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Language Learning Techniques Implemented through Word Processing

Grammar-based exercise templates for becoming proficient with Word Processing

Here are some ideas for teaching grammar and word processing at the same time. The idea is to teach word processing "on the side" while teaching grammar "up front". Each exercise forces students to use a different word processing skill. (The following exercises are the creation of Vance Stevens, from an idea spawned by Tom Cobb.)

Purpose: Position cursor, insert text

Directions: Find where the word is missing and write it in. Use "is" or "are"

  1. There a book on the table.
  2. My friend's car blue.
  3. Who you?

Directions: The ending has been left off of each of the verbs in these sentences. Place the cursor after the verb with the mistake and add the correct ending.

  1. Col. Ahmad know how to fly an airplane.
  2. Why is our teacher shout at us?
  3. I call you yesterday but you weren't in your office.


Purpose: Position cursor, make capital with shift key

Directions: Change the lower case letters to capitals where necessary.

  1. mr. martin, our teacher, works at the mli.
  2. people in the united arab emirates should try to learn some english.
  3. major hamid and i will meet captain obeid at the hilton.


Purpose: Double click a word, cut and paste it to a new position

Directions: One word in each sentence is out of order. Double click on it, cut it, and paste it in its correct position.

  1. Where you will go tonight?
  2. What he is doing with my car keys?
  3. Why they are looking at their books? This is a test!


Purpose: Use of search and replace

Directions: The following message was written by someone you think is a spy. The spy has changed all the vowels to other letters to keep you from reading the secret document. Use Search and Replace to change the incorrect letters back to the 5 vowels (a, e, i, o, and u) so that you can read the message.

Thvs vs fjr my frvznds vn thz zmbxssy. Xs yjq knjw, V xm x spy vn thvs cjqntry. V hxvz dvscjvzrzd sjmz vzry tjp szcrzt vnfjrmxtvjn. V xm pxssvng vt jn tj yjq vn thvs mzssxgz. V hxvz chxngzd sjmz jf thz lzttzrs vn thz mzssxgz sj thxt nj jnz wvll knjw thxt V xm x spy. Vn thvs wxy, thzy wvll njt bz xblz tj rzxd my szcrzt mzssxgz. V xm sqrz thxt thzrz vs nj jnz clzvzr znjqgh tj bz xblz tj rzxd thvs szcrzt mzssxgz.


Purpose: To use cut and paste

Directions: Here is a conversation. Two of the sentences have been swapped. Use cut and paste twice to return the sentences to their correct position.

Laura Enders Jim Blake! What a surprise!
Jim Blake I don't believe it. What are you doing here in Seattle?
Laura Oh, I just spent a few days with my parents. Now I'm on my way back to Chicago.
Jim How did you know?
Laura It sure has. Say, I hear you started your own computer business.
Jim Gee, it's been a long time.
Laura My mother. She keeps track of all my old friends.


Low-tech and Medium-Tech Activities with Word Processing

The following uses of word processing in CALL are provided by Claire Bradin, in her words:

Note: Several of the low-tech activities are described in a very useful book: Hardisty, David, and Scott Windeatt. (1989). CALL. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Low-Tech Activities:

Editing: 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:

"Famous People": Have text with biography of a famous person


"Cross class Interviews" (Mixed level);


Narrative and descriptive writing




Application Letter


Letter of complaint


Dialog (Elementary level)


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


Medium-Tech Activities:

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 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.

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.

A reader reacts -

I've been experimenting with some of your very useful exercises using a word processor to teach EFL writing. I find that there is a problem at the input stage - for me anyway! For example, if teachers give the students a handout requiring them to type in jumbled sentences, then reorder them using Cut and Paste, the more able students will reorder as they type, and avoid the Cut and Paste stage.

This can be overcome if the teacher copies the exercise onto the students' disks before the lesson. It sounds time consuming, but with Windows Explorer it takes less than a minute to copy 20 files. A different technique could be to give the students the hand out and actually require them to reorder as they type, then give them another exercise requiring Cut and Paste, just what I'm not sure!

I have managed to introduce a greater amount of variety can be introduced by having students Cut and Paste (plus other operations) using a different method each time, i.e. from the Menu. from the icons, using the Alt keys to access the Menu, and lastly using the Shortcut Ctrl key. So really we have Cut and Paste X 4.

"Mr. Mike", from Batelco in Bahrain, Dec. 1999

Fernanda from Webheads in Action writes, July 2003

If you perform a search in google with for example 'class activities +word processor' you'll find some sites where you can select some interesting activities.

for example:

I can think of some basic activities like inserting punctuation and layout in a letter; adding adjectives and adverbs to a text to make a description or narrative richer (you can even add instructions or clues, like: the man entered the room [what was the man like?])

You can ask them to use the thesaurus and replace words... .... create an outline...

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Last updated: July 13, 2003 in Hot Metal Pro 6.0