The world has certainly shrunk with technology and it’s a true pity to miss the opportunity to allow our students to connect with it. Especially when learning a foreign language.
A Mystery Hangout or a Mystery Skype might be the solution to this. I gave it a go earlier this year and haven’t stopped ever since.
There are some things to bear in mind before you launch yourself on your first video chat.
- Before you start, you’ll need a Gmail account for the Hangout or a Skype account. Log in and make sure your microphone and camera are working properly. You don’t want technical issues to ruin your experience.
- Find a teacher or class willing to have a Hangout/Skype session with you. You can find some teachers in these Google+ Communities: Mystery Hangout for schools, Connected Classrooms Workshop, or Mystery Location Calls. The Skype in the Classroom website also features teachers looking for Skyping buddies. If you use Twitter, you can use the #mysterylocation or #mysterySkype.
- Make sure your schedules coincide. Check time zones and locations. World Time Buddy is really handy for this, but you can use any online time converter. Remember that Argentina is GMT -3:00.
Prepare your students
- You can brainstorm questions beforehand and write them down if possible. This will give them enough confidence when the videoconference starts.
- Remind them they need to speak clearly and politely. There might be some delay, so this is key.
- Assign roles. When kids know what is expected of them, the chances of them acting out decrease greatly. This will help you have a smooth call. There should at least be a ‘greeter’ and a ‘closer’ to start and finish the conversation, some ‘question makers’ who ask the preassigned questions, a ‘locator’ that keeps track of the clues on the map, a/some ‘Googler’ who looks up key information that may lead to discovering the mystery location, and some ‘sharers’ who will continue the conversation after the guessing is done by telling their buddies fun facts about their city/country.
The follow-up activities will depend on what kind of Hangout/Skype you had. Activities can range from very simple ones, like writing an account of the conversation or listing fun facts about the other country/school, to more complex ones, such as presentations or essays. It will all depend on the age and level of your students.