Hello Natalia, First off, as a school we purchased a number of conversations. We were then issued codes for each conversation, and I arranged them for the students. This applied to the two classes in which I used TalkAbroad (French II, French IV/French IV Honors). In my French II class we first decided the goal of the conversation: simply getting to know one another. We then looked at the profile of our conversation partner. Based on her interests and experiences I asked students in groups of two to come up with about ten questions (nothing that was already answered in the profile). We then looked at the questions together, and I role-played the conversation partner. This brought up shortcomings of the yes/no questions, and students then thought of follow-up questions or came up with different questions. We also practiced turn taking and introducing ourselves before asking or answering a question. In the instructions to our partner I shared the goal and simply encouraged her to draw every student into the conversation, trusting that she was trained sufficiently to speak at the level of the students (which she did marvelously). Our first conversation was done as a whole class--I set it up, introduced myself and the students, and then withdrew to allow the students to converse without looking at me for help. Though I did interfere once or twice to move the conversation along, overall it was quite successful-everyone participated, some with gusto and real curiosity, but for others it was mostly a scripted exercise. They all felt that half an hour was very long. Nevertheless, we repeated the exercise, only this time I divided the groups into three, had them again read the profiles and come up with questions that I critiqued, but then the students had their conversations outside of class. These went much better for them--they generally felt more relaxed, spoke more, and reported that they would like to have more conversations to get to know their partners better. I believe that if I start introducing TalkAbroad conversations earlier, students will be able to have individual conversations at the end of the year (the short versions). In my level IV class, we used the same method to prep for our initial conversation, which was also held with the entire class. For the second conversation, I partnered students and asked them to focus on specific topics that we had explored in class (education, study abroad). The conversations were held outside of class, but the students each wrote a summary of theirs. In this class 7 out of 9 expressed that they really enjoyed their conversations. I then gave them the option to have a conversation on their own in lieu of the oral final exam, and 6 of 9 jumped at the opportunity (both Honors and non-Honors students). In this last case, the students chose their conversation partner. I then selected a (French) article, which they would use as the basis for some questions. Again, I asked students to submit their questions beforehand, to make sure they were properly prepared. During the final exam time, they then wrote up a summary of their conversation (in French) referencing both the article and their partner's responses. Every single one of them expressed how much they enjoyed their conversation--they felt that they were just having a conversation rather then doing an exercise. I think it was an uplifting and inspiring experience for all. I hope this is helpful. Linda
Free webinar: Video chatting with native speakers: Why, What, and How
Description: Web-based videoconferencing with native speakers is perhaps one of the best uses of technology in the world language classroom, yet for many instructors, integrating it into their courses may seem like a daunting task. The presenter will begin with an overview of how Internet-mediated conversation exchanges with native speakers around the world may benefit both second and heritage language learners, based on what emerging research has found. Then, the presenter will discuss the advantages and limitations of different available platforms, both free and paid, many of which are available for high school and college courses. Participants will also see specific examples of how videoconferencing was integrated into two intermediate Spanish courses. Lastly, the presenter will propose a series of best practices for integrating videoconferencing with native speakers in the language classroom at various proficiency levels.
Date: Thursday October 18, 2018.
Time: 6:30pm Eastern / 5:30pm Central / 3:30pm Pacific
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