1 The Standards for Foreign Language Learning define what students should know and be able to do in foreign language education at different educational levels. These standards are intended to set up learning goals and to help devise a curriculum to achieve these goals. To that end, the Standards are organized around five main goals that focus on (a) communicating in the target language, (b) understanding the target culture, (c) connecting with other disciplines and acquiring information through the target language, (d) comparing the target language and culture with one's own, and e) being able to participate in a global community (ACTFL et al., 1996).

2 The LINGUIST listserve is an online discussion list focusing on linguistic topics. It can be accessed by sending an e-mail message to: LINGUIST-REQUEST@UNIWA.CC.UWA.OZ.AU; and including as the first and only line in the body of your message: SUBSCRIBE LINGUIST.


3 Soc.culture newsgroups are online discussions dealing with country-related socio-cultural topics. Some addresses for soc.culture groups are soc.culture.spain, soc.culture.latin-america, soc.culture.french, soc.culture.german, and soc.culture.japan.


4 According to experts participating in the "1st International Congress of the Spanish Language" (Zacatecas, Mexico, April 1997), in which Spanish speakers were encouraged to "conquer the cyberspace," 90% of the Internet entries are in English, 6% in French and German, and 2% in Spanish (Rico, 1997).


5 The samples are reproduced the way the students wrote them (except for the typographical features in the Spanish language such as the "ñ," the inverted question and exclamation symbols, and the accent marks, which could not be produced through the electronic medium, and were added by the researcher.)


6 After learning that a student of mine had started participating in chat rooms in Spanish, she was asked to describe her experience, writing the following:

Being introduced to e-mail [in Spanish] was the event that catapulted me into the world of cyberspace. I was a child in the wading pool hoping that one day I could learn to swim like the "big people." E-mail was the safest and most comfortable and familiar thing to me and the Internet and chat room were like the "big people" pool. Being particularly interested in topics and conversations in Spanish, I soon was full of just writing e-mail and wanted to do something more interactive. I decided to open up a [Spanish] chat room. In the beginning I only sat and watched the fluent speakers (or so I thought, fluent) type and interact simultaneously and over time I became more comfortable and decided to go for full immersion and actually type something and send it. After that first plunge, I decided that I could do it. Now talking through the [Spanish] chat rooms is a regular routine for me. I now have met several native and non-native speakers [of Spanish] from all over the world, for example California, Mexico, España, y otras partes del mundo [sic]. Now I send to and receive e-mail from them. I have let go of the security blanket and now my concept and understanding of the Spanish language and the culture of Spanish-speaking countries is broadening. And to think that it all started with e-mail!