A Trip to Tahiti

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  • 45VOL. 11 NO. 3 TESOL JOURNAL

    A Trip to TahitiWang Jun

    W ith new resources available through the WorldWide Web, it is possible to expose students to aworld that reaches far beyond the printed text inwell-worn textbooks. In A Trip to Tahiti, advanced-levelEFL students at Wuhan University, in China, created a 4-day virtual field trip to Tahiti. They made airplane, hotel,and car rental reservations; located places to eat; andplanned interesting things to see and do. The class project,to be completed in 4 weeks of English classes (approxi-mately eight sessions), was to produce an itinerary andbudget for the trip.

    ProcedureExplain to the students that they are going to plan a virtualtrip to Tahiti. (I chose Tahiti because I have always beenfascinated by the legendary island.)

    Selecting Places to Visit

    1. Have the students, in groups of three, search Websites for information about Tahiti. You mayprovide them with a list of sites or allow them toexplore the Internet in search of their own. Youmay first need to demonstrate how to use searchengines (e.g., Google, Yahoo!) to locate Web sitesfor students who are unfamiliar with the Internet.Some popular travel Web sites are:

    www.travelocity.com www.lonelyplanet.com www.travel.yahoo.com www.roughguides.com www.greatbuildings.com www.lastminute.com

    2. After the groups negotiate places they want tovisit in Tahiti, ask one member of each group toact as group leader and report to the class wherehis or her group would like to go in Tahiti andwhy.

    3. Next, have the entire class discuss the groupsuggestions and agree on the places they wouldmost like to visit during their 4-day trip.

    Creating Task Assignments

    4. Ask the class to create a list of tasks to prepare forthe trip (e.g., making airplane, hotel, and carrental reservations; finding venues to visit;

    planning activities; locating places to eat). Haveeach group select one task to complete.

    5. Prepare a set of writing guidelines for the taskassignments. For example, if a group chooses toresearch activities (e.g., touring the differentislands in Tahiti, visiting museums and themeattractions, going snorkeling), their writingshould include a brief introduction and informa-tion about hours of operation, admission costs,and how to get there. Have the group leaderstype the groups descriptions on the computer.

    6. Ask the groups to include a list of expenses to uselater for the budget. For example, studentsworking on finding places to eat should list thenames and locations of the restaurants; menus;and costs. If price information is not available onthe Web sites, ask students to calculate approxi-mate costs based on their personal dining andtravel experiences. (You may first need to discusscurrency exchange rates.) Alternatively, studentscan use other means to obtain information, suchas faxing the hotels or restaurants using contactnumbers listed on the Web sites. This will helpthem prepare a more accurate budget and givethem practice in requesting information.

    7. Have all the groups exchange their descriptionsand budgets electronically by e-mail for com-ment.

    Writing the Itinerary

    8. After the groups have exchanged feedback via e-mail, have the class discuss and select the finalcontent for the 4-day itinerary. It is helpful toprovide the students with a published travel guideto use as a model for planning the itinerary. Suchguidebooks are available from bookstores, travelagencies, or offices of tourism. For our Tahitiproject, we obtained a travel guide from TourismNew Zealands Singapore Regional Office.

    9. Ask each group to write the activities and budgetfor one touring day in the itinerary and have thegroup leader type the text on the computer. Youmay want to circulate among the students toanswer questions and to ensure that everyone iscontributing to the group assignment.

    10. When the groups are finished composing theirfirst drafts, have the group leaders send the draftsvia e-mail to the other groups for feedback.

  • 46 TESOL JOURNAL VOL. 11 NO. 3

    Editing and Printing the Itinerary

    11. After the groups receive electronic feedback fromone another and revise their texts (each groupusually writes three drafts) to correct grammarmistakes and clarify content, have them submittheir final drafts electronically to one student,who volunteers to act as class editor-in-chief.Have the editor-in-chief compile each groups 1-day itinerary into a final 4-day itinerary.

    12. Have the students print the itinerary.

    Additional ActivitiesBecause very few people in our area of China have visitedTahiti, we decided to translate our travel itinerary fromEnglish into Chinese and send a copy to a local travelagency, China International Travel Service, Hubei Branch,which is interested in offering trips to Tahiti, in addition toits Australia and New Zealand packages.

    If students have sufficient computer skills, they candesign their own Web pages, using the information theyhave collected, and publish their pages on the Internet.Students can also choose different locales to visit so thatthe class can create several travel itineraries.

    CaveatsIt is important to ensure that each student participate inthe group project. To do this, the teacher should establishrubrics at the beginning of the class to make clear tostudents what will be expected of them and to hold them

    accountable for their participation in the group project.Also, teachers should offer guidance in searching Web sites(e.g., how to avoid sites containing pornographic material)and caution students about offering personal informationabout themselves over the Internet. This guidance canstimulate class discussions about topics such as freedom ofspeech, whether or not children should have unlimitedaccess to the Internet, and whether public libraries andschools should allow censorship.

    ConclusionSearching the Web with a purpose in mind helps studentspractice locating information in this information age.Presentations involving reporting, discussing, writing, andcommenting provide students with opportunities toenhance their oral and written communication skills in thetarget language. Simultaneously, students can also practicereal-world skills, such as making a budget and writing anitinerary. Students appear to be more highly motivatedwith a precise and practical purpose in mind while practic-ing English in the classroom. Through their research andwriting, they prepared a touring itinerary for a real audi-ence, which benefited them as English language learnersand which will benefit Chinese people who would like totravel to Tahiti.

    Author

    Wang Jun is a lecturer in the Foreign Language Institute of WuhanUniversity in China. Her interests include computer-assistedlanguage learning and teaching methodology.

    TESOL Journal invites readers to share tips on successful ESOL techniques,activities, and methods. Please send two hard copies of your tip to:

    Stephen J. StoynoffEditor, TESOL Journal

    Department of English230 Armstrong Hall

    Minnesota State University, MankatoMankato, MN 56001 USA

    For further details on submissions,see the publications submission

    guidelines available athttp://www.tesol.org/