Michael Lesser's IBLI Site

This site was designed specifically for a web based course I took while enrolled in the Master of Applied Linguistics at the University of Southern Queensland (USQ), in Toowoomba, Queensland, Australia, called Internet Based Language Instruction (LIN8016; IBLI). This is a continuation of Computer Assisted Language Learning (LIN8006; CALL). The section instructor is Dr. Son Jeong-Bae, from Masan, South Korea and Australia.

There are some links, which can be viewed on the left hand side of the page. Enjoy reading the various items that are included in my portfolio.


This section of the website discusses certain aspects of computer-mediated communication (CMC) particularly how it relates to language education. CMC’s potential in the language classroom has been known, discussed, and researched since the 1980s (Warschauer, 2001, as cited in Cummings, 1986). CMC is discussion and interaction between two or more people via computer supported media. This can take place in e-mail, video, audio and written chat [instant messaging], through interactive video games, discussion boards, list servers, wikis, blogs (weblogs), and multi-player video games, to mention but a few. Resourceful and innovative language educators can augment the learning environment by utilizing any or many of these varieties of CMC. The use of CMC can greatly help language learners become familiar with people who are speaking the target language with an accent, and who are L2 language users themselves.

For purposes of business, L2 language use in the international community is English. Over eighty-five percent of people who speak English in the world speak it as a second or other language (Hadley, 2001); therefore, it is important for people dealing with a foreign client to be able to understand what they are saying, and to be able to understand their traditions, customs, and cultures. Learning a language and culture go hand in hand (Cameron, 1998).

In addition, around the world, North American, and then the U.K. accents are the ones held with the highest regard amongst learners of English. After that, the other native English accents, such as Australian, New Zealand, Irish, and South African, are sought after. There are many people who speak English like a native speaker but who are not from European descent, for example, the Philippines, Singapore, South Pacific West Indies, Belize, Guyana, South Asia (India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh), and some African nations. These forms of English are usually overlooked and not sought after by learners of English. These two points need to be critically thought through by educators and learners. Firstly, when a person from Taiwan is conducting business over the phone with a person from Indonesia, it not does matter whether or not the accent is American. The immediate necessity is to be clearly understood. In most cases, these two people would have a Taiwanese and Indonesian accent anyhow. Secondly, it is not difficult to understand why accents from non Caucasian English countries are not sought after. They are not the accents of where the money is, and they are not the accents glorified by Hollywood and British television and film. There are also historically developed dominance and colonial issues that occurred as well. For the past 300 years, the world’s super-powers, Britain and America, have been speaking English. Parents spend thousands of dollars seeking out white native speakers of English to teach their children, and send their children overseas to study English, when they can do it cheaply by sending them to Manila or Fuji to study English. In addition, there are thousands of qualified English teachers from India and Belize who can teach these students, but schools would rather hire an underqualified white person to do an inadequate job of teaching English.

Moreover, people listen twice as much as they speak and five times as much as they read and write (Hadley, 2001). Listening skills are used more than the other skills, even though reading and writing are emphasised in traditional classrooms, and learners are always encouraged to engage with their classmates and native speakers in order to practice their speaking. It is time to take into account these facts and devise new ways for learners to train their listening skills. Students need to think of what they will be using English for, beyond the L2 classroom (Brecht & Walton, 1995).

In Taiwan and other countries where people speak English as an L2, mistakes are made over the phone when shipping and receiving orders (Pan & Lesser, personal communication, September, 2006). Moreover, sometimes business trips need to be made so that face-to-face communication can take place because they cannot understand what is being uttered over the phone. These business trips prove to be costly from a financial and time-management point of view. These mistakes can be avoided if learners can become familiar with accents from other countries.

