Skype in Class

I have a confession to make: I have never used Skype. So it is as a neophyte that I write this blog. Anyway, like most members of my generation, I figure that if I ever have problems using Skype, all I have to do is ask my kids for help.

I’m interested in Skype because I see it as a great way to connect my students with fellow students their age who are native English speakers. As I look on the Internet, I realize that the good people at Skype set up an Education section on their website. Though this site covers almost every subject, the posts World Class 4 Kids and Comparing Schools Around the Globe are particularly promising when it comes to connecting French speaking Québec children with native English speaking children from around the world.

Writing this blog opened up my mind to another possible application of Skype in the classroom: the possibility of linking my future students with famous individuals from fields like sports, politics or science. This Time magazine article shows how some teachers managed to get their students have a Skype conversation with celebrities (Shaquille O’Neal chief among them) during their classes. Skype allows schools and teachers to introduce their students to new cultures and experts at a low cost. Now that is something that I find absolutely great! Skype provides me with the opportunity to ask my future students who they would like to talk with (as long as that person is a native English speaker) and give them a chance to actually communicate with him or her. This can happen with little or no cost and regardless of the distance that may separate my class and the person my students Skype with.

Educators everywhere are getting on the Skype bandwagon. Sites like edudemic.com and theedublogger.com provide helpful hints on how to use Skype in class and what are the possible activities that this technology provides in a pedagogical context. I find the The Peace One Day and Around the World in 80 Classrooms initiatives very interesting. In my view, they both allow students to open up their minds to new cultures and realities and the force Québec children to analyze and compare their situation with that of other children around the world.

As I see it, Skype is a great technological tool that can be used as a low cost, high speed gate to the world that can be easily used in a classroom. Teachers everywhere are already using Skype in order to help their students better understand the world we live in. In my case, Skype is also a great tool allowing my future students to practice English with native English speakers. It seems to me that the possibilities that Skype offer in a classroom are only limited by the teacher’s imagination and will to experiment. The question is then: as a future English teacher, am I game?

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