The Language Teacher Online 21.5: Classroom Perspectives on the Internet (cont'd.)

To use Internet Relay Chat, you need to connect to a special computer (known as an "IRC server"). A list of IRC servers is available at [Expired Link]. There are at least sixteen IRC servers in Japan. The oldest is located at at port 6667 (Rose, 1995). After connecting to this server, type /#irchelp for online guidance.

Some servers are only active during certain times of the day. Moreover, different IRC servers have slightly different configurations, so incompatibility problems with some IRC software may arise. Before connecting to an IRC server, it is wise to find out what software the IRC server uses, when it is up, and what the rules are. Most large servers have this information posted on their Web pages.

A good example of IRC use for children and young teens is the Kidlink Project [Expired Link]. Shuji Ozeki of Chubu University has also started using IRC with his EFL students. For details about his project, the best thing to is join a jaltchat IRC conference. These conferences are held periodically and are announced in advance on jaltcall.

If your computer has a microphone and a speaker, you can converse via a program such as Quarterdeck Web Talk. Those with digital video cameras might also consider using programs such as CU-See-Me. Recently Schoolnet Japan, a group of educators interested in technology, established a CU-See-Me project between high schools in Japan, Asia, North America, and Europe. Masako Furui, the project leader, remarked, "The time zone difference was a problem with some schools, but having students see each other as they talked was positive." A description of their program is available at [Inactive link].

Some programs now offer actual video/voice contact, or "Internet teleconferencing," enabling users to bypass the keyboard. Information about these programs is available at [Inactive link].


This article has shown some of ways the Internet is entering classrooms in Japan. Despite some promising examples of this technology, only a small percentage of classrooms today have online access (WIDE Project,1996). The cost of wiring schools and the lack of widespread teacher computer literacy are two obstacles yet to be surmounted. In addition, more extensive research about the benefits of Internet connectivity is also needed, since much of the hype about the Internet has yet to be substantiated.

For further classroom ideas about Internet use, I recommend Steen's "Teaching with the Internet: Putting Teachers before Technology" (1997). The final article in this series mentions more resources.


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Frizler, K. (1995). The Internet as an educational tool in ESOL writing instruction. Retrieved April 1, 1007 from [Expired URL]

Fujita, M. (1996). Intaanetto wo tsukatta jugyou. [Online classrooms]. Yunikoon Jaanaru [Unicorn Journal]. Tokyo: Buneidou Press. (No. 34, pp. 10-13).

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Ray, R. (1995). Rodney Ray's Internet based project. Available: http// [Expired URL]. (Dec. 1996.)

Robb, T. (1996). E-mail key pals for language fluency. Available: [Expired URL]. (Dec. 1996.)

Roffey, C. (1995). Electronic books: Fad or future? Learning. 23(6). 88-90.

Rose, H. (1995). IRC-FAQ. (Ver. 1.53). Available: [Expired URL] (Dec. 1996.)

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Sanders, G. (1995). Culture Magazine. Available: (Dec. 1996.) [Inactive Link].

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