(This article was originally posted on 李國禎的英語教學.)
Ever since Akiko and I determined to make this Skype exchange happen regardless of all the hurdles ahead of us this September, we have been doing “collaborative lesson planning” through Skype many times. Besides our passion and dedication
for this project, the idea is that we need to come up with workable lesson plans, worksheets and other materials to meet the goal of effective communication between both sides.
Today, in the beginning of our meeting, we reviewed a bit of what we learned from the very first Skype exchange last Friday. I brought up the issue of poor laptop sound quality and consulted with Akiko and Bettie on how to fix it before the second exchange. We considered using headsets, but that meant we would have to prepare more laptops for EACH student, which is not going to happen in the near future. As a result, I’ll just have to ask my students not to be shy and raise their voice so that we can hear each other clearly.
Then, we together decided on the topic for this Friday’s meeting: music. On my end, I’ll tell my students that this is another Show and Tell activity which we have done before, meaning they get to bring any musical instruments, CD albums or posters of singers they like and give an introduction in English. I know some of my students would really love to talk about his favorite Japanese comic book characters, but due to the “We need to be on the same page.” principle, I’ll just have to suggest introducing a theme song from that comic book instead.
Next, we’ll develop a worksheet as scaffolding to help with useful English expressions regarding this topic, such as words and phrases to describe what they think of or how they feel about a specific song, singer or band. With the help of Google Drive, now we can edit and share our learning materials together online. On top of that, we also decided that each group would have 10 minutes to talk about music, and then we'll rotate the students as to meet up different people and become more and more fluent after a few rounds.
Why am I so obsessed with this exchange idea? Well, I myself have worked on my English speaking skills through Skype for many years, and I know this is the only way to become fluent without leaving the country. Also, when I attended the workshop in Seoul last summer, I met wonderful English teachers from Japan, Korea and many other countries and was able to have meaningful conversations with them in English. When I was in Kyoto this August, I enjoyed talking with a Japanese cartoonist about Japanese comic books and professional wrestling so much. I want my students to experience it and also become aware that being able to use English to get to know people outside of Taiwan is so much fun.