CMC can bridge the gap between learners of English; accents and culture can become learnt. Teachers can collaborate with their contemporaries in different countries to establish some instant messaging sessions between their students, using software such as Skype, Yahoo! Messenger, or Windows Live Messenger (Mynard, 2002). Skype is an excellent freeware, downloadable from the Internet. When users are Skype members, they freely can leave voicemail messages instead of e-mails, they can write in a chat box with their ‘key-pal’, they can make video and audio calls, and even Skypecasts, where up to 100 people can converse with each other at the same time. If users pay a small fee, they can make connections from computers to phones, and send SMS to cellular phones anywhere in the world. However, if the Skype user makes a call to a local number, then it can be expensive, as Skype charges per minute; some times on a regular phone, local calls are free. In addition, Skype is sometimes banned from schools because of supernods in Skype, which has to do with control of bandwidth, something that more remote schools do not have a lot of. L2 learners can share their culture with their new friend, as well as train their ear to this new accent, for example, a Gambian and a Spanish conversing over how people greet each other in their respective countries.

Yahoo! messenger, with many of the same capabilities as Skype, is another good choice for students to have audio and video conversations with their colleagues. These L2 learners can enter chat rooms, where they can discuss and interact with people of simular interests. On the other hand, teachers need to be careful with their students when within chat rooms, because of online security issues. Chat rooms are often frequented by unfavourable characters, so students need to know how to identify these kinds of bad elements on the net. Teachers should also teach manners, ethics of the Internet (Rooksby, 2002). Windows Live Messenger and Yahoo messenger users can chat with each other, something called interoperability. This greatly adds to the number of L2 learners who can instant message with each other.

Motivation and attitudes also increase when instant messages and other CMC is used (Hadley, 2001, & Mills, 2000). Students not only learn new and intriguing accents, but they also increase their desire to learn a new L2, visit that country, and even participate in class. These learners also increase their imaginative and creative writing styles, and become more proficient in grammar and newly acquired vocabulary (Hadley, 2001). Many L2 students who do not use CMC instant messaging tools are often reluctant to talk to their native L2 teachers and other speakers, but through instant messaging, they can create aliases and thus interact with non-natives and natives alike. A good teacher may also want to enter the chat, so students can interact on a less formal level with them. After using CMC, L2 students are more likely to interact in face-to-face meetings with native speakers (Hadley, 2001, & Meunier, 1998).

These same students, through CMC, should also be able teach the teacher a thing or two about CMC, as younger generations are much more well versed in technology and the world of the Internet (Lepeintre & Warschauer, 1997). Furthermore, gender issues can be resolved through instant messaging (Meunier, 1998). Female students who are somewhat shy and reluctant to speak out in a class full of dominating and bullying men now have the chance to communicate with some friendlier students overseas, so not only are they receiving an opportunity to participate, but they are also learning new accents and culture. This example can increase their motivation (Czikio & Park, 2003, as cited in Wong & Fauverge, 1999). Tests conducted prove that students have increased motivation when learning an L2 through CMC (Blake, 2000).

L2 students rarely rush to an open book to read what is on that page, but they will rush to the screen if they see that they have a new E-mail, or instant message (Deutsch, N.D., as cited in Milliron, 2004). This needs to be explored by an L2 teacher. Short online stories about different countries can be exchanged between teachers and students, both of whom are on different continents. Japanese students can read about the Yemeni Day of National Unity, held on May 22, in English, while their friends in Yemen can read about Samurai warriors, in English. L2 learners of English can also exchange music, a means that transcends language and culture.

Diverse access levels to technology, mainly relating to cost, has kept CMC out of the language class. Some schools simply do not have the budget to buy computers and other technology that allows for CMC in the classroom. Additionally, there is a lack of skilled teachers. Many language teachers are not provided with the opportunity of professional development in CMC. Moreover, there are diverse regulations online in the CMC environment. Many schools ban instant messaging, so administration needs to change their way of thinking regarding CMC in language labs. Finally, online moderation is a separate skill. It can be a challenge for a teacher in Singapore to control what their student’s ‘key pals’ write in Dubai. It is at best, only hoped that these students will keep on topic.

To conclude, students from around the world are learning English, the L2 of the business and international community. Since eighty-five percent of English speakers are non-native speakers, they need to learn how to listen to people with very different accents. This can be accomplished through CMC, and more specifically, instant messaging, which includes audio and video chatting. L2 students can overcome linguistic and cultural barriers through instant messaging. They can increase their attitudes and motivation towards learning an L2 as well, through CMC. Rather than students going to the teacher in his or her office, a very daunting experience for shy learners, they can go online to ask their new ‘key-pals’ or other teachers these questions, via CMC’s various tools (EVC connects teachers and learners online, N.D.). CMC technology is growing day by day, and this means language learning capability must be crafted and mastered by the L2 teacher. It has been known since the 1980s that CMC has great potential in the L2 classroom. The time is now for L2 teachers to start using this technology for their language students.

