Google's free Gmail service has a handy built-in multilingual spelling checker. While composing a message, the writer can click "Check spelling" and Gmail will does its best to auto-detect the language you are writing. Alternatively, you can click the triangle and select the language you are writing from the 32 languages (including Latin!) listed. This feature is not restricted to checking and correcting the spelling in Gmail, as any text can be pasted into a compose window for a quick spelling check.
Also referred to as Internet Forums and Message Boards, Web Forums, Message Boards, Discussion Boards, Discussion Groups, or simply, Forums.
- Yahoo Groups (official website) - Much more than just a passive BB, Yahoo! Groups has space for photos, archived links and files, built-in voice chat (still buggy), poll function, database function (which can be used as a wiki--in all provides a good environment to build an online community.
- Google Groups (official website)
- phpBB (official website)
- See also
In language classrooms, teachers often ask students to use blogs to have asynchronous interaction with their peers and their teachers.
- Seven things you should know about blogs (pdf)
- Blogger now lets users create blogs in French
- For speakers of French, here is more information on creating your own free blog in French.
Wikis can be used for asynchronous text interaction with the text, with the author and editors of the text, and with other readers of the text using the "discussion" page. Some activities that L2 learners may find worthwhile are:
- Write and revise: L2 students can write in their L2 and have their writing corrected by their teachers and/or fellow L2 learners.
- Read and edit: L2 students can read and edit/correct/revise the text.
- Read and discuss: L2 students can read and discuss the text with authors and other readers using the "discussion" page that is part of all Mediawiki Wikis.
- Translate L1 to L2 and/or L2 to L1: L2 students can take an article in the Wikipedia or other wikis and translate from their L1 to L2 and/or from L2 to L1.
Here is a list of free and paid wiki hosts.
My Language Exchange is a site that aids learners of a second language to find each other and communicate in a safe environment through email, chat, and voice chat exchange options.
- Jabber  is "an open, secure, ad-free alternative to consumer IM services like AIM, ICQ, MSN, and Yahoo (see the IM quickstart). Under the hood, Jabber is a set of streaming XML protocols and technologies that enable any two entities on the Internet to exchange messages, presence, and other structured information in close to real time" (from Jabber website). Due to its interoperability with other IM systems, Jabber has great potential for ATALL.
- Meebo (alhpa version) (official website) is a completely web-based IM client that currently supports a user's accounts on AIM/ICQ, Yahoo! Messenger, Jabber/Google Talk and Microsoft Messenger (MSN). See review.
- IM Federation (official website)
- List of instant messengers
- English Baby On English baby, users can find English lessons that they can listen to, read the transcriptions, and learn slang and idioms. It is also a platform to find people to practice English. Users can join online chat rooms or to find friends and talk through MSN or other software.
- ActiveWorlds is a web-based virtual reality (VR) space where people interact with one other by moving around various worlds in a three dimensional avatar. The communication is done through text chat. People can create virtual homepages or virtual worlds, where you can interact with the artifacts created in the world. For example, you can teleport through a wormhole to get to different countries, ride virtual roller-coaster rides; visit museums, and buildings. To create your own virtual homepage (or virtual worlds), you need to register and pay a monthly fee. It seems as if used wisely and creatively, it can be a great place to chat in a foreign language. Sadly, only PC users can access the interface. An Active Worlds site has been established at Michigan State University that can be used for no cost for language learning (contact Professor Young Zhao: firstname.lastname@example.org).
- Tapped In: "Tapped In is the online workplace of an international community of education professionals. K-12 teachers and librarians, professional development staff, teacher education faculty and students, and researchers engage in professional development programs and informal collaborative activities with colleagues."
- See Purushotma, 2005
- Yahoo! Games in French You need to have a Yahoo membership to sign in and play a game. Users can select the desired game from the list of options, such as card games, chess, etc. There is the synchronous aspect of the games as players can chat with each other in a Java chat format while playing the game. This may allow for L2 students to learn specific vocabulary pertaining to a game.
- For other synchronous Yahoo! Games in a desired L2, one can change the country domain in the URL address (i.e. FR for France, DE for Germany, ES for Spain, etc.) to load the games in the desired language. Click on the links below for examples of Yahoo! Games in German and Spanish.