SL-Lists: International EFL/ESL Email Student Discussion Lists

Introducing the EFL/ESL Student Lists

The Student Lists were established in February 1994 to provide a forum for cross-cultural discussion and writing practice for college, university and adult students in English language programs around the world. There are currently ten student lists, but more may be added as the demand for them becomes evident:

INTRO-SL      Discussion List for New Members  (Registered classes only)
CHAT-SL       General Discussion List (Low level)
DISCUSS-SL    General Discussion List (High level)
BUSINESS-SL   Discussion List on Business and Economics
ENGL-SL       Discussion List on Learning English
EVENT-SL      Discussion List on Current Events
MOVIE-SL      Discussion List on the Cinema
MUSIC-SL      Discussion List on Music
SCITECH-SL    Discussion List on Science, Technology & Computers
SPORT-SL      Discussion List on Sports

Procedure -- Joining as a class

Teachers with students holding e-mail accounts register their classes as described below. Their students then subscribe to the main list, INTRO-SL. There, they introduce themselves and reply to the introductory messages of other students around the world. INTRO-SL is designed to give first-timers a chance to hone their e-mail skills before joining the other topically-based lists. When the students feel ready, they can then join any of the other lists and participate in the discussions that they find there.

Why "Student Lists"??

Thousands of lists already exist, many of which are of potential interest to students. These lists, however, are often complex in vocabulary, jargon and slang, and deal with topics at a fairly high technical level. While students might profit from *monitoring* these lists, most would be hard put to contribute something of value to the other subscribers. With the student lists, the students will be 'in their element' which makes posting less problematic. In addition, these lists provide an opportunity for students to interact with their peers around the world, which makes participation interesting, enjoyable, and motivating.

Before Your Students Subscribe...

To help ensure that the lists run smoothly, we recommend the following preparatory measures:

  1. Confirm with your computer center that the students' mailboxes are sufficiently large to hold 50-100 pieces of mail. (A rash of errors emanating from your site could result in everyone being removed from the lists.)
  2. Make sure that your students know how to compose a well-formatted message, with character returns at the end of each line, and with lines of 70 characters or less (to ensure legibility on other systems).
  3. Make sure your students understand the concept of a 'Discussion List.' Sending personal introductions or messages requesting private personal penpals, void of other content does not promote discussion.
  4. Inform the students of the general principles of "NETIQUETTE." Brief information on NETIQUETTE is provided in the INTRO-SL 'welcome message.'
  5. Make sure that the students understand the distinction between sending messages to the LISTSERV and posting messages. .

Registering Your Students

To register, send a message to with the following information:
 1)  Your name and institution
 2)  Number of students
 3)  Duration of class term
 4)  Name of the node the students will use (the part following the '@'
You will then be placed on a special discussion list (TCHR-SL) for the teachers who are involved in this project and will receive another document entitled Facilitating Use of the Student Lists: Guidelines for Teachers which contains further advice and a handout, with quiz, to help orient your students.

Subscribing to the Lists

Once the class as been registered, students sign onto INTRO-SL by sending a message to LISTSERV@lATROBE.EDU.AU saying:

         SUB INTRO-SL  firstname & familyname here
In order to verify that the student's address is accurate, the LISTSREV will send a request for confirmation. The subscription will commence once the confirmation message has been returned, as described therein.

Students must remain subscribed to INTRO-SL while participating on the SL Lists. They may, however, set themselves to 'NOMAIL' on INTRO-SL if they no longer wish to receive its messages. Full details on this and other procedures is provided in the INTRO-SL 'Welcome Message.'

Procedure for Individual Students

Students who wish to participate in the SL lists but are not currently enrolled in an English class may apply directly to the SL List Co-owner, Thomas Robb, for permission to join. Individuals must make the following promise when applying:

  I promise to read the rules for participation in the Student Lists
  and to follow them faithfully.  I understand that I may be
  removed from the SL lists if I violate these rules.
Happy netting to you and your students!

Co-owners of the SL Lists:

  Lloyd Holliday, La Trobe University, Australia
  Thomas Robb, Kyoto Sangyo University, Japan