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Onderstaand interview met Eva Easton is ruim vijf jaar oud. Desondanks is het nog interessant om te lezen. Zij beschrijft het ontstaan van haar eigen website http://eleaston.com/ en hoe ze is begonnen met het online lesgeven. Ze vezamelde  materiaal voor veel talen, soms omdat ze die zelf wilde leren. Haar verzameling is gigantisch met veel audio. Ze houdt haar website nog dagelijks bij. Ze organiseert haar talen naar vaardigheid van lezen, schrijven, luisteren en spreken.  Dit is haar aanbod voor elke taalleerder gratis te gebruiken.

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OTLN Staff
April, 2000

Two mice sat in their hole watching Cat lurk outside. "I know how to make Cat go away," said the first mouse. "How?" the second mouse asked in surprise. "Watch! Bow, wow!!!" barked the first mouse.  Peering through their hole in the wall, they saw Cat running away in fear. "Ah, see the benefit of knowing another language!"

Click on the link from my name, and youíll know why we found this such a great welcome to the Eva L. Eastonís website at http://eleaston.com/. This language learning destination is fascinating, rich, and even entertaining for students and teachers, alike. We corresponded with Eva L. Easton, an ESL teacher of speech & pronunciation at Bergen Community College in Paramus, New Jersey, about her background, the contents of her site, and the motivation behind its creation.

OTLNewsletter: In terms of your personal background how long have you been teaching languages, how did you get
into it?

Eva L. Easton: I've been a language learner all my life, and an ESL teacher for almost 20 years. I was born in Austria, grew up in a multilingual home in the U.S., and have had the travel itch for 30 years, with a particular interest in Eastern Europe. 

OTLN:   While there is a lot of focus on your site about learning and teaching English online, there are also significant sections to links for other languages as well.  What would you say the focus of your site is?

ELE: My site is basically an autobiography.  It's a personal site which started as a place to collect language materials in English for my ESL/EFL students, and in other languages for myself.  I use the site every day for myself and my students.  As such, the focus of the site is equally divided between the two elements.

OTLN: Why a website? What inspired and pushed you?

ELE: One Saturday morning in November 1997, I was at the computer in my home office, staring at the screen.  My husband was standing over my shoulder, watching as I hesitated.  "Click already!" he said.  "Send the letter off.  Say 'yes'." I hesitated, hesitated again, but finally hit the return button and off went the note.  A week earlier there had been an e-mail with the opportunity to teach English conversation online. The trick was that I wasn't exactly a savvy computer nerd, so I had no clue how I was going to do this.  But I wanted it!   Again I looked over my shoulder at my husband, and this time I chuckled, "Now what are we gonna do?"  Well, we did figure it out.  It was a learn-as-you go proposition -- a great experience in maneuvering through new technology.  What we did was sit down at the computer, search the net, and figure out what tools to use to work with students online.   A week later, a class roster came in the e-mail: 20+ students from all over the world.

The reason this story is important is that one of the students in that first class happened to be a Microsoft trainer in Poland.  From thousands of miles away, she helped me with the technology when I needed it.  One day she asked me to edit a webpage she wanted to put up, and after we finished the job, she suggested that I start a website of my own. From that germ of an idea, the website one sees today was born.  A website:  what a good idea!  I could put up materials for my online students.  Well then, why not find materials for myself as well?  I started searching for German and Russian pages online.  And then, since it was going to be simply a personal website for my own use, why not add a page of travel planning information?  No more brochures, tour books, lost addresses and phone numbers all over my desk.   I arranged the language site according to how I categorize my own teaching materials:  reading, writing, speaking, listening to a language.  And I arranged the travel pages based on how I plan a trip.

Next thing I knew, I was receiving e-mails from literally all over the world. People were commenting on the site and asking for help finding things online. In answering some of the requests, I realized how much I was learning, and it was off to the races. The site has been up since spring 1998. There's a host of things I want to do, with a search engine at the top of the list.
 
OTLN:  So in what ways do you incorporate the Internet into your teaching?

ELE: I started by teaching English conversation online.  Being online has been very useful in my speech & pronunciation classes.  I've created my own pronunciation materials (no one else would let me sing!).  With 15-16 students per class, the Internet gives students individual audio practice listening to the teacher's voice, and doing audio quizzes.  I need to spend very little class time on explanations of pronunciation patterns. The class as a group figures out a pronunciation pattern, using the "pattern" & "examples" pages of a unit.  Then they practice online, as I walk the room, answer questions, and work with students individually.  We use class time more productively. Plus, students will sing along with the computer more readily than with the class. :-)

Myself, I use the great quiz maker sites to make class materials.  "Quizzes" is the most popular page on the site, which is understandable; busy teachers can always use help.  The tests and quizzes that people have put online really save us teachers a lot of time.

OTLN: Do  you feel the site is more geared towards teachers than learners?

ELE: Yes, the site is more targeted for teachers, who seem to have no trouble understanding the structure.  As a result, there aren't any explanations as to how to use the site, the kind of thing one would need if the site were focused toward learners.    My students are college age or older, so the materials I search out are geared for adults.   If I find useful child-oriented sites, I include them but I don't have any training or experience with younger learners.

OTLN:  How would you characterize the resources you include on your site.

ELE: The site consists of two types of items. First,there are other people's materials: links to language sites from around the world that teachers and others have put online.  If my site is useful, it's because there are so many language professionals who have produced quality materials and made them available to us.

I get ideas of what's "out there" from two sources: teacher mail lists, which are a wealth of information about what's going in the FL field  (for example, FLTEACH:  http://www.cortland.edu/flteach/), and international, multilingual search engines (for example, Search Engine Colossus:  http://www.searchenginecolossus.com/).

The second category of resources is materials I've created: Pages devoted to Pronunciation, which consist of the materials that I have created for my own speech and pronunciation students.  I like to sing and that's why there are songs for pronunciation practice.  Anyway, as it says at the top of the "songs" page, this is for English teachers who like to sing, not just for those who can sing.

Then there is also the Russian-English Lexis The "Recognizability Factor" as a Tool  for Teaching ESL to Russian-Speaking Adults  - a study of words which Russian and English have in common) among other materials. I update the links almost daily.  The only drawback of working alone is that, if something goes wrong, there's only one person I can complain to -- myself. 

OTLN: Thank you for such an informative interview! 

ELE: Thank you for the chance to talk about my work.  This interview offers an opportunity to thank all the language experts from whom I learn so much.  

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© John DaniŽls