The Dongeui International Journal No. 3 June 1997
Publisher : Dong-eui University, Pusan, Korea

E-MAIL AND THE FRENCH COMPOSITION CLASS

A Report from the University of San Diego

 

Michèle Claude Magnin

USD, California, USA

INTRODUCTION

This article will describe two applications of Internet in the foreign language composition classes in two universities in California. The first application is presented by Michèle Magnin, PhD. who teaches French at the University of San Diego (USD), and the second by Carollyn Rudesill, M.A., who teaches Spanish at the University of California - Santa Cruz (UCSC). Both paradigms can easily apply or be adapted to other foreign languages, including English as a Second Language (ESL). Two practical differences will appear in these projects: the first has to do with the length of the programs. UCSC is on a ten-week quarter system whereas USD is on a fourteen-week semester system, which will affect the amount of writing required in each syllabus, but not the basic concept of the application. The other distinction, also of little importance as far as the philosophy of the projects is concerned is the use of an internal e-mail system at UCSC (intranet) as opposed to Internet at USD. A more worthwhile distinction, however, is that my colleague has chosen to eliminate completely the use of paper for her students compositions, whereas I, at USD have only exploited Internet initially for its ease and speed in circulating compositions to be read by the whole class (hence also saving many trees) and still use printed copies at some point. I had looked into a software program last year called "Common Space" to facilitate an exclusively electronic exchange, but decided to wait for a later version more adapted to foreign languages. Therefore, even this last difference is that of a stage in evolution, not of fundamental philosophy. The similarity of our conclusions on the rewards for the use of CALL gave birth to the present report on our experiences.

DESCRIPTION

Two years ago, I started teaching an advanced composition class in French, at a time when Internet was taking over the country by storm. It seemed logical to adapt a program that included an interactive global simulation (The Building) and a group writing project (The Detective Story or "Polar") to e-mail. The practical aspect first attracted me: no need to make twenty copies of twenty compositions each two or three pages long. But as the project developed, I found out many more beneficial features to this electronic adaptation. At first I was afraid that having to work in the computer lab, away from a library and dictionaries, students might be handicapped. But as the plethora of sites mushroomed on the World Wide Web, including some featuring language dictionaries and grammar support, I no longer felt uneasy. Moreover, since a writing course should be an opportunity to better teach a culture, the computer lab was the perfect place for students to explore and research the cultural aspects of their composition or journal topics on the Web. As the semester went on, I started to discover many other benefits to the quality of communication being established between the students and myself. They could be summed up in three words: quality, efficiency and personalization.
E-MAIL AS A POWERFUL COMMUNICATION TOOL

    1. An important message can be proof-read, pondered, corrected. A comment made in class on a touchy subject (grade, work appreciation, participation) cannot be taken back.
    2. When students use Internet, they belong to a worldwide network. They can meet students from all over the world and correspond with them. And if they use Netscape, they can find out a wealth of information about each other's country.
    3. Integrating a modern, prestigious and popular tool such as the Internet into your course curriculum raises the students' esteem in the quality of the education they are receiving, reflecting favorably upon you as a teacher and the institution where they study.
    4. Because of the excellence of the tools available at the touch of a keyboard (i.e. dictionaries and grammar help on the Web or spellcheck on word-processing softwares of much higher caliber than the pocket dictionaries that students tend to carry around), writing quality and precision are improving.
    1. Speed of exchange and circulation - compositions or comments are received in minutes: no need to wait for the next class.
    2. When 20 compositions of an average two-page length have to be read by a group of 20 students, it is a significant saving of time and paper to be able to circulate them through e-mail rather than having to xerox them.
    3. Keeping track of studentsí progress has become easier: their work is always available - even when an essay is corrected and returned to the student - and so are your own comments.
    4. General comments about an assignment can be sent to the whole class
    5. If the teacher establishes a pattern of sending important messages very early on, students will use e-mail regularly, and he/she can use it effectively to send reminders, exercises or corrections, etc.
    6. Students can ask questions anytime, when they think of them, and do not have to wait for the professor's next office hour for the answer.
    7. Best feature: an omission in class can be corrected immediately by e-mail and free the mind until the next meeting.
    1. Because e-mail is perceived by the students as a " fun to use", informal communication tool, they will feel less intimidated and will more readily ask questions they would otherwise not bother to ask in class in front of others.
    2. Corrections and comments can be more personal or relevant.
    3. If the rule is to use only the target language in the classroom, e-mail allows the less advanced students to ask information in the language of their choice, privately, without penalty. Shy students will discover a "voice." After the initial contact, they will be more inclined to come for help in my office.

