Saturday, September 23, 2017

Skype Sessions with a Turkish English Teacher

I was lucky to get accepted into an exchange program that only two slots were available in every EFL country. On top of that, I was able to be with the best group, with amazing English teachers from many countries. To create more opportunities for Skype sessions, I actively kept on expressing my sincerity to invite them to talk about themselves and their cultures with my students through Skype.

Thanks to Seren, I can extend this great experience back in the States as well as help my students experience some Turkish culture. We exchanged ideas of how the class should be done step by step, such as her self-introduction, how we met, her trip to New York, her hometown, and so on. The idea was to encourage my students to listen to Seren and try to grasp the main idea even though they might come across words or expressions they didn't know. Also, since they are currently learning the past tense, so I got them to ask questions with it after Seren's presentation.

As usual, the actual class went quite well though we experienced some technical problems and awkwardness at the beginning. Halfway into the session, my students were gradually able to pick up what Seren said after I interrupted her and asked them questions that helped promote comprehension. Moreover, I called on four students to ask questions, which brought out interesting topics like the time difference between Taiwan and Turkey, her students' going to school at noon, and Turkish ice cream.

I posted pictures of this session on our WhatsApp forum and received positive feedback from the participants. I sincerely hope this would be off to a good start with more participants willing to give it a try.

Students' Feedback
“She is beautiful and like a big sister to us. It's interesting that we practiced what we learned from the textbook. I hope we can have more activities like this.”
“She is such a nice person. Even though I asked a stupid question, I was touched that she still tried her best to answer it.”
“I'm really glad the teacher invited another foreign English teacher to talk with us today. Hope there'll be more in the future.”
“Even though she deliberately spoke slowly, still I came across many words I don't understand. I really have to work harder on my vocabulary.”
“The sound quality of the speaker was not so good so that I couldn't understand some of the words she said.”
“I hope I can go to Turkey and have that ice cream some day.”
“I tried to guess what she said based on what I already understood.”

“I also would like to go to school at noon and leave at 6 pm.” 

Second Skype Session with Seren
It was really kind of Seren to conduct this class with me, with the seventh gifted students actively participating in this Skype session. They listened to her little self-introduction and presentation about her hometown attentively. Following that, Seren picked on some of them to answer simple questions, such as "What is your favorite subject?" and "If I come to your city, which place would you recommend to visit?". Finally, some students volunteered to ask her questions, even including "Do you have a boyfriend?".
It was really more interactive this time thanks to my new toy, the Logitech C922 webcam. The video quality, of course, was much better than the built-in one on my laptop. Also, I got to move the external webcam so that she could see every one of them clearly. Last but not least, I could even hold and move it close to them when they responded to her questions.
The audio quality has improved a lot, too. My Bluetooth microphone and speaker were working well throughout the whole class. It would be so annoying if we can't hear each other well.
These students' homeroom teacher, as usual, was observing and taking pictures in class. He told me that this class would benefit these smart students, for they got to experience what it was really like to communicate in English.

It was a pity that I didn't record the moment that everybody was laughing out loud when a boy actually asked her that very personal question.

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