Engaging Virtual Conversations – Scott Benedict

2020 has been an interesting, if not challenging year! For the first time in history, most schools worldwide moved to a distance-learning model teaching students virtually rather than in classrooms. In this session, I will show you how to engage your students in real-world conversations using the virtual platform of your choice. No memorized or pre-planned dialogues here. Just real, spontaneous, person-to-person conversations.

We have all had to adapt quickly to an ever-changing educational environment due to the worldwide pandemic. We all are searching for things we can do with our students virtually that is both engaging and incorporates comprehensible input. 

In my classroom, I have always done conversations on Mondays. This was the special day where I dedicated time to just talk with my students about whatever in the target language. This was real-world conversation. We weren’t focused on teaching vocabulary or grammar or had any agenda other than communication. We know that acquiring a language happens best when there is real interaction between the student and the teacher and there’s no better way than with a conversation to accomplish this. 

In the last three months of the school year, we were forced into a distance-learning situation rather quickly. Our school went with an asynchronous model which worked well for some activities, but not others. There was no way to get real-time conversations going with a pre-recorded video. So I had to come up with a different way. I had students pre-register for an appointment time, limited it to 10-15 students at a time, and opened up ¡Español con Profe! and it was a hit. Students appreciated the narrow focus of our time together. I found a variety of questions that lead to great conversations, often with very funny responses that we could expound upon. The rules were simple: Spanish all the time, ask questions if you don’t understand, and stay focused. It was highly successful and something I plan to continue once we move back into the classroom.

I think the Agen-Workshop participants need additional virtual tools in their toolbox and this activity will give them one more tool that they can use to engage students and keep the language active.

This presentation takes place in “French room” on Monday July 27th at 20:00 Paris time (CEST). To access the room, please click here to consult the visual map (restricted to registered conference attendees).

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