Wednesday, 20 April 2016

ETAS Cyber Sessions: English Language Teaching via Skype

Skype as a medium for language teaching 

Part 1

Welcome everyone to this project that I'm piloting together with the ETAS (English Teachers Association Switzerland) Regional Coordinators for Central Switzerland. I was initially asked to give a talk about technology but suggested instead that we explore another medium and format for providing continuing professional development to ETAS members. I'm interested in experimenting with a format that complements and expands on the excellent services that ETAS already provides, such as the Annual Conference, Professional Development Day and diverse face-to-face workshops throughout Switzerland.

I envisage these Skype sessions as providing a platform where English language teachers can exchange skills and network. Please don't come expecting to sit back and watch a powerpoint presentation. These sessions will be informal conversations where you'll have plenty of opportunity to ask questions, share experiences and explore some tools. I'll be giving you insight into how I use Skype to teach English as a foreign language and will be introducing you to some tools that I use to improve my students' learning experience. In addition, we'll have a look at tools that I use to assist with the management, organisation and storage of my online teaching resources.

Have a browse below. I've provided information about registration as well as what you're going to need in order to participate and what I'd like you to do before and after the sessions.

How to Register

You'll be sent a mail from the ETAS Regional Coordinators for Central Switzerland with session times and dates as well as information concerning registration. You'll be asked to provide  information such as your Skype username so that we can organise group calls in advance. I anticipate a maximum of four participants per group but am also happy to accommodate pairs or individuals if desired.

What you need

You'll need to download the Skype software and open a personal account. As mentioned above, the Regional Coordinators will require your Skype username and your full name in advance so that we can create the appropriate groups. I'll send you an invitation via Skype to connect with me so please accept it.

Ensure that your device has a webcam and microphone so that you can fully participate in the conversation and activities. If you have a headset, please wear it. I'll explain why this is useful during the course of our discussion.


- If you already have a Skype account, open it up in advance and check whether it needs updating. It's better to be prepared. 

- Select a room that is quite and without distractions so that you can enjoy the session. It's amazing what webcams and microphones capture in the background!

- If you're using a wireless connection please ensure that you're sitting where the signal is strong. 

Pre-session task

I've created a public canvas board using Linoit. You can ask questions, express any anxieties that you might have about teaching via Skype, or share any teaching experiences that you've already had using Skype or any other web conferencing tool. This task will give you the opportunity to experiment with Linoit in advance and give you a chance to reflect on how it could be used with your language students. I find it extremely useful and versatile for language teaching so this is something that we can take a closer look at together.

Post-session task

I'd love to hear some feedback, so please take a moment to share your thoughts about using this kind of medium and format for continuing professional development. You can post your thoughts on this canvas board in Linoit, which will give you another chance to explore the tool. Alternatively, you can leave a comment at the end of this blog post.

Here are a couple of question prompts for you to consider:

How did you find Skype as a medium for sharing skills?

Do you feel that this medium has potential for continuing professional development?

Would you be interested in doing something similar yourself?

Would you be interested in attending more ETAS Skype events?

Once the sessions are completed, I'll be writing a reflective post and would like to include a summary of your comments and suggestions.

Looking forward to engaging with you online.

Source Image:
CC0 Public Domain


Part 2
Etas Cyber Sessions: Teachers helping Teachers

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