Events > IATEFL Conference 2004, Liverpool, 16-17 April > page 5

Saturday 17 April

The Internet and Business English – an up-date

Screen display: 'The Internet and Business English - an up-date' by Barney Barrett Barney Barrett giving talk

Barney Barrett (Summertown Publishing, England)

Report by Geoff Taylor, Computer SIG Committee member


Barney's talk was described as an update and promotion for a published book (he pointed out that the book's companion website already provided a high level of future-proofing). However, the talk stands very well by itself as a guide to Business English/ESP resources on the World Wide Web.

1.Searching the Web

Barney gave valuable tips for using Google () and some meta-search engines.

Google News Search ()

When searching for specific news stories, for example, the latest on the oil and gas industry, as opposed to the huge number of general hits the basic Google search facility gives, the Google News Search service focusses on online newspapers. Google News UK (news/en/uk/main.html) prioritizes UK newspapers.

Google Glossary (help/features.html#definitions)

This service searches online glossaries. It is keyed in simply by putting "define: keyword", where keyword is the word you want defined, into the search field

Google linked items

To search for grammatically linked items – e.g. for "price" >> price, prices, pricing – put "~" followed by the keyword into the search field, e.g. "~price"

Google personalised

This service maintains a personal profile of topics, e.g. TEFL, TESL, EFL, ESL chosen by the user (and stored as cookies on the hard drive). A slider control permits the user to determine how much the personal preferences should influence the results. (I haven't actually managed to find this service yet.)

Meta-search engines

Barney described some useful facilities available in some meta-search engines, which get their results by searching other search engines and often have extra useful features, including:

2.QuickFinder learner dictionaries

Barney recommended learner dictionaries that offer a word "quickfind" facility that enables users to get instant access to key dictionary facilities while viewing text in a Web browser or other compatible application, e.g. MS Office. Key information about any word the user lets the mouse linger on may be displayed in a small window on the desktop.

Dictionaries with this feature included:

3.Favourite ESP websites

Barney recommended some particular websites for ESP and business English:

4.Email newsletters

Barney explained that subscriptions to email newsletters can be very useful for ESP/business English teachers. Recommended newsletters included:

5.Discussion Forums

Barney recommended various forums for English language teachers, including:

6.Continuing to learn

Barney recommended handing out a page of links to useful websites at the end of a course. If saved as an editable (Word) document, it can be updated as needed, and personalised for individual students.

He said that information on all the material discussed, and more, could be downloaded from the Summertown Publishing website ()


This talk, more or less independently of the book being promoted, provided a convenient guide to a good range of Web-based Business-oriented and general English resources, and so was very useful not only for the Business English teacher, but also the general English teacher.

In keeping with the aim of providing an update to what was in any case a relatively recent publication, many of the points made were novel, with interesting tips even for experienced 'Webheads'. In addition, by maintaining a brisk pace, Barney was able to cover a lot of ground, and in enough detail to give a pretty good idea of the value of the resources and how to use them. In consequence, the talk was suitable for teachers with less wide-ranging experience of Web-based resources, and those with lots of experience.

The talk was well-researched, clearly structured and succinctly presented. The availability of handouts with short clear descriptions and full links to the on-line material discussed was very welcome, permitting attendees to follow up the recommendations of material subsequently at their leisure.

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