Saturday, December 29, 2012

Google Voice

Every Thursday night on Twitter, from 8-9pm, there is a Foreign Language chat.  If you enter #langchat you can be connected with Foreign Language educators from around the world.  (I'm sure this pertains to other disciplines as well. )  Yes, the chat is kind of late at night, and sometimes I am so exhausted I really don't want to participate, but I have been exposed to some wonderful resources by interacting with these other professionals.

One such resource that I kept hearing a lot about is Google Voice.  For a FL teacher who has 25+ students in 4 out of 5 classes, making sure that every student speaks every day in the target language is a daunting task.  Yes, we go to the language lab and assess them on their speaking skills, but then we have to listen to 25+ recordings later which usually run 1-3 minutes long, depending on the course.

So, I set up a Google Voice account and got a phone number.  Initially it asks you to link it to your cell phone, which I didn't want to do. After the initial set up, I changed the settings, (thanks to Ben Revkin!) and the voicemails go directly to my Google account.  My cell phone never rings!

You should have seen the look on the students faces when I put my phone number on the board!  "Why is our teacher giving us her phone number?" (That must of been kind of weird in all actuality.)  I explained the purpose and gave them their first prompt; "¿Qué hiciste ayer?  Menciona 2 cosas."   (What did you do yesterday?  Mention 2 things.)  While they were working on their packets, I allowed 2 at a time to go into the hall to call me.  They loved it!

Plus, I could give instant feedback by texting them back any corrections in what they said.  Some texted  me back another response.  I even had one student text me on Christmas Eve wishing my family and I a happy holiday!  Learning beyond the classroom, priceless!

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