Wednesday is one of my busiest teaching days. So, when I saw a request come through from Endang in Indonesia to skype with a class of hers, I wondered whether I could fit it in. I was about to teach my year 12 VCE Accounting class where mid-year exams are looming. However, it was nearly recess time and the request came through in my spare lesson for the day, so I agreed.
Needing a quiet room to skype in, I walked with my laptop to the computer room. Curious secondary students started to walk in during the recess break and soon they were talking to the grade 3/4 students from Pekalangon, Indonesia. Confident primary students from Indonesia came up to the webcamera in pairs and introduced themselves and then asked questions of our students. They compared what they did at playtime, the weather, school uniforms etc. To complete the video conference, the Indonesian students sang “Twinkle, twinkle little star” in perfect tune and in perfect English to the delight of my students.
That filled in a morning recess when the weather was cold and wet! The students had fun, but learnt so much!
Why does it work well!
- There is no planning required, just a willingness to make the most of every teachable moment.
- Little equipment required: just access to a laptop that is logged on skype
- The curiousity of students is always there, especially when smaller groups of students are involved. They want to learn about each other and they will drive the learning.
- It develops confidence on both sides
- Forces students to learn to communicate well
- Remembering to introduce myself formally and correctly (I always forget!)
- The internet speed between a two bandwidth poor areas: -a rural school in Australia and a school in Western Java, Indonesia