Email Programs: What are They?

"I know so much more about other people and the world because of e-mail"

- ESL Student



Purpose of Lesson:
  • You should know what e-mail is, the primary advantages of using it, how it can benefit language students, and the guidelines of Netiquette

I. What is e-mail?

Electronic mail (or e-mail) can be defined as "the exchange of computer-stored messages by telecommunicatons" ( Inc., 1998). These messages, usually in text form, are sent from one computer via telephone lines. When you send a message, it usually is stored on a remote computer until the receiver goes online and checks his or her mail.

II. What are the advantages of e-mail over other forms of communication?

There are three main advantages: it's cheap, it's fast, it's conveniet.

Compared with the cost of a phone call, a fax, or regular mail (snail mail), you will save money. Some e-mail software programs are even free, and you can even sign up with free e-mail services like Hotmail and Yahoo Mail. Next, you can't beat the speed of e-mail. Why wait days or weeks for your mail to arrive when you can send a message in seconds? Finally, you can write and send messages easily to one person or a hundred at one time. In addition, you can send graphics, pictures, files, and even movies via e-mail.

III. In what ways can e-mail help language teachers and students?

Here are some ways it can benefit you:

  • helps you make friends with others from around the world;
  • provides a way for you to share your ideas with others;
  • makes talking with other students and teachers about language and culture a reality;
  • gives you the opportunity to subscribe to online discussion and mailing lists of your interest;
  • allows you to turn in homework assignments electronically.

IV. What are the rules for using e-mail?

There are some basic guidelines often called "Netiquette" that should be followed when writing, sending, and responding to e-mail messages. You should follow these rules carefully.

  1. Remember that the people receiving your message are human beings with feelings. Repect them. Don't do anything that will hurt people's feelings or will make them angry;
  2. Think about what you are writing; think again before you send. You can't take back a message once it is sent;
  3. Make sure your messages are very clear, concise, and to the point;
  4. DON'T WRITE MESSAGES IN ALL CAPITAL LETTERS LIKE THIS. This means that you are "shouting" at the other person;
  5. Don't "flame" your reader. This means sending angry messages to others. If someone sends you such messages, it's always better to just ignore the person than to send another angry message back.
  6. Avoid "spamming." This means sending unwanted messages to others.
  7. Don't send private messages that were sent to you to other people without the original author's permission.
  8. Remember that humor is often difficult to explain in written messages. Add "smilies" :-) to your messages if your reader knows about them.
  9. Never, without good reason, give out your telephone number, address, birthdate, credit card number, etc. There are plenty of people out there who are waiting to use this information unlawfully.

V. What are the parts of an e-mail address?

E-mail addresses often have three parts: (1) the user name, (2) the host or domain name, and (3) the type of domain. Look at this example:

The first part, rsmith, is the username which indentifies the owner of the e-mail account. (Sometimes, a username is made of the person's first initial and last name.) The next part, topcomputers, is the host or domain name of the mail server where the person's mailbox is located. The final part, .com, identifies the type of domain (e.g., .com for commercial sites, .edu for educational institutions, .org for non-profit groups, etc.). In some cases, instead of the extension .com, you might see a two-letter country extension like .jp for Japan, .fr for France, or .ru for Russia. An example for Italy might be

Now compare the e-mail address above the the company's Web site ( The domain name is the same.

VI. How do you set up an e-mail account?

In our class, I will demonstrate how to using an e-mail account with a free service called Hotmail to set up e-mail accounts. With this type of an account, you can use it anywhere in the world as long as you have access to the Internet.

Vocabulary words from this Unit




Copyright © 1998 - 2005 by Randall S. Davis, All rights reserved.