THE WRITING PROJECTS

Although the class includes many different types of teaching approaches (cf. Appendix A), this report will concentrate on the two types of assignments sent over the Internet: journal entries and compositions.

What remains the most exciting and motivating factor of this writing course is a global simulation adapted from Francis Debyser's book entitled "The Building" or in French L'Immeuble. And although the program includes an advanced grammar review, detailed textual analysis, and vocabulary expansion exercises, students remember mostly the excitement of having worked on this project which makes up only about 30% to 40% of the total amount of work done in the class.

A "global simulation" means creating an environment which can potentially bring about situations where life, love and death may be encountered. The building provides such an environment. Each student becomes a tenant in our virtual building and chooses every aspect of a person's identity: male or female, age, nationality, ethnic and cultural background, profession, family, friends. The World Wide Web's sites can become an inspiration as well as boundless sources of information. After choosing the city or region where the building is located, students can learn about the style of architecture therein, the streets, parks, shops, local atmosphere, climate, population and customs. Local news can be found and used to originate journal topics or incidents. Ways of life, social habits, work and family environment can also be explored either on the Web or through correspondence with e-mail penpals. It is a remarkable chance to promote cultural understanding by asking students to imagine and write about how they fit in this new environment. A list of recommended web sites for this part of the course is provided in Appendix B.

As each tenant's character develops through compositions and journals, the building comes to life and intrigues form. The role of the teacher is to capitalize on the personalities and situations developed to create situations worth writing about. Because each semester will bring about a new cast of characters, situations will always vary and repetition or monotony will never be a problem. And since students - behind the alias of the tenant - can still talk about themselves, the appeal never lacks.

When the dynamic of the characters is well established, and several incidents have occurred in the building, paving the way for a mystery to be solved, the class is divided into groups who will each write a chapter of a detective story. An episode will be rewritten in dialogues as the scene of a play in which the students will act out their own character. By the end of the semester, students have practiced many forms of written expression, but most of all, they leave the class with the idea that writing in French can be fun.

CONCLUSION

I will not go so far as saying that all the credit is due to CALL, but I believe that the symbiotic relationship of CALL and global simulations is potentially prodigal and fruitful. Interactive projects lend themselves particularly well to telematic applications: the ease and rapidity of the exchanges facilitate intercommunication and the availability of Web sources enriches the cultural explorations.

APPENDIX A

THE BUILDING IN A 14-WEEK CLASS SYLLABUS

WEEK ACTIVITY

  1. - Presentation of the project: choice of country, city, neighborhood of the building. -- Choice of characters (age, sex, occupation, ethnic origin, religion, hobbies, friends) - Study of the portrait (physical descriptions, psychological and introspection) - JOURNAL TOPIC: the tenant explores his/her neighborhood
  2. - GRAMMAR: sentence structure

  3. - Composition I: Self-portrait of the tenant.
  4. - JOURNAL TOPIC: more introspective exploration of the character

    - GRAMMAR: The verb versus the substantive - different usage

  5. - Correction of composition I to be sent (by e-mail) to the whole class
  6. - JOURNAL TOPIC: exploring the immediate environment - building, apartment, room, decoration, choice of furniture, pets

