Strength for Today and Bright Hope for Tomorrow

Volume 8 : 12 December 2008
ISSN 1930-2940

Managing Editor: M. S. Thirumalai, Ph.D.
Editors: B. Mallikarjun, Ph.D.
         Sam Mohanlal, Ph.D.
         B. A. Sharada, Ph.D.
         A. R. Fatihi, Ph.D.
         Lakhan Gusain, Ph.D.
         K. Karunakaran, Ph.D.
         Jennifer Marie Bayer, Ph.D.



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Internet-Based Projects for Language Learning -
A Student-Centered Approach

Gurleen Ahluwalia, M.A.


This article presents a student-centered approach of teaching English by making use of internet based projects. Whereas many educators enthusiastically embrace the use of Internet-based reading materials, little theoretical and empirical research exists that demonstrates how to make use of such practices in a sound pedagogical way. This article provides guidance to teachers and curriculum developers to integrating Internet-based reading materials into a language learning class. Based on concrete sample lessons, this article also describes the strengths of this approach from a pedagogical, technological and designer's point of view.


Learner-determined lessons follow an approach to integrate Internet-based resources that are entirely learner-centered. As seen from the examples in the section below titled Samples of Learner-Determined Projects, the learners determine the topics, reading materials, and the way they go about exploring the readings themselves. They decide on the process and the product, formulate the goals, identify Internet-based resources, and make a decision on how the outcomes should be evaluated. In this way, the students take on the roles of self-directed and autonomous learners, and take full charge and responsibility for their outcomes.

The teacher only gets involved in the role of a facilitator offering support and guidance throughout the process as much as necessary. Types of assessment may include teacher-, self-, or group-assessment.

Assessment of learner outcomes may be teacher-directed or student-determined. Examples are short writing assignments, essays, or mini-projects or presentations that show the students' analytical and interpretative skills of cultural readings and texts. Students may also document the process and stages of their projects through diaries or maintaining a portfolio.

Some Pre-requisites

Learner-determined projects are better done only where good to excellent connectivity is available. Perseverance and motivation are very important both for the students and teachers. As most of these projects may involve only writing as of now, focus is on reading and writing, and broader skills of communication through these two skills. So, it is necessary that the teachers continue to emphasize and get their students involved in face-to-face interaction in their classrooms. Along with the skills relating to the use of computers and the Internet, quick referencing skill to use a dictionary, especially to identify the correct grammatical usage of the term/s and phrases must also be developed. Perhaps, as high speed internet is available, students may be first introduced to the sites that offer dictionary meanings for terms, phrases, idioms, etc. For example, a website such as would help in this regard. I'd also suggest that websites that deal with grammatical usage also be introduced to the students as help with their learner-centered learning of English.

I do recognize that these facilities are not readily available in most schools in India, but there are many schools in metropolitan cities of India which do have these facilities. In addition, the engineering colleges that have sprung up all over the country would greatly benefit by this approach as their connectivity is much better, comparatively speaking. I'd also highly commend this approach to the students of medical colleges as well in India.

The Internet-based Projects of Learning

Internet-based projects can be carried out intensively over a short period of time or extended over a few weeks. Generally speaking, this approach of integrating Internet-based materials lends itself to long-term assignments with intermediate and advanced language learners in the target language.

This approach is based on the theory of project-based learning. Its benefits have been described at various places. For example, Stoller (1997) summarizes some of the pedagogical advantages in the following way:

1) Project work focuses on content learning rather than on specific language targets. Real-world subject matter and topics of interest to students can become central to projects.

2) Project work is student-centered, though the teacher plays a major role in offering support and guidance throughout the process.

3) Project work is cooperative rather than competitive. Students can work on their own, in small groups, or as a class to complete a project, sharing resources, ideas, and expertise along the way.

4) Project work leads to the authentic integration of skills and processing of information from varied sources, mirroring real-life tasks.

5) Project work culminates in an end product (e.g., an oral presentation, a poster session, a bulletin board display, a report, or a stage performance) that can be shared with others, giving the project a real purpose. The value of the project, however, lies not just in the final product but also in the process of working towards the end point. Thus, project work has both a process and product orientation, and provides students with opportunities to focus on fluency and accuracy at different project-work stages.

6) Project work is potentially motivating, stimulating, empowering, and challenging. It usually results in building student confidence, self-esteem, and autonomy as well as improving students' language skills, content learning, and cognitive abilities.

Project-oriented Work

Project-oriented work embraces principles of learning that are promoted by various theories, approaches, and philosophies of learning. For example, project learning is in accordance with the principles of communicative language learning (Omaggio-Hadley, 2001).

Students apply their knowledge in real-life situations by exploring authentic materials. The learning activities resemble real-world tasks. The students strive for an end product, whose goal they accomplish by collaborating with their peers in order to ultimately share what they have achieved with others.

Project-oriented work also lies at the heart of autonomy in language learning. As Holec (1981) claims, autonomy is the "ability to take charge of one's learning" which is a skill" to be acquired by 'natural' means or in a systematic, deliberate way."

According to Holec, learners alone are responsible for deciding what is to be learned, when, how, in what order, and by what means. It is also their responsibility to set their own goals and measure the degree to which they have been effective in attaining them. In other words, a project-oriented approach provides the passage towards these goals. The students learn about the decision-making process about topics and content, about learning and the management of it (Legutke & Thomas, 1991).


Evaluation of English-Manipuri Bilingual Dictionaries | Internet Projects of Language Learning - A Student-Centered Approach | Skype Voice Chat - A Tool for Teaching Oral Communication | Noun Classification System in Mizo | How Authority and Leadership Evolve - A Study of Leadership Functions and Authority in the New Testament Community | Trends and Spatial Patterns of Crime in India - A Case Study of a District in India | Problems of Visually Challenged With Special Reference to School Children in Coimbatore District, Tamilnadu | Tenor in Electronic Media Political Discourse in BBC News - A Functional Analysis of English-Arabic Translation | Materials Development in English as a Second language in India - A Survey of Issues and Some Developments at the National Level | An Eyewitness Account of the Third Indian National Congress in 1887 at Madras - Excerpts from Dr. Henry Lunn's Book A Friend of Missions in India | HOME PAGE of December 2008 Issue | HOME PAGE | CONTACT EDITOR

Gurleen Ahluwalia, M.A.
Department of Applied Sciences
BBSB Engineering College
Fatehgarh Sahib
Punjab 140407

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