Internet has been used by some language instructors in creative ways; one of creativity is the using of electronic mail (e-mail), as a specific feature of the Internet. E-mail is easy to use, even teachers those are not familiar with computers can quickly become adept in using e-mail with their students. In general, e-mail can encourage students to use computers in realistic, authentic situations in order to develop communicative and thinking skills. Although the Internet has been available to most people, only small amount of educators understand the potential of internet can provide in second and foreign language classrooms. The following short discussion will consider some of these potential advantages of using such technology in writing skill.
Using e-mail in a writing class can be conducted at any kind of network as long as workstations with e-mail software are readily available to the students. This could be in a lab, a campus network, or across the Internet. There are many reasons why using e-mail is advantageous for the students and teachers in the writing class.
At least, there are four advantages of using e-mail for students. First, by using e-mail in writing class, students become familiar with a communication tool that is important to their future need in the 21st century. A thing was once considered a fashion is now becoming a communication tool of many white collar workers in industrialized countries. In the world of business, education, politics, and technology, electronic mail is quickly taking the place of voice, paper, and fax communication. Employers will require this vital skill for their employees of today and tomorrow.
Second, students can use this feature to organize their writing instantly either by topic or by date created, or by name of sender. This kind of organizing helps the students focus more on the tasks of communicating and collaborating with peers and teachers. An added benefit to all this is that it can save natural resources by minimizing the use of expensive paper and toner.
Third advantage is that sometimes, more writing is actually completed when using e-mail. Electronic features on the screen are changeable, more temporary, and less permanent than traditional pen and pencil writing. Students frequently love to have an eraser help in writing. The reason is possible because they think that their writing has to be perfect the first time. They often don’t understand that writing can be a way of thinking; it can actually help them with ideas, with organization, and with their thought processes. Academic writing for instance, involves prewriting, planning, writing and revising draft, and writing the final copy to hand in. Not even the best writers get it right the first time. Since computer-generated writing is much more temporary and less permanent, their writing becomes less static and “final” since it is assumed more changeable, and thus the students learn to assume it as a process.
The last advantage for students is that shy students have a forum for expressing themselves and asking questions. Occasionally, some students who do not like to express themselves in a group tend to do better with writing. Since students usually generate more content electronically than with traditional pen-and-pencil methods, shy students often tend to express their opinions more openly without fear. This can give students self-confidence and improve their writing ability.
As the students get the advantages of using e-mail in writing, teachers also get some. First advantage is that a teacher can interact with a student or a group of students dealing with an assignment conveniently. In this case, the essential interaction and feedback that takes place between a teacher and student (or group of students) related to a writing task is not limited to the limitations of a classroom. Both teacher and student will do their work optimally.
Second, teacher will be able to electronically monitor individual or group writing process from early phase to the final draft. Usually, teachers often receive dozens of papers, assignments, and pieces of correspondence from their students each term. These pieces of paper often get organized on desk, in brief case, in filing cabinet, at home, in the office, in the classroom, and so on. This annoying work style will be eliminated by using e-mail. With the click of a mouse, modern e-mail software allows grouping of messages by student name, by date received, or by assignment classification. Writing assignments received can be organized electronically by any one of these categories. These types of groupings make it easier for the teacher to see the process which their students are using when writing. This process can be monitored and analyzed effectively and logically by the teacher who can also view and organize student or group work easily and efficiently. The teacher can quickly review students’ writing for future analysis and grading.
As the third, using e-mail can also save class time for some assignments. Teachers can send assignments and announcements electronically to the students. For example, if a teacher has to remind the students of a certain assignment due or a particular procedure, the teacher can send one message to entire class members. This can save valuable class time. Moreover, with the return receipt capabilities of e-mail the teacher is able to know whether each individual student has opened and read the message. This is an important feature to help monitor the progress of the student or the group.
In conclusion, by using e-mail, students and teachers become better problem solvers and better communicators. By using e-mail, students can begin to realize their full potential when they are trigged to deal such feature as a tool in completing their writing tasks more effectively. Students have the chance to collaborate and work together with other classmates, colleges, and teachers. On the other hand, by working electronically, teachers can help learners create, analyze, and produce information and ideas more easily and efficiently. In this case, teachers directly make their works easier in teaching and learning process.
Singhal, Meena. (1997). The Internet and Foreign Language Education: Benefits and Challenges. The Internet TESL Journal, III (6)
Belisle, Ron. (1996). E-mail Activities in the ESL Writing Class. The Internet TESL Journal, II,(12)
Oshima, A., & Houge, A., Writing Academic English. (3rd ed).
Yupi, March 8, 2011
Filed under: Education