Their first e-mail mini-project, as mentioned in the previous class note, was to write an e-mail message to my sister in the United States. My sister's replies arrived today, so the students were able to read the replies. They all spent some of today's class replying.
One student's message, however, was returned because she had typed in the e-mail address wrong. I showed her how to cut and paste the returned message into a new message to send.
My sister's replies to two of the students' messages could not be sent because the students had typed in their "reply to:" addresses incorrectly. My sister had forwarded her replies directly to me, and I sent them along to the students (after adjusting my own Mail Preferences so that the messages appeared to be coming from my sister, with her name and e-mail address in the headers). I told the students to make sure their information was entered correctly next time.
The second e-mail project was the result of an e-mail discussion I had with an elementary school teacher in the USA. This is the plan we came up with: The American students would e-mail questions about Japan to my students, and cc a copy of the questions to me so that I could ensure that the questions were answered. The American students were given the URL of an on-line list of my students (names and e-mail addresses) so that the questions would be distributed among the students. These questions also arrived today, so my students were busy reading and answering their e-mail messages for the whole class hour.
Some students were unable to answer the questions simply because the questions would be difficult even to a fully bilingual person (e.g., Who is Buddha? ). I told the students that this e-mail exchange was for the purpose of cross-cultural communication, so if they didn't know an answer, they should simply admit that they didn't know, and then give a reason why they didn't know (e.g., because they'd never studied a particular topic before, etc.). It seems to me that this information would be equally interesting (and culturally illuminating) to the person making the inquiry.
A message to one student included a question about what the school looked like. I helped guide this student to our school's homepage so that she could (with my help) save a picture of our school to her desktop and then send it as an attachment to her e-mail message. I also told her a common phrase for indicating an attachment is attached. The technique of attaching things to messages (and mailing entire web pages) will be covered on a class-wide basis in the future.
This week, we have very few classes. Yesterday (Tuesday the 29th) was a national
holiday, tomorrow (Thursday the 1st of May) is a school-wide event, we don't have
this course on Fridays, and next Monday is another national holiday.
A lot of mail had accumulated on the server during the long weekend. Students received replies from the students in the USA, my sister, and introductory messages from ESL students in Australia (who, incidentally, are using some of these on-line materials in their own lessons). My students spent the class hour in much the same way as the lesson described above. Some were very surprised to learn that the students in the USA were around 9 or 10 years old (some of my students had asked their keypals how old they were). A message to one of my students contained praise for her English, which I thought was nice. It shows that the teacher in the US has succeeded, I believe, in one of his or her goals in opening up the students to other cultures, including the fact that there are many people in the world (and indeed, perhaps in their own community) who are learning English, and that this intellectual effort is something praiseworthy (i.e., a lack of English does not reflect a lack of intelligence). (I say "his or her" because the name is "Terry", and I never asked what sex Terry is, despite frequent correspondence concerning the e-mail exchange.)
Also, some students took a brief online survey in conjuction with the "Names" project, which is described more fully in the notes for lesson 11.
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