Cross Cultural Communication
Type of technology: Google Hangouts or FaceTime from Apple
SAMR Model Rating: Redefinition
Grade level: All
Subject area: Listening and Speaking
Every year I like to try to pair my students with big buddies, older students from our school who can act as mentors. One year finding big buddies for my class simply didn’t work out. I was disappointed that my students might have to miss an opportunity to work and learn with students from a different classroom. That’s when I turned to the pen pal solution. If we couldn’t have on site big buddies, our buddies would have to be from somewhere else. I emailed a friend who was teaching abroad and she agreed that our classes could practice writing to each other. After we exchanged a letter or two we decided to schedule a visit via FaceTime. Adding a real time visual was a game changer! My students were thrilled to see their buddies and hear their voices. They discovered each other’s accents and how similar their classrooms looked. My class not only got to practice writing, but with the addition of FaceTime they could improve their listening, speaking, and global competence.
Being able to effectively communicate with people from around the globe is a vital skill our students can begin working on early. This means being able to speak, listen, and collaborate with a variety of people. Not only do I want my students to develop strong communication skills, I want them all to become effective global communicators.
Interaction between people of different backgrounds is key. Google Hangouts is a newer option for that. It is a free communication platform that is easy to use with your Google account (Gmail). My favorite part is Google’s video chat can include up to 10 people! It is convenient for inviting several guest speakers or different classes to collaborate. Video chat has been around for years and continues to improve with a variety of features.
Whichever platform you choose for your classroom, video chat is a great tool for closing distance. I’ve used it to connect my 2nd grade class to another 2nd grade class in South America. I’ve been able to introduce my class to an author of a book we read (thank you technology!). My students have gotten experiences speaking to and listening to students from different countries. They have gotten to ask people questions and received immediate, personal responses. The rest of the world is just a video call away.