Skype it up!
Everyone has heard of Skype. It is most likely the cheapest way to communicate with people from all around the world. People use it to talk with friends, family, or sometime even people met on the internet. However, how can Skype be used in a school context to help students learn a second language?
In a second language classroom, the hardest thing to learn is most often the speaking skills. Amongst each other, students tend to talk in their first language rather than in the target language, because they all share the same language. However, what would happen if they would face someone who doesn’t speak French, for instance?
They would be forced to speak in English! That is why Education Skype exists! Using this board, teachers from all around the world can post a request. That way, their students can enjoy face-to-face conversation with native speakers of their target language. Once a partner has been found, the students only need to share their information over Skype in order to be able to converse with a native speaker.
Obviously, students won’t converse indefinitely if they don’t have a specific topic to talk about or a specific activity proposed. For that reason, many activities can be done using Skype. For instance,one interesting way to introduce students to one another over Skype could be with the use of a Mystery Skype activity. This activity consists of a game, where two teachers set a time for their respective students to Skype. It is a simple guessing game, where two students will ask each other questions in order to guess where the other student is located. It can be a very good activity to practice oral skills but also geography.
Most of the time, time and budget is a constraint when thinking about doing a field trip with their students. Using Skype, teachers can arrange field trips online. For instance, Skype’s Exploring Oceans section offers different online Skype lessons. You’d never be able to bring your whole class at the bottom of the ocean. However, Skype makes the impossible possible. Using the Skype online courses, you could let your students explore the never ending abyss of any ocean live! Not only is it way more interesting that a regular course, it will also help them practice their listening skills.
Another way to use Skype as a teacher can be useful for the parents of the students. Sometimes, setting a time during the day can be hard for working parents, not to mention parents who can be oversea for work. Using video conferences, the teacher can communicate with those ”special case” parents, and make the whole process a lot more personal than a simple phone call or e-mail can. As Cathy Williams mentioned in Melissa Anderson’s article, “The advancement in technology just over the last couple of years has provided such an opening.”
All in all, Skype can be used in a variety of ways in order to help students engage in speaking activity. Many teachers worldwide use it and can appreciate the opportunity to let their students engage in meaningful interactions with other students all over the world.