Reference list

Blake, R. (2000) Computer mediated communication: A window on L2 Spanish interlanguage. Language learning & technology 4(1), 120-136. Retrieved 10 October, 2006.

Brecht, R., & Walton, A. (1995). The future shape of language learning in the new world of global communication: Consequences for higher education and beyond. In R. Donato & R. Terry (Eds.), Foreign language learning. New York: National textbook Company.

Cameron, K. (1998). CALL, culture and the language curriculum: An important issue? In L. Calvi & W. Geerts (Eds.), CALL, culture and the language curriculum. London: Springer-Verlag London Limited.

Cziko, G.A. & Park., S.J. (2003) Internet audio communication for second language learning: A comparative of six programs. Language Learning & Technology 7(1), 15-27. Retrieved 10 October, 2006.

Deutsch, N. (N.D.) Distance learning literature review. Retrieved 10 October, 2006.

EVC connects teachers and learners online. (N.D.) Retrieved 10 October, 2006.

Hadley, A.O. (2001). Teaching language in context (3rd Ed.). Boston, MA: Thomson Heinle.

R. Lepeintre, S. & Warschauer, M. (1997). Freire’s dream or Foucault’s nightmare? Teacher-student relations on an international computer network. In R. Debski, J. Gassan, & M. Smith (Eds.), Language Learning Through Social Computing 16, 67-90.

Mills, D. (2000). Enthusiasm, experience, and collaboration: Technology in the DEIL/IEI. In E. Hanson-Smith (Ed.), Technology-enhanced learning environments. Virginia: TESOL Inc.

Meunie, L. (1998). Personality and motivation factors in computer-mediated foreign language communication (CMFLC). In J. Muyskens (Ed.), New Ways of Learning and Teaching: Focus on Technology and Foreign Language Education, 145-198.

Mynard, M. J. (2002) Introducing EFL students to chat rooms. The Internet TESL Journal VIII(2). Retrieved 10 October, 2006.

Rooksby, E. (2002). E-mail and ethics: Style and ethical relations in computer-mediated communication. London: Routledge.

Warschauer, M. (2001) Online communication. In R. carte & D. Nunan (Eds.), The Cambridge guide to teaching English to speakers of other languages. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Retrieved 10 October, 2006.

IBLI Lesson Plan

Upper advanced reading and writing English language class. Monday, 1:15-2:00PM

Class size: 15 university students.

Objectives: students learn how to scan for details, skim for main points, take notes with a guiding framework, construct a critical argument, and post findings on the discussion board.
Materials: Vocabulary words and definitions, an article from ScrippsNews, 10 questions.

Warm -up

**Write as much as you can in 10 minutes on the topic of terrorism and the post-9/11 world (10 minutes).

Main Activities

**Read the article at Scripps News from the net The cost of Iraq war is out of control three times, silently (5-7 minutes).

**Listen to the teacher’s version two times (5-7 minutes).

**Scan for key points and ideas (5-7 minutes).

**Go to Dave's ESL Cafe's Student Discussion Forums

**Post questions and findings on this article; answer teacher’s questions (20 minutes).


**Read the comments on our class’ findings, and for homework, print comments for next class to discuss, "The cost of the Iraq war is out of control."

Comentary Editorial Tuesday, October 17, 2006

When it comes to casualties in the war in Iraq, no one can put a price on human life. But the cost in taxpayer dollars of U.S. military operations there continues to rise to gargantuan proportions.
According to the Congressional Research Service, Congress already has appropriated $437 billion for war, not including $70 billion approved by the Senate as part of next year's record-breaking Pentagon budget. That's half a trillion dollars _ about three-quarters of it for Iraq, 20 percent for Afghanistan and 5 percent for increased security against terrorism at other foreign bases.

The fighting in Afghanistan, home of the Taliban and training ground of the 9/11 terrorists, is one thing. But an increasing number of Americans see Iraq as a war we can no longer afford. Either way, the fiscal burden will be felt for generations because the cost is being applied daily to the nation's budget deficit.

