Pros and Cons of the Internet

For the ESL learner and teacher, the Internet provides many benefits:

  • Easy and speedy access to free, diverse, and high quality ESL materials (provided by a global ESL community)
  • Materials that can be downloaded, edited, modified, and printed
  • Can find answers to almost any (practical) question and materials on almost any subject
  • Participate in a shared community of ESL learners and educators

There are some limitations however:

  • Some materials are of poor quality (browse wisely)
  • Regional variations and dialects (for instance, you might want to double check that the exercise you are using follows Canadian spelling rules)
  • Endless commercial sink holes
  • Manage your time wisely as the hours can flyby


Vision Problems  

Having problems reading the small text on some websites?

You can make this text larger (or smaller) by changing your browser options. For Internet Explorer users, click on the ‘View’ menu (located near the top left of your screen) and move down the menu to ‘Text Size’. Here you can choose to make your text larger or smaller.

Still didn’t work?

If the text remained the same size, then you’ll need to change some further options.

  1. Go to the menu ‘Tools’ (at the top of the browser) and click on ‘Internet Options.’ A small box called ‘Internet Options’ will then appear.
  2. Click on the ‘Accessibility’ button located near the bottom right of this box. An additional box called ‘Accessibility’ will appear.
  3. In the first section (‘Formatting’), click on the following: ‘Ignore font sizes specified on Web pages’. A checkmark should appear in the small box.
  4. Click the ‘OK’ button at the bottom of the ‘Accessibility’ box. This will save the changes and close the box.
  5. Finally, click on the ‘OK’ button at the bottom of the ‘Internet Options’ box. This will close the box.
  6. Now, you should be able to change the text size at will using the ‘View’ menu and ‘Text Size’ as described previously.

If required, you can undo these changes by following the same steps.


Search engines (e.g., google) and directories (e.g., Yahoo) allow you to search the Internet for English and ESL materials. Use keywords like ESL, grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation, and idioms, or, if you are looking for thematic materials, type in the theme or topic name (e.g., hockey rules, etiquette, etc.).

Word of caution: although helpful, these search engines and directories still cast a narrow net. Thus, don’t give up if you can’t find a resource here.

Often the best way to find new materials is through other sites. Most sites include links lists or their own directories. One excellent example is the The Internet TESL Journal.

Finally, remember to always bookmark when you find a new and helpful site. There is nothing more frustrating than finding and then loosing an excellent resource.


Fortunately, most ESL websites are in a simple, text format, which is printer friendly or at least cut-n-paste friendly.


If a site’s content is not easily printed, you may have to cut-n-paste the material into a text editor like MS Word or WordPerfect. In addition, once in an editor, the content can be easily edited, rearranged, or modified.

  • With your mouse, highlight the text you want and copy (using a right-click on the mouse or the edit menu.)
  • Move to your text editor and paste into a new, blank documents (note: images can also be copied using this method)Hint: Depending on your editor, you can change the format of the text you are pasting. Look under the edit menu for additional paste options.


Other File Types

Some sites will include documents or materials in other file formats. For the most part if you are using a computer with Windows 98 or beyond you should be able to use these files without additional software.

Extension File Type Application
.doc text MSWord
.pdf text Acrobat Reader (not standard)
.wav audio Windows Media Player, etc.
.mpeg video Windows Media Player, etc.
.ra, .ram audio/video Real Audio
.jpeg image (pictures) web browser or text editor
.gif image (graphics) web browser or text editor