Tuesday, August 3, 2010

#4, 2010: Ring, Ring, Why Don't You Give Me a Call : Mobile Phone English

This week I have introduced phonecasting to my ESL learners with surprising results. (That's not really true ... I knew they would love it!) Noticed that the use of Mobiles and home phones for quick recording tasks immediately appealed to students at all levels of lingustic and technological competence. The recording procedure is infinitely easier than other voice tools (eg. Voxopop - though in other respects, not necessarily better) and the familiarity of the phone as a communication tool seems to help in circumventing fears and certainly cuts down the time it takes to teach students how to put their voice on the internet.

I have set up a Duke Street Phlog at ipadio.com : http://www.ipadio.com/phlogs/DukeStreet/

Level 2 and 3 students started with a simple exercise based on telling the time. I pitched it as "a little experiment" and used the landline in my office (with speaker-phone switched on) to demonstrate the procedure. Each took a turn at phoning in their task and were amazed at how easy it was.

We then moved back into the classroom, flashed up the ipadio phlog site on the whiteboard and listened to the recordings. Before long the SpinVox scripts were generated for each recording made and students could see their "speech as writing".

There was an immediate sense of achievement. No one had to engage with "layers of screen" (logins -> finding the right page -> finding the discussion ->mastering the recording client -> testing ->uploading, etc) or clunky tech extensions (getting headphones or microphones to work). The familiarity of the telephone worked wonders in cutting through frustrations.

Some students were concerned whether the service really is free, if their phones and mobiles could be hijacked or tracked by spammers, advertisers, Telcos, stalkers and the like ... but once they were assured this was not the case and that they were phoning in with numbers and pins that were not related to their own phone numbers in any way, they relaxed --- and could not be stopped!

I printed off a simple instruction sheet for each student to follow and this will be used at home this week to complete another simple task.

My Level 3 students working on VPAM544: Australian Government (Elective) are listening to a range of Community Language Radio programs embedded in this week's lesson on my Blog.


They will phone in short summaries which will then be compared with written summaries they submit via a Goggle Docs form which I have similarly embedded. A couple of screenshots:

It has been a fascinating and rewarding day. I am looking forward to seeing what my students come up with and am thinking of various other ways in which I could use this technology effectively in class - and how my students could use it out of class.

And to think I don't even own a Mobile ! (yet)

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