Using the internet to improve our students' reading skills might pose a dilemma for teachers between choosing authentic or tailored, ELT websites. If in two minds which ones to search for , I would again refer to Grade the task rather than the material strategy for reading as well. A well designed task will allow our learners to deal with authentic texts and websites and benefit from them.
According to the number of computers and the internet connections, the activities can be organized in the following ways:
- classroom with no computer and no internet connection - texts can be printed and then copied for all students to read; although maybe not the cheapest option, at least it brings in the authentic and varied reading materials
- one computer classroom - if connecting the computer to a video beam (or interactive whiteboard where available), texts can be projected allowing greater visibility; another idea is computer rota with students, divided in small groups, taking turns in working on the computers, while other groups do some other, offline reading (or writing, speaking...) tasks
- ICT classroom or lab with computers connected to the internet - authentic texts and web sites can be incorporated in regular teaching and building of reading (and other) skills
Some teachers think that it is impossible to enhance reading skills with young learners by using the internet because they fear how much of the given text the kids will understand and if they will be frustrated by not understanding every single word. Choosing the right websites can go some way towards raising children's comfort levels and these websites should meet the following criteria: simple, short and clearly presented texts, lots of multimedia and visuals - pictures, sounds, video..., a group of non-linguistic data like charts, graphs, lists... or having been written specially with this audience in mind.
Thanks to our two most productive providers of such websites, Khaled and Robert, we need not worry for the next couple of years :)