Note to readers:
These essays were the result of a collaboration between students in Dr. Kasper's ESL 91 D01B course and students in Prof. Weiss' ESL 91 D02B course. Students worked together to research and discuss topics that linked linguistics to the various focus disciplines chosen by the students. After discussing salient issues related to the research questions, each student produced his/her own individual essay.



Students in the business group examined the language of web pages. They researched how web page users read on the web and how web page designers should write for the web. They then applied this information to the design of a web page for business


ESL 91

Fall, 2000


Essay Topic: The language of web pages--how users read on the Web; how businesses should write for the Web. Describe how businesses should advertise on the web through web pages. What must businesses remember about how users read on the Web? What principles should businesses use when they write for the Web? What are some important things to remember when designing a good Web page? You should create an outline for a web page that illustrates the principles you've discussed in your essay. Choose a product and explain how you would construct your web page, including text, graphics, links.

††††††††††† ††††††††††† Today, there are uncountable Web Pages. Not only many companies, but also anyone who has knowledge of computers is able to create a Website.However, not all the WebPages can attract usersí attention. Some of them can be favored because they are easy for the users to understand and enjoy, but some of them canít. It depends on if the Webwriter knows how users read on the WebPages. When we make a Web Page, the most basic thing that we have to remember is that reading texts on the web and reading texts in print are totally different tasks.

††††††††††† ††††††††††† According to research (Nielsen, 1997), people rarely read Web Pages word by word. Rather, they scan the page because reading from a computer screen is 25% slower than reading from paper. For this reason, when we make a Web Page, we have to take usersí feelings into consideration. There are three guidelines for making a good Web Page. They are to be succinct, write for scannability and use hypertext to split up long text into several pages.

††††††††††† ††††††††††† If I want to create a website for the purpose of selling the designerís clothes over the Internet, I must consider these three basic factors. The first thing that I need is to make text as short as I can. Since people tend to get tired of reading long text, I should not write more than 50% of the text which I would have used in a print text (Nielsen, 1997) If I want to write an explanation of my company and designers, all the information should be summarized and some words removed to make concise text.

††††††††††† ††††††††††† Those short texts might avoid making the users get bored. However, if I write all the content with only normal letters, users will not be able to understand what the key point in my Web Page is. If I want to take advantage of usersí scannability instead of reading text word by word, I need to put meaningful headlines covered with highlights, boldface or remarkable color to emphasize what I want to tell users. I will highlight the bland name of products such as Calvin Klein or Donna Karan New York, and animate the word, for example moving it from the left side of the screen letter by letter. It will be one of the good strategies to catch the userís attention.

The last thing that I have to remember is that I canít put all the information within one page. Itís because when we read on a computer screen, we have to scroll or click to follow the text and this reduces our concentration. People do not usually like to do this. Therefore, I must split the information up into different pages by using hypertext links. Iíll write a list of brand names on the first page and split up each designerís products into a different page. This will lead the users to the each designerís page by clicking on the designerís name.

††††††††††† In addition, I will put pictures of the products with a few sentences of explanation included about what sizes and colors are available. Again, that information should be succinct.

When we create Web Pages, the most important thing that we have to consider as Webwriters is to make the users feel comfortable reading the Web Pages. In order to satisfy users, it is essential to create Web Pages which follows these three factors. Those good Web Pages will help you be successful.



Nielsen Jacob (1997), Writing for the Web [Online]

Norkes, J., and Nielsen, J. (1998) Applying Writing Guidelines to Web pages [Online]

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Jing Chen
ESL 91
Fall, 2000


The language of web pages is concerned with how users read on the web and how businesses should write for the web. To write for the web means to tell the buyer what the company does, how the company does in business and what they offer for the web. The businesses may need to design a good web page for the buyers. So the web page will provide information about products for customers. The customers will read through your web page to order their products. The business will lose their customers if the buyers visit the web page once only. The language of web pages is very important for both the users and businesses because web language is used all the time on the Internet. People who don't know web language may not survive on the Internet.

How do the users read on the web? This is a good question for businesses. There are so many people get online, but most people don't like to read web pages word by word. Instead, they scan the page to pick out individual words and sentences. (Nielsen, 1997). Therefore, the businesses must remember to highlight keywords. Also, the businesses should color the keywords on headings. When the user reads them, it is easy to know what it is about. The text should be as short as one idea per paragraph. The users refuse to read additional ideas in one paragraph. If they don't catch the meaning in the first few words, then they stop loading the web page. To give consumers a summary of content, businesses web pages should use the inverted pyramid style and start with a conclusion. Credibility is most important for the web users. The users must believe what they read. High quality graphics, good writing and use of outbound hypertext inks can increase credibility. It helps web users go straight to the facts. So, the users may save their time when they read on the web.

The businesses must know how to write for the web to allow the buyers to understand what the business is selling. People go to web sites to get information. The businesses should provide a short paragraph to describe the product. The buyers don't like to read long paragraphs that are not related to the product. The businesses should create headings and sub-headings that have some meaning. That gives some organization to the information and makes it easier for the buyer to know what the paragraph is about. Then the businesses should limit the words on the topic and use links to break it up.

A short explanation will make the information easier to read and understand deeply. Also, the businesses should use numbered or bulleted lists to make information easier to read. The last thing is to create descriptive links. The hyperlinks will indicate where the user will go next when they click.

