August 23, 2014

Helping students develop speaking with Whatsapp

I normally teach teenagers and this semester I wanted to have students record  the mini dialogues they normally create in class. These recordings apart from being an opportunity for students to practise speaking and listening could help me observe their progress.

I've been focussing on CAN DO objectives, so close to the end of each class I ask pairs of students to create a mini dialogue using the topic of the lesson. In pairs, they write down a mini dialogue of about 6 turns. I have a quick look at the dialogues checking for mistakes related to the topic of the lesson and then students rehearse it. When they feel they are ready, they can make the recording using their own cell phones.

As we're using EDMODO to post homework, to do quizzes and share extra material, I imagined they could use their own cell phones to record their dialogues and then send it to our Edmodo group. When I suggested the recording for the first time, students were a bit surprised because they had never recorded themselves using English. One student then asked if they could share the recording via WHATSAPP, considering the fact that all of them have the app on their cell phones and it's possible to record within the app. I accepted the idea and one of the students volunteered to create a group for sharing the recordings.

After students upload the recordings, I usually ask them to listen to other dialogues created by their classmates. At home, I listen to all the recorded dialogues and take notes of mistakes related to the target language which  I share with the whole group in a following class without identifying anyone. I've been truly happy with the opportunity to see my students using their creativity to practise the language and to have "palpable" evidence of what my students seem to have learned or not.

This screenshot shows a conversation between a student and myself. I was happy to see they are enjoying listening to themselves and their classmates.

And this is a sample of a dialogue created by two of my students. Can you identify the target structure they were trying to use?

What about this one?