More than 2,700 American soldiers have lost their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan, and some 20,000 others have been wounded. We would not presume to trivialize their sacrifice by placing a dollar value on the mayhem, but how many more lives may be put in jeopardy when the growing cost of the Iraq war crowds out spending for, say, a new cancer drug?

These are the real costs that will multiply under an administration that has the nation stuck in an open-ended commitment, with no thought to the long-range consequences. And these costs will continue to grow until the American people decide they've had enough.
Source: Scrippsnews

Scan for the following key words while reading, and highlight the words once found. Then ask a partner what these words mean to him or her.

Key words and possible answers

(this is an answer sheet for teachers. Students will only receive the vocabulary, and they will have to write their own definition of the words, according to the teacher's explanations and context of the reading).

1. Iraq-noun
A republic in SW Asia, N of Saudi Arabia and W of Iran, centering in the Tigris-Euphrates basin of Mesopotamia.

2. Gargantuan–adjective
Gigantic; enormous; colossal: a gargantuan task.

3. Congress-noun
The national legislative body of the U.S., consisting of the Senate, or upper house, and the House of Representatives, or lower house, as a continuous institution.

4. Congressional-adjective
The national legislative body of the United States, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives.

5. Terrorism-noun
The use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce, esp. for political purposes.

6. Trivialize-verb used with object
To make trivial; cause to appear unimportant, trifling, etc.

7. Afghanistan-noun
A republic in Central Asia, NW of India and E of Iran. 23,738,085; 250,000 sq. mi. (647,500 sq. km). Capital: Kabul.

8. Taliban-noun
A Muslim fundamentalist group in Afghanistan.

9. Senate-noun
The upper house of the legislature of certain countries, as the United States, France, Italy, Canada, Ireland, Republic of South Africa, Australia, and some Latin American countries.

10. open ended-noun
Not having fixed limits; unrestricted; broad: an open-ended discussion.

10 Questions
(These questions are meant to engage you in the controversies of the War on Terror. Please include criticisms and comments in your answers. Write about 5 sentences, minimum, for each question. Post these on the discussion board.

1) How much money will the American government spend on the War on Terror next year?

2) How many soldiers have lost their lives in the war?

3) How many soldiers have been wounded?

4) How does this writer feel about the War on Terror?

5) How do you feel about the War on Terror?

6) Was invading the Middle East a good idea?

7) Who was responsible for 9/11 and why?

8) What are your opinions of Bush and Bin-Laden?

9) Why did the West invade the Middle East?

10) How has oil played a role in the War on Terror?


Resources posted 16 October, 2006. If any links are dead, please contact me at elsmichael@gmail.com


This is an annotated list of useful Web sites for language teacher development (brief descriptions of at least five Web sites with titles, hyper-linked URLs and key reasons for my choosing these websites or creation of content)

Dave’s ESL Café
I have been using this site since I entered the field of TESOL in 1997. It has thus far been the easiest site to navigate and provides helpful and practical information. This site can give teachers access to jobs, schools to work at and study in, an ideas section, a forum for teachers with no prior knowledge or for teachers who have been teaching for a long time. The site can also suggest possible schools around the world where teachers can hone their skills. It is a site I would recommend for any teacher in the TESOL field.

Fred Shannon’s Blog
Fred Shannon, coincidentally a former student of the University of Southern Queensland (USQ), provides several academic papers that discuss current trends in the field of TESOL, issues at large in the English teaching field, and topics of interest for expatriates living in Asia. Such topics include academia, the opening of new language schools in Asia, reviews of CELTA schools in Thailand, and the treatment of migrant workers in Taiwan. He responds very quickly to emails, which should help any teachers in need of suggestions.

Hall Houston’s Random ESL Idea Generator
When I am in need of some new and invigorating ideas, I will check out this site. It is very viewer friendly, provides me with many ideas for lessons, and is a great source of information for the novice as well as the advanced language teacher. Great for those days when even us seasoned vets run out of ideas. He provides simple instructions on how to make your lesson much more interesting.

