Sun., June 20 , 1999


Using the WWW for EFL Research and Resources

Bill Pellowe,

Document Links (will work only if this page is fully loaded):

Original version citation:
Pellowe, W. (1997). Using the WWW for EFL Research and Resources. University of Birmingham Distance MA in TESL/TEFL Programme Newsletter, 1 (2) pp. 1-3.
Notes to on-line modified version:
(*)indicates additions to the original.

When this page was first put on-line (March 1997), I wrote, "the Internet is not yet what we would hope it would be as far as researching for our papers goes". Since then, things have gotten considerably brighter. A number of core journals in our field now maintain elegant and sophisticated web sites. More ELT-related sites have appeared. And so on.

At the same time, some resources have disappeared. I've deleted the out-of-date references; if you find more, please let me know.

On this page, Internet addresses (URLs) are given in <brackets, like this> so you can print this page for future reference; please note that the http:// prefix has not been included.


Indexes of TESL Resources

There are quite a few indexes of resources for teachers on the Internet. One of the most comprehensive I've seen is the list of resources and articles maintained by the Internet TESL Journal, <>. One of the most well-known sites is Dave's ESL Cafe, <>. For a smaller list of recommended sites, TESOL Matters, the bimonthly newspaper of Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages, has a regular column called "Wandering the Web". From the on-line version at <>, their recommended sites are only a mouse click away.

(*)Teaching English in Japan has a good directory of information sources.

The Summer Institute of Linguistics maintains a great list of links for computing in linguistics <>, including (but not limited to) software archives, fonts and multilingual resources, text analysis and corpus linguistics, and computer assisted language learning (CALL).

(*)One resource of particular interest for those who would like to create their own on-line materials is software called "Hot Potatoes". It's free, and includes six applications for making interactive multiple-choice, short-answer, jumbled-sentence, crossword, matching/ordering and gap-fill exercises. Read more & download (Mac or Windows versions) from <>.

If you're looking for an IPA phonetic symbols font, a nice one is IPAPhon <>. You can download and use it (Mac and Windows), and, if you decide to keep it, there's a shareware fee.


On-Line Articles, Journals, and Journal Searches


ERIC Database

Of course, the most comprehensive source is ERIC (Educational Resources Information Center), <>. It is "a federally funded, nationwide information network designed to provide ready access to education literature. The ERIC database is the world's largest index to journal articles and documents in education, containing over 800,000 citations." (Source: the information section of the ERIC Document Reproduction Service, <>). You can do a search of ERIC Digests from <>; results are summarized versions of papers, with information on how to access the originals.

(*)One of the most effective search engines for ERIC is Search Wizard <> [LINK UPDATED FEB. 13, '98]. It contains a "thesauraus" style key word search, so that you can type in your key word(s), and the result is a list of terms used by the ERIC database for classifying documents. From there, you choose which term(s) are relevant to your search, and click a button to add those terms to your search criteria.

(*)The search results give you a list of document titles and abstracts. If there is an EDRS number (a two-letter, six-digit code), that document is available for purchase through the ERIC Document Reproduction Service (EDRS) <>.Write down the code(s) for the document(s) you wish to purchase, and visit EDRS. The first time you visit, you have to create a user name and a password. Type in something that is easy for you to remember. After that, go to the "quick purchase" section. It is a secure transaction, meaning that it is safe to transmit your credit card number. (You have to be using an up to date version of Netscape or Explorer.) A typical document will cost either $4 (four U.S. dollars) or $8 (eight U.S. dollars), depending on its size. Shipping is not expensive. To illustrate, one order I placed was for five documents. Three of them were over 25 pages, so the document cost was $8 each. The other two were shorter, so were $4 each. The total cost of shipping for the five documents was $14.65 (fourteen dollars and sixty-five cents). The documents were ordered on-line on April 7, and arrived at my home on April 15. Note that EDRS has an on-line order tracking system which is supposed to allow you to see the progress of your documents (when they were actually sent, etc.); however, this wasn't working when I placed that order. The documents had already arrived, yet the on-line document tracking page did not indicate that they had even been processed yet. When I contacted Customer Service to ask about this, they said that it was still under construction, but that typical shipping to foreign destinations takes one to three weeks. (Subsequent orders also arrived within eight days of ordering on-line.)

(*)The next time you log on to EDRS, you type in your user name and password. All of your previous order's shipping information will appear so that you don't have to type it all in again, saving you on-line time. For safety's sake, however, your credit card information is not stored on-line, so you have to type that in again. I like this feature a lot; it means that even if someone gets my password, they cannot gain access to my credit card information.

(*)If you're in a big rush for documents, EDRS offers an expensive "next day fax" service. Also, they are experimenting with a new system (which I haven't tried) which will allow you to purchase the documents and then have them sent to you on-line, thus saving you both time (no need to wait for the mail) and money (no need to pay shipping costs). It will be interesting to see how this works out.