    - GRAMMAR: relative pronouns - complex sentences

  7. - Composition II: the portrait of a neighbor (changing point of view)
  8. - JOURNAL TOPIC: noises, odors, mail, graffiti - discovering and describing life in the building though the senses

    - GRAMMAR: adjectives and adverbs

  9. - Correction of composition II
  10. - JOURNAL TOPIC: an incident in the building - reaction of several tenants

    - GRAMMAR: the use of the infinitive

  11. - Composition III: one of the incidents chosen from the journals turns into a mystery to be solved
  12. - JOURNAL TOPIC: answering machines of the tenants and their messages

    - GRAMMAR: the subjunctive

  13. - Composition IV: a memorable event in the life of the tenant (narration in the past)
  14. - JOURNAL TOPIC: an unexpected visit

    - GRAMMAR: review of the past tenses

  15. - Composition V: detailed outlined of the detective story in six chapters
  16. - JOURNAL TOPIC: a love intrigue in the building / or an evening in a café

    - GRAMMAR: indirect speech

  17. - Composition VI: after selection of the best outline, each group is responsible for a chapter of the story
  18. - JOURNAL TOPIC: a young American in disguise rings the bells and yells "trick or treat" in the building on Halloween night. Surprised reactions of the tenants

    - GRAMMAR: direct speech

  19. - Composition VII: after correcting inconsistencies in the chapters of the story, selection of an episode of one of the chapters to be written as a dialogue
  20. - JOURNAL TOPIC: going shopping with a friend or opening someone else's mail by mistake - giving the opened letter back

    - GRAMMAR: tense agreement

  21. - Staging for the scene (composition VII) and rehearsal of the dialogues
  22. - JOURNAL TOPIC: a party in the building

    - GRAMMAR: present participle/gerund

  23. - Composition VIII: a famous movie director is going to make a film of the story. explain the choice of location, and actors for the main roles.
  24. - JOURNAL TOPIC: a bus strike - reactions

    - GRAMMAR: past participle

  25. - Composition IX: the building is condemned - all the tenants must find another place to live.
  26. - JOURNAL TOPIC: best moments and favorite characters in the buildings

    - GRAMMAR: future and conditional

  27. - Composition X: double the size of composition I - the self-portrait - adding as many details as possible (introspective and descriptive)

- JOURNAL TOPIC: a farewell party for the tenants - they tell their plans for the future

- GRAMMAR: review

 

 

APPENDIX B

The following is a selection of Web sites that can be used for French. These and many more are included in the Web site I created for my students:

http://www.acusd.edu/~mmagnin

 

 

 

 

CALL in the Spanish Language Class

A Report from the University of California, Santa Cruz

 

Carollyn S. Rudesill

UCSC, USA

 

Over the past three years, I have incorporated computers into the foreign language curriculum at the University of California, Santa Cruz, in a variety of ways. The response from my students has been overwhelmingly positive, and the pedagogical benefits have also become steadily more obvious.

The first step I took to incorporate the advantages of the computer into my Spanish classes was about three years ago, when I began to require that all written compositions be turned in electronically. In our ten week quarters, I usually require three compositions written outside class, (as well as one composition done during the class hour). The three at - home compositions have long been prepared on computer by most students, so it seemed like a logical next step to eliminate the paper intermediary and simply request that all compositions be turned in electronically. My initial reasoning was very simple, and responded to some practical considerations: 1) conservation of natural resources, 2) no more leaving papers at home, and subsequently needing them for correction at the office (and vice versa), 3) a desire to stop hauling a heavy briefcase containing student papers just to ensure that I would have them with me whenever I had an opportunity to spend some time on corrections.

