Business English and the World Wide Web:An E-commerce Web Page Project Anthony Crooks Sendai Board of Education Sendai-shi, Miyagi-ken, Japan
Outline • Introduction • Rationale behind the project • Background of students • Procedure - week by week • Product • Problems, issues and solutions
Rationale • 5 week computer class – what to do? • Maintaining of interest for students. • Application of acquired skills. • Internet-competent class members.
Background of Students • Participating students were: • enrolled at an Intensive English program (IEP) in Melbourne, Australia. • in the final weeks of a Business English course. • close to upper-intermediate in English competence. • computer and Internet literate. • had completed a web page in the past. • in their mid-twenties. • from Asia.
Week 1 • Examination and analysis of commercial Internet sites. • Revision of students’ web page design techniques. • Re-familiarization with web page design package (HotDog). • Provision of primary assignment.
Primary Assignment • In groups of four, students were to advertise a local business with a website. • Their websites should comprise three linked web pages and featuring some of the characteristics found in commercial websites. • Their websites should make viewers’ interested in using or buying the businesses’ products and services.
Week 1 (continued) • Students compiled relevant interview questions for business proprietors in the community close to the IEP center. • By Week 2 they were to have found a business to use as a website client, and have arranged a time to meet the proprietor.
Week 2 • Before class, students: • had identified a business and obtained some data. • arranged to meet proprietors for interview about their businesses. • Initial interview questions were narrowed and refined. • Basic web page design skills were further revised.
Weeks 3 & 4 • Preparation of the web pages - discussion on content and design. • Opportunity for me to inspect their progress and offer suggestions and advice. • Some students used class time to re-interview proprietors and take photos of their businesses.
Week 5 • Websites ‘tweaked’ and then inspected and critiqued by class. • Assessment by class members and myself. • General feedback about the value of the project.
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Advantages of the Project • Students were engaged in a wide range of language acts. • Reading (web pages, business brochures). • Speaking and listening (to each other, to business proprietors). • Writing (web pages). • Working collaboratively in English towards products of which they were genuinely proud.
Problems • In a number of cases: • students used fliers from restaurants to compile their web pages resulting in little English usage. • students had difficulty finding compliant proprietors. • members of the groups ‘took a back seat’ and were merely observers rather than participants in the creation process.
Solutions • Find compliant proprietors and set up interviews for students. • Have students create their own products and services to advertise. • Upload the files to the Internet for ‘completion.’ • Reduce groups to pairs. • Ensure that students have specific roles to play in each group.
Japan-Specific Issues • Conducting this project in Japan would reduce the demand on the students to speak English. • Greater emphasis needs to be placed on: • the students’ interaction in English in class. • the preliminary tasks and discussions (e.g. web page examination). • the presentation of the final page in English. • Foreign businesses in Japan could be used.
Requirements • A computer room with sufficient computers for student use (i.e. one computer per pair). • Computers with power enough to handle web design processing tasks (e.g. Pentium+ models). • An Internet connection. • Web space – free servers such as Homestead, Geocities & NBCi.
Resources - Software • At a minimum, Microsoft Word (saving pages at HTML files) or Netscape Composer. • Shareware and freeware packages such as CoffeeCup Free HTML or Arachnophilia (both available at http://www.tucows.com). • Online page-building at Geocities and Homestead (suitable for those institutions with with dedicated Internet access).
Resources - Software • Programs to edit and view images: • Paint Shop Pro - http://www.jasc.com • ACDSee - http://www.acdsystems.com/english • Programs to upload files to the Internet: • WS_FTP LE - http://www.ipswitch.com • CuteFTP - http://www.cuteftp.com
Resources - Webspace • Free webspace is available at the following sites: • Geocities: http://www.geocities.com • Homestead: http://www.homestead.com • NBCi: http://www.nbci.com • Tripod: http://www.tripod.lycos.com • Angelfire: http://www.angelfire.lycos.com
Resources - Web Page Guides • McFredies, Paul (2000) The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Creating a Web Page, fourth edition, Macmillan. • Smith, Bud E. (2000) Creating Web Pages for Dummies, fifth edition, IDG Books Worldwide. • http:///www.ehow.com (free online training).
Where to Find This Information… • To examine this presentation, including web pages, weblinks, The Language Teacher article and suggested resources, go to: http://www.anthonycrooks.com