(*)Purchasing Books On-Line

(This whole section is new.)

There are two on-line booksellers that I've used; I can recommend both. One is Amazon.Com <>, which is extremely well-known. The other is Blackwell's Online Bookshop <>, which you may not be familiar with. Amazon.Com's prices are in US dollars, and Blackwell's is in British pounds. I'll only make a brief comparison here, but I plan to take this up in more detail at a later date.

Amazon.Com bills itself as "the world's largest bookstore", but is in fact not as extensive for our purposes as Blackwell's, which bills itself as "Academic Booksellers to the World". A case in point: I was searching for a particular book published by Oxford University Press in 1996. Amazon.Com showed no record of it, yet Blackwell's actually had it in stock, and listed it as "in print". I returned to Amazon.Com and tried searching by the ISBN number of the book; it did not exist in their database. I would guess that Amazon.Com doesn't always list books which have not been released in the USA. (A lot has changed since 1997)

One feature of Blackwell's that comes in handy is the way they list details of the contents of the books, either by chapter or by section. So, when I was trying to track down the full citation for a document that claimed it was a chapter from a particular book, could only help by showing me that the title given on the document was probably wrong; Blackwell's was able to give me the full title, sub-title, and a breakdown of the sections so that I knew for sure that I'd made a positive identification.

Blackwell's requires that you create a user ID, with a password. You'll need this password as final verification when you place an order.

I recommend you try both, and compare prices (especially shipping prices) and availability. From what I've seen so far in comparing specific titles, Blackwell's offered faster shipping becaues it carried more of the titles in stock. Those url's again are <> and <>. Note that you can use the Universal Currency Converter <> to compare prices.

(Note: for purchasing published journal documents, see UnCover, above. Also see the section on ERIC, above.)



You can use UCLA's Correlation Calculator at < >. You can input two sets of numbers (or upload a file) to compute the means, variances, covariance, correlation coefficient and regression coefficients. It also gives a scatterplot with the two regression lines.

There's a statistics refresher course available at <>.


(*)Concordancing Software

Concordancing software for Macintosh:

Concordancing software for Windows:

Do a simple search of the British National Corpus from <>. You can enter your search terms directly from the page, and the results of your search will be displayed shortly thereafter. This is online as a sampler of the BNC, so there are two restrictions to the output: first, you are only given up to 50 results, and second, the results include only the full sentences which contain your search items (so you cannot backtrack to view the contexts, which puts you at a disadvantage if searching for items such as "be that as it may").

Concordancing with Language Learners: Why? When? What?, Vance Stevens. <>. (This article appears on Tim Johns' site, which includes lots of links, articles and information about data-driven learning and concordancing.)

Richard Chantrill's page for concordancing contains a lot of links, with useful commentary on each one. <>

If you're asking, "What is a corpus, and what's in it?", check out <>. Also, for links to concordances you can use and more links to software, see <>.

For an extensive list of software and references, see Harold Klein's page of links to text analysis software: <>


Finding Further Resources

Another way to find information is through search engines. You type in some key words, and the search engine looks for matches. There are different types of search engines. Some only index the first hundred words or so on a page. This is similar to finding articles based on searching for keywords in abstracts. The disadvantage to this is that some of the words which you might consider important may not appear until later on the page; if this is the case, your search will not find it. Another type of search engine indexes every word on a page. An example of this type is Hotbot, <>. You can type in as many words as you think are relevant, and choose the option of "any of these words". This is useful, but is often hit-or-miss, as there could be thousands of unrelated sites listed. The trick is to try and type in a number of relevant terms (with a space between them) which you would expect to find in the text of an article. To further define your search, you can choose the "modify" option. This allows you to specify additional criteria for your seach, such as words which must or must not be on the pages. A third option is to go to education-specific search engines, such as the Education World search engine at <>. The advantage, obviously, is that the entries are all education-oriented. The disadvantage to search engines such as this is that they do not automatically index all the sites on the WWW; rather, they depend on people voluntarily submitting URLs to be included.



(nb.: conclusion to the published, written version)
This article should not be taken as a comprehensive survey of what the World Wide Web has to offer, but as an overview of the experience of this particular writer. Others will have had different experiences, and it is my hope that they will add an account of their experiences to this paper. The medium of printed pages does not lend itself readily to post scripts by readers, although the medium of the Internet does. In order to take full advantage of the flexibility and immediacy of the WWW, I have put a copy of this article on the Web at <>. I welcome your additions to this resource; please send your recommendations to me ( and I will add them to the on-line version, with full credit given to the author(s).


put on-line March 7, 1997
(c) Bill Pellowe