3 WebQuests to Engage Your ELLs With Content!

Tired of fighting against the current? Students love their phones and want to engage in online activity, so why not put those cellphones to good use? WebQuests have proven to be highly effective to:

  • Engage students with content
  • Improve reading comprehension
  • Improve reading skills, such as skimming and scanning
  • Develop information-literacy skills
  • Develop computer-literacy skills
  • Develop problem-solving skills
  • Develop ability to work in teams

Web Quests, originally designed by Bernie Dodge in 1995 (webquest.org), consist of  six building blocks (Starr, 2000):

  1. Introduction – to orient and capture the student’s interest.
  2. Task – to describe the objectives and expectations of the activity.
  3. Process – to describe the strategies required to perform the activity.
  4. Resources – websites students will visit to perform the activity.
  5. Evaluation – to measure the results of the activity.
  6. Conclusion – to wrap up and encourage reflection on activity.

Web Quests work with every level of proficiency, and work well as pre- and postactivities to any topic you are covering in class. They are easy to design—all you need is Microsoft Word and access to the web on a tablet, computer, or cellphone. I like to pair my students to encourage communication and collaboration—discussing findings and sharing information. Below you will find three examples of WebQuests that I have designed to use with elementary, intermediate, and advanced learners. Click on the titles of the WebQuests to download the activity.

WebQuest #1: Getting to Know Your Campus (.docx)
Elementary level

Since I teach in a pre-university intensive English program and most of my students are new to the campus, I like to use this WebQuest to provide valuable information about our campus and vocabulary related to studying in a university environment. All they have to do is visit our school’s website.

WebQuest #2: Healthy Eating and Obesity (.docx)
Intermediate level

Discussing health-related topics? Food and diet are commonly studied topics in the ESL classroom as they provide insights to information related to healthy eating, society, and health-related issues. Next time, try a WebQuest on Healthy Eating and Obesity which focuses students on important information related to calorie intake and the overall effect of consuming a lot of fast food.

WebQuest #3: Companies and Ethics (.docx)
Advanced level

From time to time, some companies get themselves into a bit of hot water because they have broken some ethical rule or even the law. How ethical are the companies you buy from? In groups, get students to select a Fortune 500 company and research past scandals, in addition to the company’s mission and values statements. Get them to draw conclusions based on their findings.

Want to find out more? Read these sources to help you implement Web Quests with your learners!




About Sherry Blok

Sherry Blok
Sherry Blok is the assistant director of programs at the Centre for Continuing Education, Concordia University. Montreal, Canada. She holds a master’s degree in second language education from McGill University and has more than 20 years of experience as an ESL lecturer in the intensive English program at Concordia University. She received the TESOL Teacher of the Year Award in 2015 and has presented nationally and internationally on topics related to English for academic purposes, global citizenship education, assessment, and teacher feedback.
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