Internet TESL Journal
This site provides teachers with comprehensive information on teaching techniques, lesson plans, links to other great sites (such as humor, business English, and songs), and conversation questions for the ESL teacher.

ESL Teachers Board
This site provides information for ESL students and teachers, as well as information about ESL schools. From lesson plan information, how to find a school or even buy a school, to finding 'key pals' for students is listed in this site. There is also a very extensive forum where teachers can discuss their pedagogic issues.

Randall’s ESL Cyber Listening Lab
This site provides teachers with great sources for quizzes, lesson plans, audio and video options, as well as links to other ESL sites. For example, the dating and marriage section provides provocative and lively topics of interest for any junior high or above ESL class. It is a must for any and all ESL teachers.

Technology Tips of the Month
This site can aid any Internet based language instruction or computer assisted language learning (IBLI/CALL) teacher, from the novice to the expert. This site provides details about software, email, web searches, about the web, group discussion/conferencing and class projects, content based instruction, skill areas, and other topics (using screenshots, mailing lists, for example). It is very user-friendly, without technological distractions, and it is very simple to navigate.

Web-based language learning activities

Education with Student News
It is important to keep people and especially language learners up to date with the news, current events, and cultural aspects of the language they are learning, as well as news as a whole. This is why this site was chosen for students. This site includes news items related to schools, education, and international issues, with various articles in print form (reading skills) and on video (listening). This site also has links to education news, CNN presents the classroom, ten questions and news quizzes, quick guides and transcripts, as well as learning activities. The ten questions link asks students questions about the story they have just played, which helps students in comprehension, oral or written skills (depending on the choice of the teacher and/or learner). With transcripts, students can become journalists, and create enactments of the news for that day, in the form of role-play. This incorporates reading, listening, and oral skills.

PBS Kids
This site is one I would definitely use in any Asian EFL classroom, or anywhere else in the world. Younger and older students will enjoy learning languages with this amusing site. This site provides interactive online game links, where students have to find items, solve a puzzle, and complete a task. They can learn new vocabulary, through honing in on their listening and reading skills. There is also a section which quizzes students’ knowledge about the area they live in and which PBS station is playing in their region. By clicking on the colouring link, students can play games; learn colours, family, and read a book about adventure. There is also a link about music, where students can sing along with monkey songs, Mr. Rodgers, and Big Bird, for example. This helps them with their listening and oral skills.

Time for Kids
Depending on the creativity of the teacher and student, this site can cover the four macro skills of listening, reading, writing, and speaking. Yes, it is for children, but adults enjoy a little fun in learning. Let’s keep their motivation high too, by making our lessons a little more light hearted. This site has links to space news, entertainment, education, has a games and trivia link, a homework helper (students can read and watch videos about science, the arts, language arts, math, history, geography, social sciences, and read about researching and referencing), kids scoop (kids and immature people in the news), specials (read about biographies or articles on Africa), and there is a poll zone (students are asked thought provoking questions).

Dave’s ESL Caf’s Student Discussion Forum
This part of the ESL Café is a form of computer-mediated communication (CMC). It is important for our students to know that they can read and learn about information from different sources. Educators need to teach their students to think critically, and be able to judge for themselves what is trustworthy or reliable. Through forums, where anyone can write about any topics, students can practice their writing skills, learn about various opinions and news, and keep thinking critically. Dave’s forum, in this case, discusses the events revolving around 9/11. Students need to register (for free), and then can join any number of discussions on the board.

CBC Kids
The site for the pre-school aged students let’s them colour (vocabulary, listening), and provides links to the post office, the Moon, Nana (grandma), art, ducks, painting, stickers, songs, and hide and seek. Students can also see authentic videos. When the youngsters press the links, they can play a variety of games which can help their listening, reading, and speaking skills, as well as hand-eye coordination. The site for the elementary school aged students contains a listing of TV shows that are of interest to children, which promotes listening skills, and includes games (action games, classic games, puzzles, and show games), which can help with attitudes and motivation, both of which are indispensible to language learning.


