touch for a while this year, as she was working and preparing for her English certificate. I was glad to hear that she is now settled in at Cardinal Stritch University in Milwaukee, likes her roommate, and the food (except it’s too oily, so she worries about gaining weight)! Tons of homework and lectures. I have no doubt she will do exceptionally well; she is certainly proficient in English and should have no problem at all in that respect. I have a great deal of admiration for this enthusiastic, friendly, and highly motivated young lady.



Positive Teacher Feedback (S.F. & Germany)

Plans/Aspirations for the future

-More International users (

-Connect with classes in different cultures for multicultural discussions

-More spontaneous use

-Better and more constant language feedback for Ss from a variety of sources

(20 cents a reply BTW (^_^) — double the going rate)

We are constantly finding new uses and cooler applications of functions. Any ideas?

Q & A — Suggestions — Ideas — Audience FB

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