The use of internet in EFL is not a new issue nowadays however, over the past few years it has developed in foreign language education, and it is gaining popularity in schools all over the world as teachers become more familiar with it and as they realize about the reasons why it should be introduced in the EFL instruction. Warschauter, Shetzer andMeloni (2000) claim that the internet has influenced a number of aspects in foreign language education, a clear example is that nowadays it is very common to complement education via on-line. Many teachers consider the internet as good learning and teaching tool since it offers authentic material available without having to travel to English speaking countries.
This paper will focus in thefollowing aspects: 1) the type of activities in which we can take advantage of the internet as a tool for foreign language teaching; 2) the benefits about using the internet in the EFL classroom; the challenges that will be faced using the internet; and 3) a research made in a school in Korea where it shows the results of using the internet in EFL.
There is a vast amount of activities which can beincorporated in the EFL instruction to improve the development of different skills such as reading, writing and listening. According to Nagel (1999) and Liao (1999), email conversations are very useful as a learning tool since students can hold conversations with people all over the world and people they have never met except on the internet; using email conversations allows students to express theiropinion and write freely.
It is known that chat rooms are very practical since they allow students to interact with native speakers in a real context and in real time. In addition to that, teachers can provide students with activities on-line where they expand their vocabulary knowledge as well as finding a series of material which can be useful to increase their knowledge about grammar by lookingfor certain grammar structures in a natural language such as articles or newspapers.
Students can access to web sites where they can do exercises on line, and as a result they improve their reading skills, they can web surf to find articles and share with the class interesting facts about a certain topic. We could continue mentioning a number of activities using the internet as a teaching tool,since Crystal (1997) notes that an estimated 85% of electronically stored information in the world is in English. So, there is a wide range of material available.
The internet offers numerous benefits and advantages about incorporating it in language courses. It has been proved that students who had the opportunity to write emails in pen pal friend programs have improved their writing fluencyand organization. Mike (1996) describes that the use of internet in EFL increases students’ higher thinking skills, because asking students to search for specific information on the web requires thinking skills; moreover, with all the process about searching on the web students practice reading skills and strategies. In addition to being a supplement for reading materials, when students explore websites they actually explore the real world.
The internet also provides auxiliary language activities where students can have additional practice in specific areas of language learning. Teachers can suggest specific sites which provide activities where students need reinforcement. It can be a useful tool for collaboration among EFL learners locally, nationally or globally. It can be used toacquire information from a large number of language resources for a variety of purposes (Daugherty & Funke 1998). Another advantage is that students can access information from countries in which the target language is spoken and as a result they learn about the culture of the target language and society.
Up to now, I have described some of the benefits about the use of internet and how it can...