Language Show Live: Online real-time communication12-Dec-2012
I suppose that currently there’s no problem in finding online communication tools and using them with students in language classes; the trick is in finding the one which works for the language benefit and students interests. Students tend to use online tools to communicate in spoken or written format in their native language so it seems quite natural to show students that the same communication channels apply when they use a foreign language. The important thing is to help students get used the style of the language which is used in various online communicators.
As online communication skills are of high importance in our everyday lives, I was really looking forward to attending this particular session hosted by Jo Mynard on exploring effective uses of tools such as Messengers, Skype or other chat programmes. The session was focused on discovering how these can help students practise their language skills in a meaningful way and develop a sense of autonomy over the language learning process.
Why use chat in the lessons?
- It provides students with a real-life communication room
- Facilitates students’ reflections on the language they use
- Provides opportunities for “noticing” language structure, mistakes
- Creates personalisation of the language
- Promotes students’ autonomy and ownership of the language
Popular available tools:
- MSN/ Google Messenger
- Facebook chat
- Private chat room
Chat lesson design
As you plan your lessons into stages, similar rules apply when you add chat to it and divide a chat lesson into: pre, during, post chat activities and reflections and goal setting. It would be good to have a small number of students who take part in this lesson, as it would be easier for you to monitor and help them.
This is a registration-free chat room where you moderate a private room that is only accessible by participants who know the password provided by you. You are sure that the chat environment is safe for your students to join.
Example 1: Get to know your mates
Ask students to think of two questions they will ask other people in the chat room. Give students some key words to help them come up with the questions: hobby, transport, travel, mobile phone.
Give students name of the chat and password to enter the room, students log in and ask each other the questions.
Follow up activity
What did you learn about the other students? What would you like to learn about the other students?
Ask students: How was your English? Look at the transcript of the chat. Would you change anything, how would you participate?
Example 2: Discussion
Divide students into groups and give each group a chat room to go in and discuss the assigned question. As a moderator, you can see what each group is working on and step in when and if needed. As the chat creates a transcript, you can use it at the end of the lesson or during the next lesson to focus on the language used. You could also ask students the questions from the Reflective stage in Example 1.
Language benefits of chat:
- Communication and fluency
- Form focus
- Opinions and reflections skills
- Sense of community building
Chat is a great tool to use when you have access to the computer lab or internet during class and students can bring in their own devices. However, chat would also work well during your online lessons as it would break a lesson and help students to refocus. Online communication tools can definitely change the dynamics of the lesson and open up some of the shy students and those who tend to stay in the back during open group activities. A chat gives them a chance to work on their answers/questions and make the final version before they submit it in the most satisfactory format.
Please see below for more articles in the ‘Language Show Live’ series: