Connected learners… using Google Hangout in Modern Language

At the beginning of the year, I always run around trying to get things organized, and mapping it all out. This year, my plan is about making French real, no cheesy posters, just real language, lots of speaking and connecting students to authentic sources online, and leveraging edtech to improve student learning. Hangouts

To kick off the year, I do a week or so of diagnostic tasks to see what level the learners are at. For my writing sample, I found a great article on Global Voices – en français by Lova Rakatomalala discussing whether French was harder than other languages to learn. Like all great blog posts, it posed a question to generate discussion. I had the students read the article and comment based on their experience learning French. There were many positives from this one 20 minute activity. I got a writing sample from my students, they contributed to an online article/francophone community and when I reached out to invite the author to join our class via Google Hangout, I got the author and 2 translators/editors from the journal to help me plan it all!

We met via Google Hangout and discussed what the first chat would look like. I shared my unit plan via Google Doc, and was looking for a one off, but Claire jumped in and shared her network with me. She rhymed off all of the people who would join us via Hangout and we could do a regular instalment. I was ecstatic!

We met up with Philippe Menkoue earlier in the unit, who is a teacher in Cameroun and a writer for Thot-Cursus – a site that has excellent articles we use regularly in my courses. The conversation was great and was centred around the use of social media and technology in our daily lives. One of my students read his very own article on the changing pedagogy in Africa; one of many articles he has written on various subjects…

I am happy to say that I am now connected with Global Voices – en français and it’s been a great experience so far. I will be reconnecting my students with francophones from around the world for authentic exchanges, with the ultimate goal of connecting them with a native speaker, with whom they can interact and improve their language.

The students loved the experience! They couldn’t believe we were speaking with a teacher/journaliste from Cameroun at 9am in the morning in our French class. In the Hangout with Claire, Suzanne and Lova, the collaboration was great. They had wonderful ideas that I was able to implement into my course, and I very much look forward to collaborating again this term.

In my DELF training two years ago, our instructor insisted that French be taught using authentic sources, and I couldn’t agree more. Students need to experience real language to be able to use it in authentic situations. Using a tool like Google Hangouts on Air, or Skype in the Classroom allow us to bridge the gap so to speak. It allows us to bring those rich and meaningful immersive experiences to our students on a regular basis.

I would be keen to partner up with a class for a Face Pals – using Google Hangouts on Air as a means to practice language, collaborate with others and get feedback based on video link of the conversation. Is anyone keen on exploring a Collaborative Unit after the winter break? – I am open to exploring any themes with my Gr 11 & 12 French courses.

2 Replies to “Connected learners… using Google Hangout in Modern Language”

  1. Derek,
    This is a great example of how teachers can change the way that students learn. What an exciting venture you’re starting on. Where would you place it on the SAMR scale? What element of TIM would you align it with?
    When it comes to TPACK, I’d say that you have definitly hit the “sweet spot”: that point where you’ve got solid Content Knowledge, combining it with what you know to be effective Pedagogical Knowledge, and are now using your Technology Knowledge to enhance the learning opportunities.


    • Hey Garth,
      I would think that I am in modification zone, but if I can achieve my goal of placing students with a native speaker who they can chat with throughout the year about interests, that’s when I will be redefining.
      With regards to TIM, I think it’s in the venue of the authentic and collaborative elements. With respect to where students are, I would say with this hangout they are in the entry stage but throughout the unit we started with Entry Level and moved to Adaptation with some signs of Infusion most recently….

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