One of the best ways to become fluent in a foreign language is to have a conversation with people who are native to the language. Skype video chatting is free, and taking your entire eighth grade class to France is, well, expensive. Foreign language teachers can hook up with an English teacher in another country and let the students attempt to converse. It’s a great way to get a feel for what the language sounds like when it’s spoken by a native tongue.
What student wouldn’t love to chat with the author after they’ve finished reading her book? What about a group of students talking to an astronaut while they’re studying the stars? Because of obstacles like funding and logistics, scenarios like these were never possible. Now, Skype brings these possibilities to life. No matter what subject students are studying, teachers can find an expert in the field who will host a quick Skype video conference with the students.
Once upon a time, students who were out sick were completely out of touch with the classroom. That’s not a problem anymore in classrooms with Skype. Teacher Rian Burnett used Skype when she had a student who was out of class for an extended period of time for medical reasons. Burnett used Skype to let the student in on whole class instruction, and to let her "just keep in touch with her classmates." According to Burnett, it made it easier for the student when she returned. "And it really helped her recover, her mom said," added Burnett.
Field trips are expensive, especially when the places you want your students to see are very far away. Skype lets students explore new places on a virtual level, but it can be much more intimate and informative than a virtual tour you’ll find on a place’s website. Since the tour must have a host, there will be someone there to answer questions or steer the camera in another direction if kids want an up-close look at something else.
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