As I reflect on my language exchange experience so far this semester I am constantly amazed as to its impact it has on my students – first-year UAA pre-service English language teachers. Each week’s exchange (i.e., performance task) really drives the rest of the week’s lessons as learners prepare for their conversation with their US partner(s) at MU. I see my group gaining more confidence each week as they improve in their langauge acquisition and learn more about their exchange partner(s).
In addition to using Skype as the primary means of communication, this semester we began using other applications for complementing the language exchange experience. We opened up a Moodle page from NineHub in order to establish a central location for learners and teachers to collaborate. NineHub has been working out well so far and to my knowledge is the only free Moodle host available at this time. Moodle provides a good way for learners to share their reflections and continue their correspondence, asynchronously or synchronously, throughout the week. Since my particular class is a listening and speaking class, we also are using VoiceThread as a means for learners to practice these skills by reflecting on the experience to a real audience. The good thing about Moodle is that VoiceThreads can be embedded so learners can access everything within the Moodle page. There are certainly other applications available that do the same thing but Skype, Moodle, and VoiceThread are serving our purposes well at this time.
It would be great to hear from others who are participating in similar experiences.