Skype – #3 of 10 Tech Things

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March 30, 2011 by k. liz

What is it? Skype
What do I use it for? Getting my students to talk with native speakers.
How long does it take? Maybe 10 minutes prep if you want to give a handout for the students to fill in.
My rating: ******* 7/10

I’m sure most of you know about and use Skype regularly, and maybe even in the classroom. But if you’re like me, you might not have thought of it as a classroom tool before. I only just decided to do this a few weeks ago when we were studying asking for and giving information. I had a sheet of questions with the vocabulary that my students were studying, and we called my brother-in-law and sister-in-law to ask for the information. That seemed to go over really well with my students since they actually had a context in which to use their English.

Today, I had a speaking class. We called my dad for the last 20 minutes of class, and our context was advice, but several of them jumped at the opportunity to talk to someone else, ask questions, tell them about themselves, etc.

I would suggest giving the students a sheet with something required to fill in . . . the person’s name, where they live, etc. This will ensure that they are listening and at least participating in the conversation a little. On the handout I made for the first time we did this, I left two extra questions blanks at the end for the students to ask their own questions. However, I also don’t mind when they get off track, because they are being forced to make themselves understandable to someone who is not used to their accent or their native language.

I know this is a simple tool, with almost no prep work required, but if you have an internet connection, projection, and a room of students, this can be a really effective way to get them to practice a particular point or just to practice their fluency and it seems to give a little spark of excitement and intrigue as the students are finally getting to use something they’ve been learning. This makes their learning fit into reality when they realize that without it they cannot communicate with the person on the screen.



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