When businesses design a good web page, it will help them run professional and fast services. A domain name (for example: http://www.your should be on the heading of the web page. The web page should be registered with over 1100 search engines and link sites. Then it will be easy for buyers to find the product in search engines. The graphic design is important too. The company should use more pictures instead of typed text. The buyers like to see pictures more than text. However, business shouldn't show too many pictures; several meaningful pictures are enough on a site. Secure order forms and e-mail response forms must also be on the web page. A secure form allows the buyers to enter their credit card numbers. An e-mail response form allows the company to send back information to the buyers. Advertising is a part of web page design. Advertising on the web is a powerful way to sell a product that convinces people to buy it. Businesses must update their web page every day because the users like to read new information.

I would like to sell watches on my web pages. My domain name will be ( When you load my web page, you will see a big watch in front of you and you will hear a song to welcome you to the web page. The watch is Rolex. I think Rolex is the most expensive watch in the world. A Rolex picture can tell the buyer the worth of my web page. So, you can click any section that you want to visit. The buyer can find any brand of watch in my web page. The price list will be $50 to $10,000. I will offer a free gift if they spend over $100. Also, the buyer can buy any lower priced product in my web page. I will provide a few ways to take an order such as mailing, faxing and buying on the Net. In my web page, I also have a gift section for buyers. When the customers click the blue watch, it means the watch is for a birthday gift. The red watch is for a Christmas gift. I may ask customers some questions before they link in to the gift section. The computer will follow their answer that loads on the web page. I will also ask them to leave an e-mail address when they leave. The search engine will help the buyers find other things besides watches. Customers will come to my site to buy a watch and they will have fun. So, they won't get bored and they can play games on my web page. We provide some games like puzzles or bingo where customers can win prizes. They would have chances to win the money and buy the products. Finally, there will be music for customers when they leave. A sad face will come out if they don't buy anything; a smiling face if they have shopped on my web page.

It is not easy to read on the web and to write for the web. The businesses must think in both ways when they do business on the Net. If the buyers don't understand what is written on the web page, how will they order and buy products? Businesses should write all information that customers may need to know. Companies will have problems if they don't write a good web page. The business will go down and go bankrupt on the Internet.


Bogart designs. (May 21,2000) [Online]

De Koven James (nd). How to write for the web [Online].

Internet services. (August 26,2000). [Online].

Nielsen, Jacob. (1997). How users read on the web. [Online]



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Students in the psychology group researched the language acquisition theories of Noam Chomsky and B. F. Skinner. They analyzed the similarities and differences between these two theories.

FALL 2000

Essay Topic: After discussing the issues in the readings with your group, write an essay in which you describe the language acquisition theories of Noam Chomsky and B.F. Skinner. Then compare and contrast these theories. Explain the analogy of the light switch, described on p23 of your textbook Interdisciplinary English, and relate it to what Chomsky and Skinner believed about how we acquire language.


Language is very important for all of us because the language helps us to express our thoughts, and feelings. We also can communicate between human beings with language. Without learning language, there would probably be a problem for everyone.


Sociologists, linguists and psychologists are interested in language acquisition and how we acquire our language skills. For example, the linguist Chomsky and psychologist B.F. Skinner had two theories of how we learn language.


Noam Chomsky believed that all humans have knowledge of the general grammar of their native languages from birth. This means children don't need to learn the general grammar rules because all children are able to put words into the right grammatical order from birth. In other words, Chomsky believes that the children are born with a natural inborn ability to speak simple sentences. So children do not need to be taught their native language.


In contrast, B. F. Skinner believed that children must learn native language grammar, and children need to learn through the experience of communication with their peers and environment. Children usually learn the sounds and vocabulary of their native language through their imitation of others in the environment.


Chomsky's and Skinner's theories are contrasting. Chomsky believed that humans have an inborn capacity for a native language. Skinner believed that children learn from their experience and imitate from their environment. Consequently, Chomsky's theory is that children can speak automatically, but Skinner's theory shows that children learn by copying language from their parents or environment.


Both theories make sense to me. The two theories complement each other. Language acquisition is a knowledge and understanding of grammar, and language is also acquired through communication with our environment. Therefore, without an innate ability, we can't develop our native language skills and also without development of environment, we can't take advantage of an innate capacity. In other words, we need to have both innate ability and learning for language acquisition.


The capacity for language acquisition is in our brain. Our brain comes with wires to learn a native language. The language acquisition is very important for our lives. If we can't communicate with each other then we will need to use the sign language just like monkeys. So we need to learn with our innate brain capacity.




To do this project, I read about two interesting theories by Noam Chomsky and B.F, Skinner. These two scientists were interested in language acquisition. They demonstrate how important language acquisition is for humans.


All humans grow up with a native language so I believe that humans have an innate capacity for language acquisition. All humans have knowledge by their experience from birth. We experience learning language through all our lives and we acquire knowledge of language in our natural environment. I learned once more the importance of language acquisition. I also learned that all humans have the capacity to learn and get more knowledge for language acquisition. Furthermore, the human's capacity can achieve the second language, too.


I enjoyed working with the psychology group because we all worked and helped each other. I thought that group working would be difficult, but we all participated in our group working on the essay. I never had a chance to work with a group before, and I learned how to communicate with our group. I could get more information from different viewpoints so I could get myself to write more clearly for my essay. The experience of working with a group was good for me at least. On the other hand, the bad point is that we should be able to meet more frequently in our groups.

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Page last updated on December 13, 2000