How does this computerized writing project function? Since most students already wrote their compositions on the computer, the only change from their point of view occurred at the final step - instead of printing out the paper to bring to class, they transferred the composition electronically to my box on the Foreign Language Server set up by our universityís computer services office. I have been glad that this Server was available, because it would be quite burdensome to receive student compositions directly to my regular e-mail account: if this were the case, I would have to sort through numerous student compositions before being able to read more urgent incoming mail. If students choose to write their compositions on their own computers, I announce ahead of time which programs my computer can "translate" (in my case, any version of Microsoft Word, Claris Works and some IBM compatibles) and the student simply transports the composition from home to the university via diskette, and then makes the electronic transfer at any computer terminal connected to the Foreign Language Server on campus (at UCSC, this includes all computers located in the several student computer labs.)

Although I was initially very concerned about how "confusing" this might seem (and some of the students were too....) I have discovered a few simple steps which insure almost 100% success. If several of the students do not feel comfortable making the electronic transfer, I arrange for the final 15 minutes of a class period to adjourn to the nearest computer lab, and I carefully demonstrate to students the process they must go through to make the transfer. I include in my course syllabus which students receive in one of the first classes a detailed description of how written compositions will be electronically turned in. This description can be used by students to take each step necessary at the keyboard to make the transfer. While I am present in the computer lab, each student goes through the process and can bring up any questions that arise before the crucial moment when the first composition is due.

Now, having answered the practical questions concerning the process involved in my computerized editing of compositions, I would like to discuss how this innovation has benefited both my students and myself. Benefits to the students have included: 1) increased writing; 2) more thorough and more rapid feedback; 3) less "threatening" feedback; 4) more individual contact with instructor regarding writing skills, both via computer and in person! Many of these benefits were completely unexpected when I began the project, and are caused by aspects I had not even foreseen!

Thus, much as I would like to say that my initiation of computer editing of student foreign language compositions was impelled by a complete pedagogical insight on my part, the numerous benefits that I have witnessed in my studentsí written work have only become apparent to me after the fact, and were not entirely anticipated on my part.

I would like to discuss the above-mentioned benefits one by one. The first aspect - a studentís tendency to write more, I cannot explain, but I am sure they do. Partly I think it is because they know they cannot "shortchange" me by using a large font, wide margins etc. I tell them that I will immediately do a word count when I open each composition, and require that it be fairly close to the minimum word requirement for the composition, or I will return it (requirements are generally 250 words for first compositions/ 500 - 750 for compositions at the end of the first year.) Also, I think they feel comfortable with the "process" aspect of the composition, and feel more connected to the recipient, so they tend to explore ideas more thoroughly.

As the year goes on, I think they also feel more inclined to write more because they receive much more thorough and more specific response from the instructor, and usually more quickly than I was able to do previously. The rapidity of my feedback is technically inexplicable and was a surprise to me - why should I correct electronic compositions more quickly than stacks of paper? I suspect that my speedier response is due to several differences in the handling of electronic documents versus paper documents: since I frequently check e-mail or write documents on the computer, I often dedicate a half hour to correct a few compositions while I am at the computer, and so I tend to do several compositions during a workday, even when I have not scheduled a lengthy block of time for composition correction. Also, I have a tendency to leave stacks of paper on a corner of the desk and give them lesser consideration - when I am on the computer, there is a sense of the constant "presence" of these documents, and I simply feel the need to work through them. Students often comment on how quickly I get their work back to them.

The thoroughness and the specific comments I am able to give students are a direct result of the electronic nature of the corrections. My regular computer editing consists of two important elements:

First: I highlight in bold-face every simple error, and put a code next to it, identifying the kind of error that it is: an agreement error (feminine, masculine, plural, etc.); spelling, accent, verb tense, wrong word etc. The student then makes all the necessary corrections him/herself following my recommendations (cf. Appendices A & B).

Second: I write a brief paragraph at the beginning of the composition, giving an overall assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of the composition, and what are the repeated errors which the student should address. I go into much more detail than I ever did when I sat down with a stack of papers, and there are some good reasons why I am able to do so.

