The Internet TESL Journal

A Review of
Dave Sperling's Internet Activity Workbook
Published by Prentice Hall Regents ISBN 0-13-010325-X, 1999

15 introductory pages +143 pages = 158 total pages

Reviewed by Letitia Bradley

Dave Sperling's Internet Activity Workbook and its coordinated web site provide students with useful activites for learning English as a Second Language. It is a valuable and welcomed resource for teachers and students alike.

Coordinated with the workbook is a companion web site that gives current links to web sites which help the student to complete the thirty theme-based activities. The workbook and its web site can be used as an Internet supplement to ESL texts and classes. The teacher would also be able to provide additional links on a class or personal home page. The workbook and web site also can be used by students to improve English language skills independently.

The workbook opens with a brief message to the teacher. Then, with a message to the students, Sperling introduces details of searching the web, sending and receiving e-mail, using 'smileys', following 'netiquette' and understanding other Internet issues. To familiarize the students with the methods, Unit 2 of the companion Web site is used to demonstrate how to use the program.

To use the program, the student goes to the main page of the web site, pulls down the scrolling menu, finds the desired unit and clicks the image that says "Begin". From there, the CGI script directs the student to a frameset with navigation buttons and a listing of the objectives of the unit. Clicking the link at the bottom of this page displays the page for the unit. This page displays the four links for the four activities of the unit.

Unit one is entitled First Meeting. In the first activity, the student is helped to locate a key pal (an Internet pen pal) to communicate with by e-mail. The workbook provides three questions for students to ask their key pals and a space for writing the answers. Activities two, three and four ask students to find information. Follow up activities in this unit require students to write five new vocabulary words as well as provide an opportunity to post thoughts on the bulletin board of the companion web site

A Unit from the Book

Let's look at Unit 2 in the book. The theme is amusement parks.

Appendix 1:

A Description of the "How to Use This Program" Section of the Book

There is a screen shot from the companion web site for Unit 2. It shows a 2-part frame set, consisting of a page on the left and a page on the right.

Appendix 2

This is what Dave Sperling has written in the workbook to the teacher and about how to use the program. Reprinted with permission from Prentice Hall Regents.

To the Teacher

Please don't be afraid of this book! I often meet teachers who are still afraid of computers and the Internet, so I'd like to share a secret with you. The Internet is a fun, exciting, and extremely powerful learning tool for you and your students. and you'll find that it's easy to use! I made this discovery back in 1995 when I reluctantly (yes, I said reluctantly!) introduced my ESL students at California State University, Northridge, to the Internet. There, I taught them the basics of using e-mail and creating Web pages. What were the results?

My students found the Internet fun and "cool." My students were thrilled to share their creativity with the entire world. My students increased their reading and vocabulary in English because they were exploring the World Wide Web and discovering material that interested them. My students were writing e-mail messages in English every day My students were meeting and communicating with other students from around the world. My students were becoming more motivated and excited about learning English. My students were actually coming to class early! The results were amazing. I was hooked, my students were hooked, and I think you and your students will be too.

This program has two components which are used together: Dave Sperling's Internet Activity Workbook and the companion Web site. The workbook is divided into 30 theme-based chapters, which can be used in any order. The companion Web site, at the URL above, provided links to the Web pages needed to complete the activities in the workbook. It guides the students through the Internet as they explore a variety of topics and learn English.

Since the themes in this book are featured in most ESL textbooks, Dave Sperling's Internet Activity Workbook makes a great supplement. I think you'll find it flexible, fun, and easy to use. Of course, I am always open to your feedback and suggestions, and would love to hear about your experiences using this workbook and the companion web site. You can always e-mail me at sperling@ eslcafe. com.

By choosing this book, you should consider yourself an ESL/EFL Internet pioneer!

How to Use This Program


There are two parts to this program: 1. Dave Sperling's Internet Activity Workbook 2. The companion Web site at

Student Directions

In the first chapter, you will meet and begin corresponding with a key pal. Go to the Key Pal Page on the companion Web site and follow the directions to find a key pal. You will be writing to this person as you go through the chapters in this workbook. If you key pal stops writing to you, don't worry. You can always go back to the Key Pal Page to find another key pal.

The chapters in the book have a variety of activities:

Key Pal Interchange.

Exchange e-mail messages with your key pal. then write your key pal's responses in your workbook.

Other Activities.

Go to the companion Web site and select the appropriate chapter. Search the Web or information and write it in your workbook. Then participate in a:

Follow Up. Each chapter also has a section for:

At the end of the book, you can solve a URL Puzzle! Write the circled letter from each chapter's URL Puzzle Clue in the URL Puzzle on page 141 of your workbook. When you think you have solved the puzzle, go to the URL Puzzle Page on the companion Web site and follow the directions. If you answer is correct, you will gain access to a secret Web site!

Teacher Forum

Each chapter's Web page has a link to a Teacher Forum. On this bulletin board, teachers can post messages about the activities and share ideas with other teachers.

*You must have a computer with live Internet and World Wide Web access.

Appendix 3

The Chapters (Units)

  1. First Meeting
  2. Amusement Parks
  3. Animals
  4. Architecture
  5. Art
  6. Astrology
  7. Cities
  8. Countries
  9. Crime
  10. Culture
  11. Education
  12. Family and Marriage
  13. Food
  14. Games
  15. Geography
  16. Health
  17. History
  18. Holidays
  19. Literature
  20. Money
  21. Movies
  22. Music
  23. News
  24. People
  25. Science
  26. Sports
  27. Transportation
  28. Travel
  29. Weather
  30. Work

Related Links

The Internet TESL Journal, Vol. V, No. 3, March 1999