Friday, October 19, 2012

3 Things EFL Students Can See and Do with Skype in the Classroom

A guest post by Kate Willson

Skype in the classroom is an awesome tool that allows teachers and students to connect with other classrooms and subject experts to expand their learning opportunities. Like regular Skype, Skype in the classroom is a video chat service, but there are a few key differences that make it more classroom-friendly.

One difference is that the service has partnered with various organizations around the globe to offer Skype lessons. These lessons are pre-planned and participants must register in advance to take part in discussions. Multiple subjects and topics are reviewed. Current Skype lesson partners include the British Council, Microsoft, NASA’s Digital Learning Network and the New York Philharmonic. Individual teachers and experts may also organize and host a Skype lesson.

For EFL teachers and students, Skype in the classroom can be used to learn more about cultures associated with the English language and to listen and speak to experts whose first language is English. Listed below are three specific things EFL students can see and do with Skype in the classroom.

1.     Find a “pen pal”: If your classroom is lucky enough to have access to multiple computers, then your students can find an English-speaking “pen pal” on Skype. Under the Collections tab on the Skype in the classroom webpage, look for Pen Pals to Write Home About. This is where you can search for classrooms that are interested in chatting and post your classroom’s interest. Even if you only have one computer, your classroom can still participate in a group chat with another classroom.

2.     Learn about cultural practices: Search for experts or classrooms who can teach your students about particular cultural practices, such as food, music, art, holidays, fashion and other traditions. Lessons related to culture can be found on the Culture Club and Food for Thought pages on the Skype in the classroom website.

3.     Connect your students to other teachers: Language professionals sometimes conduct lectures via Skype. Teachers can search for existing lessons or create their own lessons with other teachers they know personally. This is especially helpful for teachers whose first language is not English and who want to teach their students about accents and dialects.  

      Skype in the classroom is a great way to enrich the EFL subject and can potentially help students learn and speak the language more fluently. To use Skype in the classroom, teachers must first create an account. This is a free service. If you already have a personal Skype account, you may use it to log in to Skype in the classroom. To learn more about Skype in the classroom, check out its Frequently Asked Questions webpage.

Kate Willson is a researcher/writer for Her articles cover several topics related to learning, including trends in online schooling, advice for new college students and recent grads and college preparation for high school students. Please leave any questions or comments for Kate below.

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