The contents of the University of Southern Queensland (USQ) course, entitled: Internet Based Language Instruction (LIN8016) has helped me analyse the various components of Internet based teaching, such as computer-mediated communication (CMC). CMC and its use in the language classroom or lab is an integral part of any course. CMC can help teachers get in touch with other CALL teachers around the world, so they can share each other’s resources; our most important resource of course is our student group. Students can use CMC to practice listening, pronunciation and oral skills, reading, writing, which all encompass the key elements of vocabulary and grammar. Many scholars have done extensive psychological tests that prove that extensive use of CMC can actually improve students’ motivation, attitude, and confidence when speaking in the target language, and when speaking to native speakers of the target language (Hadley, 2001). In addition to CMC, I also enjoyed the pace of the course. The course designer has taken careful consideration to the fact that we are not webmasters, but EFL teachers. The course began with an introduction to the Internet, its history, defining Internet terms, as well as good search engines. These are items that most of our students should know more about than us, so it is a necessary basis for “experienced” teachers. The online discussions were very helpful, noticeably so when we had problems, other students were always available and willing to clarify concerns. We are all dealing with this course online, so it was great for many of us to work in collaboration, as a support network, in a manner of speaking. Some students were very willing to add comments, which gave further information on important matters in the IBLI and computer asssited language learning (CALL) universe.

My experience in using the Internet really began in 1997, when I coincidentally entered the TESOL work force. I initially began with simple email, and was then introduced to Dave’s ESL Café, where I learned quite a bit from other teachers, and from resources made available by our guru, Dave Sperling. I also used Pusanweb for job adverts and things for sale in the classified section. While in Tainan, Taiwan, I often visited the Tainan Bulletin, a kind of CMC discussion board offered in Yahoo Groups, very similar to Pusan Web. I taught a CD-ROM listening class at Dong-Seo University, in Busan, South Korea, and at Nan-Tai University, in Yong-Kang, Taiwan. My internet usage was limited to email, and surfing, until I came to USQ. In the prerequisite course to IBLI, called CALL (LIN 8006), we learned about various ways to use the Internet and courseware in our language classes. In CALL, and now IBLI, a new window has been opened to the vortex of information, lessons, and ideas out there for the language classroom. From movie sites, to pronunciation software, to CMC, the computer and the internet are now at the forefront of the language classroom, and we as educators must stay online with future developments.

Self Introduction

Hello boys and girls,

This here is Michael Ryan Lesser, a citizen of Canada, a resident of Australia, who calls Taiwan home. If that’s not confusing, I also consider South Korea my second home.


Now let me explain. I lived in Ottawa and Montreal, Canada, until I was 23. Upon graduation from Concordia University where I earned a Bachelor of Arts, specializing in history of the third world, I moved to Busan, South Korea, to teach EFL. I stayed there for two years, from 1997 to 1999, teaching at a few language schools and a university, while making some lifelong friends. I then moved to Tainan, Taiwan, from 2000 to 2006. I studied Chinese at National Cheng-Kung University, while teaching EFL at various schools, including a high school, where I taught for the last two years. Realizing that I needed to upgrade my skills and qualifications, I decided to come to Toowoomba, Queensland, Australia, where I am now earning a Master in TESOL at the University of Southern Queensland. I am also teaching in Study Tours, with groups of students from Korea and Japan, who come and study here for a few weeks to a month. When I graduate, I will return to Taiwan with my fiancé, Chia-Chien Wu, also a student at USQ. I plan to work in a university in Tainan for a few years, and then move to another country.


As for my teaching philosophy, I enjoy monitoring my pupils in their aspirations of learning and engaging in the English language and its culture. It is my aim to ensure that all of my students excel in their academic and personal lives. Now, more than ever, sociolinguistics and communicative language teaching are at the forefront of the syllabus; thus, it is my goal to make sure that my scholars learn proper, academic English, as well as English used in authentic, real-life situations.


My research interests include speech and pronunciation software, and teaching authentic language through the use of television and film in the EFL classroom. Students and parents of students are very concerned with being properly understood, so voice recognition software can help students gain the accent they desire. Students in today’s world are driven by media, computer games, and comics. The old conventions of learning through a textbook are old fashioned. Teachers can hit their heads against a wall, or they can adapt. Teaching EFL through popular TV shows and movies is one way to keep our students motivated in learning a foreign language.

Any questions? Try me at eslmichael@gmail.com