For one thing, there are (as we all know) only so many errors the language student can commit. So I write and store a thorough, encouraging correction for that particular error, and insert it right where the error appears on every paper that needs it. If a student is mixing formal and informal address/ misspells the irregular preterit/ forgets stem - changing verbs/ forgets to have adjectives agree with the nouns they modify, I state the rule, give an example, and remind them of the explanation that corrects this problem. For the rest of the composition, they will see the error highlighted, and the overall rule reminding them every time this error occurs. In a sense, this personalizes the instruction and gives students much more information than I would normally have included in a composition correction (yet does not really require a great deal more effort on my part....)

The third benefit of the electronic editing is what I am calling "less threatening" feedback and is one of those unquantifiable responses that is difficult to define. The "red pen" syndrome disappears -- and students definitely feel better about the corrections when they are incorporated as part of a "work in process." We all understand that we help students improve writing skills by emphasizing the process that they must go through in order to improve, and not just correct the errors that we find in their work. Electronic editing is ideally suited to this! My students generally feel that since the composition wasnít "printed out" and given to me on paper, that my corrections are basically part of the draft, and their final revision is often a nearly perfect work. I preserve both evaluations for my record, and thus track the steady progress of my students.

The very nature of the electronic correction seems to communicate that the essay is not yet "complete" - the student and instructor are working together on the project, and the student is given the opportunity to make corrections and resubmit a correct document without ever seeing the composition as a final "paper." I have felt that this unspoken cooperation between student and instructor has been part of what has inspired students to write more, and to feel better about their efforts when submitting compositions electronically.

The fourth benefit I listed of the electronic composition correction is greater individual contact with the instructor, and this truly was not an aspect I dreamed of in advance! For some time, language instructors have often had the feeling that they were being encouraged to incorporate "high tech" solutions into their programs when a strong human dimension is essential in the teaching of languages and culture. Many of us were concerned that the interjection of machines between the students and ourselves would take away the warmth and interest that is generated when people speak to people. My experience with computer editing of compositions has proven the exact opposite! In fact, some real, personal communication with my students has been established in an area where there was little or NO communication before.

Since the student is not turning in an official "paper", I have found that students often feel free to ask me questions right in the body of the composition. For instance, they will say - "Iím not sure which verb tense to use here ?" - and when I return the composition, I often can include a brief but clear explanation of why one tense is better than another. Students actually take the opportunity to raise questions and problems that arise when they are writing -- something I have never witnessed in the text of a printed document turned in by a foreign language student!

Also, when a student turns in a composition that is very confused, or which contains many grammatical and contextual errors, I "discuss" the problem in my narrative at the beginning of the composition, but usually also request that the student come in to my office hours to discuss the composition. I have begun requesting this more often, and students take up this invitation. In this way, I spend very fruitful time with the students who need this additional instruction, and they appreciate the positive support they get.

My last comment concerning electronic composition correction is that regular in-class compositions are still a necessity! I have always assigned at least one composition per term that would be done totally in class, in addition to briefer essays included in quizzes. I continue to do this for many reasons. Initially, I felt that the important reason to do this was to "feel out" students and be sure that the strong writing was not being helped by a Spanish speaking friend at home, or too heavy dependence on the grammar text or dictionary etc. However, I have also have found that some students who do poorly on the regular compositions actually do much better on the one-hour unaided compositions in class! Reasons for this are varied, but include the occasional student who is very literally minded and who is betrayed by heavy dictionary use. This student often can produce an almost unintelligible soup if given plenty of time and a dictionary... but adheres to the structures that s/he has been taught when forced to write in class without aid of the textbook or dictionary. I balance the performance from both types of writing when I evaluate the studentsí overall writing ability.

A second project I have done in my more advanced language classes was a composition where students corrected each other. In one stylistics class, I had students choose a pen name which they told to me, and turn in one essay which they signed only with their pen name. I assigned the compositions to classmates to correct, specifically matching very strong students with the weaker ones in every case, and the middle level students with middle level students. This project was a complete success!

