My biggest fear for my classroom is for Google Voice to disappear. I wrote about Gabcast and the end of [free] Gabcast, and then I searched the web over for just. this. tool. Recently a couple of people have sent this article to me, so I know there are other language teachers using it in their classrooms. If you are not familiar with this tool, please check out my previous post that describes how it works.
I want to explain a few activities that have worked out very well with Google Voice. The first one is the most basic. A student will call in and record a short written assignment. I really focus on the pronunciation and fluency in this type of activity rather than the grammar of a formal written assignment.
Partner activities are great for Google Voice too. I will have the students pass the phone back and forth as they act out a conversation or skit. Despite the background noise, the recording is pretty clear. This is a huge time saving activity. Partners can all record their conversation at the same time and be done in 10 minutes rather than go to the front of the class, get very self-conscious about talking in front of their classmates and take up two class periods. There is something to be said about students hearing their peers and the learning that comes from repetition, but I can always select a handful of recordings to play back and still achieve that goal. I now have a follow up listening activity produced by my students for their classmates.
The third type of activity I tried out stressed the kids a little, but I hope with practice, they will grow more confident in their language abilities. I wanted to simulate a spur of the moment type of conversation rather than a write-it-out-and-then read-it. Students practiced asking each other 8-10 questions involving target vocabulary and grammar points. After 10-15 minutes they randomly picked out three questions each. The questions were in English, so the kids had to produce the question rather than just read it. They had to ask their partner the questions and the partner needed to reply. Then they switched roles. Google Voice will record up to three minutes, so are pressed for time to come up with the question and reply.
If you are using Google Voice in another manner, please share it with me. I’m always looking for ideas.