Wednesday, June 30, 2010
This year, I invested some time and energy to work with ePals and found two classrooms, one in France and one in Spain, which agreed to exchange emails with my class. We spent a lot of time in the beginning just trying to get the logistics down, however, and didn't start exchanging emails until January.
My students were excited about the exchange at first, but, as time went on, and we didn't hear very often from our email correspondents, the enthusiasm waned. Between conflicting vacation times, and lack of time at each end, I'd say we had a total of four 'exchanges' with our French class, and but two or three with our Spanish class, which started later in the year.
I take some lessons from this. One is to start earlier. The teachers I worked with have tentatively agreed to work with me in the coming year, so that shouldn't be difficult. Another is to organize the emails around a theme or joint project. We did this a bit with the French class, where we would ask the students to talk about their families in one series of emails, to talk about their towns in another, and so on. More could be done with this.
I also wonder if we couldn't get more of a joint project with classes who have a better command of English. I know how difficult it is to express concepts in a language you're just learning, and my students this year, with the occasional exception, just knew English. I'm thinking of trying to come up with a joint story on some theme. Something for me to look into this summer.
Photo: View of Périgueux, France - Photo by Christine Lécroart