On last weeks’ live event one of the most popular sections was where everyone could comment and find schools in other countries to do video ( or even skype) exchanges with.
It was hugely popular but unfortunately Facebook took down the comments when the video expired. So right now we have a new permanent place where you can find parter teachers. It’s on Facebook again, so you can see everyone’s details and get in contact more easily.
So just pop over, write up a comment with where you are and off we go!
Ninja Tip: Lots of you were wanting to jump straight into live skype exchanges. Don’t do this 🙂 Skype takes a lot of prep and confidence with the kids, so first do a few non-live video exchanges and then once you’ve built up a relationship with the other school, then it’s time to do some amazing skype lessons – including the famous Mystery Skype lesson 🙂
So what’s so special about these video projects? Here we go …
Genki English is about getting kids talking English about stuff they love as quickly as possible. It’s not about boring textbooks or stifling grammar, it’s about enthusing the kids to get them super confident and dying to speak to kids in other countries all over the world.
Projects – to really use the English
The songs and games are a great way for the kids to get used to talking and listening, to get excited about English and getting all the basics they need. They are a key first part of the programme.
Then comes the real deal, actually using this English in a real life situation. This is the reason we teach English, so they can actually use it to talk to people. Thanks to the internet you can do this quicker than ever before, usually after a year or so, but maybe after even only 5 or 6 lessons.
You want the kids to able to talk to kids of their own age about things they enjoy. The tick is to start small, and gradually build up.
A simple idea is for the kids to photograph their school lunch. Then record them describing it in English. Then email this off to a school in another country and wait for the reply. It’s simple English ( e.g. We have potatoes and rice and meat. I like meat. I don’t like potatoes etc.), it’s something they get excited about ( all kids love food!), and they are really using the English to communicate with someone who can’t speak their native language. Just like kids talking in the playground, it’s all sound and pictures, so there is no reading or writing. It’s all very exciting. Don’t worry about the techie aspects of it, ask an IT teacher, they are always willing to help. You can find out more on the School Lunch Exchange page
Or how about a lunch from French Guiana?
Ninja Tip: If you have an iPhone it’s this easy to do!
Other ideas include:
Describe their pets
Again a favourite of the kids. There’s more on the pet project page.
Get them to describe their favourite toy or video game
Always popular. There will be lots of words they don’t know how to say in English. This is good because you can teach them and as they want to use it straight away, it’ll stick in their heads. Remember: keep it simple.
Do a weather exchange
Everyday the kids take it in turns to send a photo of the weather today, and record a short commentary ( e.g. It’s snowy today). The exchange schools does the same thing. Make sure you get a good system of choosing which kid does it on which day as they often fight over whose turn it is! Now in class instead of just saying “What’s the weather like?”, you can say “What’s the weather like in Vancouver?” or any other place you exchange with.
Write a picture book.
This is a great project, the kids write a story for a picture book. They send this to a school in another country and the children there draw the pictures based on what your kids have written! You could even try a different country per page. If you teach writing, the kids can write it themselves, if not, they tell you what to write and you put it up on the board, then send it off as an email later.
Write a song or poem
Your kids think of one line, the kids abroad think of the next.
Introduce your school or town to the world.
Get them to describe their homework in English.
Things like maths are fairly universal the world over. Explaining in English can often help the kids understand the math better.
Links to other subjects such as geography – volcanoes!
Kids in the UK study about Japan in school. Why not have your Japanese students make reports about Japanese volcanoes or the huge amount of snow up north!
Webcam to Oz – all day, all day everyday
Put a computer in the corner of the classroom. Use a webcam and skype (it’s free) to keep permanently connected to a school in a different country but similar time zone ( e.g. Asia and Australia, Europe and Africa, North & South Americas etc.). When your kids have breaks they can turn up the sound and listen to the lessons the other class is having. If they both have break together the kids can chat or play games. Once it’s always there the kids use it in amazing ways, all the time brushing up their language skills. Try it, it’s free!
These are just a few ideas, listen to what the kids talk about in the playground and you can come up with hundreds more, I’m sure.
Class projects work better than individual ones
Doing the project together as a class is a lot easier to manage than trying to keep up with lots of kids interacting with lots of other kids.
Start the projects as a one off
Due to school holidays, days off etc, a one-off project is always easier to handle than a continuing one. Aim to just do one exchange. If the kids get into things you can always choose different schools for the same project or even maybe come back to the same school for a future project.
Ask the kids!
Make sure the projects are ones the kids want to do, not what the teacher wants to do. The idea is to get the kids excited, so find out what they want to talk about.
Where to find partners?
Put a comment up on the Genki English Facebook post!
Or kids can keep going backwards and forwards asking each other questions:
The cool thing about these projects is that it’s not just a class game or town project, your kids are really making something that you will be sending to kids in another country! Just think back to when you were at school, how excited would you have been!
Then the really cool bit is when they get the replies back. These are not just some textbook or some TV programme everyone can get their hands on, this is something that kids in another country hundreds of miles away have recorded and photographed just for you! The kids really get a kick out of it. And it really feeds their desire to learn new English, to do more songs and games, because they want to use it to do more projects with more kids in more countries! Be careful though, they quickly become addicted and teachers have found themselves being paid to escort kids half way across the globe to visit their new found friends!
So get cracking with the songs and games and as soon as possible, get your kids talking and find your partner!!
Thank you for all the great advice.
I dont know Richard everytime you have something cool going on, I always seem to get ill! This time thankfully I stayed out of hospital! ha ha. SO gutted to miss out on you and Margit.
Anyway Im back on my feet and look forward to trying some of these ideas in the future. Thanks again.
Ahu from Ankara,Turkey.İ love your idea of partner school project but i have no facebook.can you tell me another way of getting touch with other countries students to make my students speak English.Thanks
Facebook is the easiest and safest way of doing this at the moment. I’d recommend setting up a Facebook account, but only use it for business use!
Video exchanges are great, but the next level would be allowing students to be able to communicate with each other in a Facebook like SNS, but of course with a lot more privacy and security for young learners. Does anyone know of such a system?
Tech wise WhatsApp or even good old fashioned email seem to be the best. However the main thing is the sustainability, so I think for the majority of students the class based approach seems to be the best option right now. And then the ones who do hit it off personally can of course keep in touch just like regular friends do!