Word Processing-based Activities
for a Language Class

Claire Bradin Siskin


Diana Satin & Steve Quann

Dawn E. Pettit

Activities (mine)


Hardisty and Windeatt

Most of these activities can be carried out on very old computers.

Provide text (possibly with students' own errors); students work in groups to revise

Sentence completion
Give students open-ended sentences or cloze exercise to complete

Picture identification (Low level)
Paste in a picture with numbers on various objects; students type in names of objects which corrrespond to the numbers

Description of a picture
Students copy and paste in a picture; write a paragraph describing it

Model paragraph
Group changes the details so that the description matches someone in the class.
Delete name -- give the text a code; distribute the text among the students
Have them guess who the descriptions are of.

"Famous People"
Have text with biography of a famous person
Prewriting: Write name -- give a minute to write a response
Discuss responses. Give each pair or group of students a part of the biography
Students compose a short summary; they type it into the computer
Students record summaries into a tape recorder in chronological order
Tape serves as a radio program

"Cross class Interviews" (Mixed level)
Lower level: write basic interview questions; Practice asking one another
Visit advanced class
Pairs: Lower level students interview upper level
Lower level students go to computer lab; write profile of advanced students
Class discussion: write general description of other class
Advanced class reads -- extends the description & revises it; lower level reads

Narrative and descriptive writing
Teacher dictates the first part of a story
Students finish it
Each group -- looks at text of the other groups
Each group has a different task: accuracy, organization, interest, vocabulary

One text: mixture of formal and informal expressions
1/2 class changes to formal style
1/2 class changes to informal
Compare the 2 letters
Make a list of the features of each

Application Letter
One team applies for a job; other team: discusses, accepts or rejects, writes letter of reply

Letter of complaint
One team: Letter of complaint -- Other team: Letter of apology in response

Dialog (Elementary level)
Give text of a dialog; groups use cut-and-paste to put sentences in the right order
Each group acts out its version of the dialog; Class can compare; decide on the best one
If time: write continuation of the dialog

Student newsletter
Students do interviews, surveys; submit ariticles, drawings, etc.

From Hardisty, D., and S. Windeatt. (1989). CALL. Oxford: Oxford University Press.



Search and replace function
Instructor uses this function to search for and replace all instances of a part of speech, such as articles or possessive pronouns. The students have to replace them.

Person substitution
In a first-person narrative, replace all first person nouns with ***. Learners have to re-write the text as a third-person narrarive, making all necessary changes.

Nonsense words
Type nonsense words and see what feedback is provided by the spell checker.

From Higgins, J. (1995). Computers and English Language Learning. Oxford: Intellect.



See Vance Stevens' "Language Learning Techniques Implemented through Word Processing" at http://www.vancestevens.com/wordproc.htm



Several good activities are described in Boswood, T. (Ed.) (1997). New Ways of Using Computers in Language Teaching. Alexandria: TESOL.



Authoring a CALL Task in a Wordprocessing Program

See http://privatewww.essex.ac.uk/~scholp/callcreate.htm#wp


Jenny Wilkes

Here are a few ideas that make use of a word processor in ways that can have some advantage over paper based exercises:

Use of cut & paste for sequencing (instructions, paragraphs)

Use of cut & paste or copy & paste to put missing phrases (e.g that include conjunctions) into text

Use of bold, italics &/or underline to identify adjectives, past tense verbs - whatever one is teaching

Use of two different colours perhaps to identify 2 different tenses e.g present simple & present continuous in text presented to students &/or in writing they produce


Diana Satin & Steve Quann

"Teaching ESOL Using Word Processing: A Communicative Approach"



Dawn E. Pettit

In a computer lab, set up in a fashion where students can perform a round-robin word processing activity. The teacher gives the student the first sentence to type.

Ex. The first day of school started in the most unusual way.

Then students add one sentence on to that story starter. The teacher allows about two minutes. Then the students move one computer (either clock wise or counter clock wise) and read what that student wrote, write a sentence to continue that story, and if time proofread all the sentences.

The activity continues until the student returns to her or his original seat. Then the student wraps up the story and shares it with the class.

Students work in groups to prepare the writing for publishing. Each student reads another's story and highlights any parts that are misspelled in red, that are confusing in yellow, and that are missing in purple. Then the student corrects his or her story until it is suitable for publishing.


Medium-Tech Activities (mine):

It is possible to record sounds and paste Quicktime movies into a document created with a fairly recent word processor (for example, Microsoft Word 5.1a or Word 6 on a Macintosh or its equivalent on DOS/Windows). For DOS/Windows computers, it is necessary to have a sound card. For the recording exercise, a microphone is necessary. See John Higgins article "Talking Documents" at http://www.tesl-ej.org/wordpress/issues/volume1/ej02/ej02int

Listen and type
Teacher records questions; students listen and type their answers

Listen and record
Teacher records questions; students listen and record answers

Listening comprehension
Teacher records questions; students listen, choose answers, and discuss their answers

Oral interviews
Students record questions into a file and exchange files. The next student records the answers.

Describe a movie
Teacher pastes a QuickTime movie into a word processed document. Students watch and type a description

Watch movie -- Answer questions
Teacher prepares file with pre-viewiing questions, followed by a Quicktime movie. Students watch and answer the questions.

Watch movie and discuss
Same as above, except that students watch the movie as a group and discuss their answers.



If you would like to contribute an activity to this page, please e-mail it to Claire Bradin Siskin. Your name will be included.


Copyright 1999 Claire Bradin Siskin. Permission is granted to copy and distribute this text for educational non-profit use only. This text may not be mirrored (copied onto another website) without my permission.


Last revised: February 22, 2014

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