I believe that one of the great things concerning the advent of technologies is that it really allows both the students and the teachers to save a great deal of time, especially for research purposes. As mentioned on this site, having the necessary tools to search information on the Internet has become necessary, so why not teach it at school in the ESL class? I really cannot believe we could live without this great tool! Everything is so easy to find now! Though it is a tool that I could never live without anymore, the use of it in the ESL classroom requires some students’ preparation.
One of the difficulties I had with using the Internet for research in the classroom is that the younger students cannot necessarily always make the difference between being inspired from the information found on the Internet, and copying the information word by word without mentioning the source. I experienced such a problem during my last practicum. I had asked the students to write an information text on an exotic animal. I had given them guidelines such as length, and what I wanted to know about the animal (habitat, diet, etc.). When they came back with their homework, I noticed that their written English was perfect. I typed some of their sentences on the net, and could find the entire texts in less then 5 seconds (which is another great thing about having access to the Internet). Following that class, I made a speech on plagiarism. Since I did not know how to explain plagiarism to them in a clear manner, I decided to provide them with examples and to have them decide if it was plagiarism or no. Then, I asked those who plagiarized (the great majority) to write their texts again for the following week.
Guidelines on how to use the Internet, as well as information on sources and plagiarism can be found here. Also mentioned on this site, along with a list of pros and cons for using the Internet in the classroom, is how being able to recognize good information from bad information makes students more responsible. Though students needs to be told how to use the information, I really find that having access to Internet in the classroom is a great way for teachers and students to easily get the information needed.