Of course, the weaker students, reading the excellent papers, learned some of what is possible in Spanish, and there were very few errors that they needed to find! And the strongest students reading the weaker papers were perfectly capable of finding and indicating problems to them! The privacy (and mystery) of the project appealed to all the students -- they returned their comments to each other electronically without ever finding out whose paper they had read! And of course, I read them all after the student-editing!

My third and final project is the most exciting one: a "Virtual Fieldtrip" to Mexico!! I will be leading a group of 20 undergraduates from UCSC to Mexico for the entire spring quarter, and we will be sharing this experience with interested students anywhere who choose to follow our adventures on the World Wide Web! The students have already been selected, a web page has been set up with a photograph and biography for each one, telling about their interests, concerns and goals in going to study in Mexico. After we arrive in Mexico, we will be sending approximately 20 photographs per week, and short diary entries in Spanish that will be posted on each studentís page.

With this project, other high school and college students who may be interested in traveling to a Spanish speaking country can "see" the major sites through the eyes of a contemporary, can learn of their experiences in living with a Mexican family, what foods they love/hate, what cultural differences trouble or enchant them, etc. I foresee the benefits of this project to be enormous both for my own students in Mexico, and for the students who participate in the trip "virtually." It is common for students on field trips to be asked to record their impressions and experiences in a diary, often in the language they are studying: for my students, there will be the added incentive and reward of having their comments immediately "published" and put to use by other interested students. Of course, for students who are not going to Mexico, this may open the door to a future trip by giving them the opportunity to see how their contemporaries handle the cultural differences, grow in their language abilities, and "survive" 10 weeks in a different country! The Web page giving information about this "Virtual Fieldtrip" to Mexico has been set up and the address is: http://www.catsic.ucsc.edu/~morelia. The trip will take place between April 1 and June 15.

APPENDIX A

SPANISH MACINTOSH INSTRUCTIONS

Note: You may print this out if you wish to carry it with you!

1) Accent marks - Holding down "option", push the "e" button, then release, and the next vowel you write will have an accent mark over it. For the ñ, hold the option button and hit "n", then strike the n key again, and you have ñ. Upside down question marks: hold down shift button and option button plus question markŅ Upside down exclamation point, hold down option button and hit the exclamation point °

2) Editing indications after a hyphen have the following meanings:

g = género incorrecto (gender -- el, la)

c = concordancia (plural, masculino, femenino)

v = verbo incorrecto. Muchas veces, si el verbo es ser, estar o "hay" uno de los otros es indicado

t = tiempo incorrecto (pretérito, imperfecto, presente)

d = deletreo (spelling error)

p - palabra diferente

ac - acento (either needs accent mark, or not, as appropriate)

+ = need to add something, usually a preposition (comenzar + = comenzar a)

* = need to omit something (me gusta a * viajar = me gusta viajar)

When something is underlined without a symbol, it is either an "accent" indication, or it is the same word and error that has been corrected earlier in the composition. If you still have questions, include them at the top of your revision after making an effort to correct work.

Please make your corrections, leaving the new word/words in boldface. You may delete my correction indications and the original errors, or not as you prefer.

 

APPENDIX B

Me gustan muchos c/ actividades como los deportes. En mi escuela secundaria, juegé -d/ vólibol por tres años. Juegamos -d/ en escuelas differentes -d/. °Lo esto = Fue/ muy divertida! Juegé -d/ fútbol también cuando esté -v/t menor. Pero juegé para = por/ un tiempo corto = poco tiempo/. No me gusta el fútbol como el vólibol. Pasado trimestre = El trimestre pasado - orden/ (normalmente los adjetivos van después del sustantivo en español) aquí en la universidad, tuvé (sin acento) una clase de nadar = natación/. Aprendí +a/ nadar mejor

 

APPENDIX C

Composition Profile Student: _______________________

Total points: _________ Comments: ________________________

 

Level Criteria

CONTENT

30 - 28

EXCELLENT: knowledgeable* substantive* thorough development of thesis* relevant to assigned topic

 

( ___ / 30)

27 - 25

VERY GOOD: strong knowledge of subject* adequate range* limited development of thesis* mostly relevant topic, but lacks detail

 
 

24 - 22

GOOD TO SATISFACTORY: limited knowledge of subject* some substance* inadequate development of topic

 
 

21 - 18

POOR: shows poor knowledge of subject* non - substantive* not pertinent* OR not enough to evaluate

 

ORGANIZATION

20 - 19

EXCELLENT: fluent expression* ideas clearly stated/ supported* succinct well - organized * logical sequencing* cohesive

 

( ___ / 20)

18 - 17

VERY GOOD: fairly fluent expression* ideas usually clearly stated/ supported* well - organized * logical sequencing* cohesive

 
 

16 - 14

GOOD TO SATISFACTORY: somewhat choppy* loosely organized but main ideas stand out* limited support * logical but incomplete sequencing

 
 

13 - 12

POOR/ UNSATISFACTORY: non fluent* ideas confused or disconnected* lacks logical sequencing and developing * OR not enough to evaluate

 

VOCABULARY

20 - 19

EXCELLENT: sophisticated range* effective word / idiom choice, usage* form mastery* appropriate register

 

( ___ / 20)

18 - 17

VERY GOOD: adequate range* occasional errors of word/ idiom form, choice, usage but meaning NOT obscured

 
 

16 - 14

GOOD TO SATISFACTORY: limited range* frequent errors of word/ idiom form, choice, usage* meaning confused or obscured. inadequate knowledge of vocabulary, idioms, word form

 
 

13 - 12

POOR/ UNSATISFACTORY: essentially translation* * OR not enough to evaluate

 

LANGUAGE USE

25 - 23

EXCELLENT: effective complex constructions* few errors of agreement, tense, number, word order/ function, articles, pronouns prepositions

 

( ___ / 25)

22 - 20

VERY GOOD: sometimes uses complex constructions* some errors of agreement, tense, number, word order/ function, articles, pronouns prepositions

 
 

19 - 16

GOOD TO SATISFACTORY: effective but simple constructions* repeated problems in complex constructions*

 
 

15 - 13

UNSATISFACTORY: major problems in simple / complex constructions* frequent errors of negation, agreement, tense, number, word order/ function, articles, pronouns, prepositions and / or fragments, run - ons* meaning confused or obscured.

 

MECHANICS

5

EXCELLENT: demonstrates mastery of conventions* few errors of spelling, punctuation, capitalization, accent marks, paragraphing

 

( ___ / 5)

4

VERY GOOD: few errors of spelling, punctuation, capitalization, accent marks, paragraphing

 
 

3

GOOD TO SATISFACTORY: several errors of spelling, punctuation, capitalization, accent marks, paragraphing

 
 

2

UNSATISFACTORY: frequent errors of spelling, punctuation, capitalization, accent marks, paragraphing

 

 

ABSTRACT

This article describes two applications of Internet in the foreign language composition curriculum. The first application is that of a French writing class at the University of San Diego (USD), and the second of a Spanish language course at the University of California - Santa Cruz (UCSC). Both paradigms can easily apply or be adapted to other foreign languages, including English as a Second Language (ESL).

The French project is an adaptation of an interactive global simulation entitled "The Building" (LíImmeuble) where each student becomes a tenant and chooses an identity. It allows the students to improve their grammar and writing skills, their vocabulary and their knowledge of the French culture while writing extensively and intensively. A syllabus for the course and helpful web sites are provided in the Appendix.

The second report describes the practical aspects and advantages of entirely electronic exchanges for compositions in the Spanish language class from the studentsí and professorsí points of view. Both reports stress the fact that this mode of communication actually improves the quality of the rapport between learner and teacher, making it more personal and dismiss the myth that computers dehumanize our world. Carollyn Rudesill concludes her program with the ultimate personal experience for language learning: an actual trip to Mexico and the creation of a web site for the students to share their experience online with other students throughout the world, with photographs and daily journal entries.