08 December 2013

Skype in the Target Language: Setup


After an awkward class Skype session or five, I've resorted to having students prepare a sort of script for what to do when. Setting the schema of the conversation beforehand is essential., but since the conversation is spontaneous, it's not a you-read-this-I-read-that script, but sort of a playbook for what to do in different situations. 

I did make an actual booklet template that I posted on Teachers Pay Teachers (sample page pictured here), but this is how I suggest breaking the pages down if you want to, say, have your students figure out what goes where:

1. Introduction: Who/where/what/how are you?
Give your name, where you're contacting them from, and in what capacity you are contacting them. Exchange some pleasantries.
  • Buenos días, me llamo __________
  • Soy estudiante en _________ y quiero hablar con ustedes de _______
  • ¿Cómo están hoy? Aquí estamos emocionados/felices/nerviosos.
2. Topic: What do you want to talk about?
Establish the general theme of your question(s) before launching into the first one. Be sure to have a rephrase ready, plus possible examples to help prompt if you're still not understood (plus it helps understand their answers if you have an idea what they might say).

  • ¿Me pueden contar algo sobre ______?
  • [Pregunta] ___________________________
  • [Pregunta versión 2] ______________________
  • [Respuestas posibles] _______   _______  _______
3. Clarification: Can you repeat/explain?
Be ready to ask them to say it again, slower,  louder, or in a different way. If you still don't understand, repeat what you heard and ask what a specific part means or if they can give examples. If possible, rephrase their answer for assurance. 
  • Otra vez, más despacio, por favor.
  • No se oye. Otra vez más fuerte, por favor.
  • No entiendo. ¿Qué quiere decir ______?
  • ¿Dijo 《 ________》?
  • ¿Quiere decir que _________?
  • ¿Me pueden explicar ________?

4. Response: I understand! 
Once you're clear on what their response is, you should acknowledge it and react appropriately to what they said, indicating whether you are pleased, surprised, saddened, impressed, curious, or simply in agreement. It is also a good idea to offer your own response to the question for comparison, if only to reinforce the connection in your own mind. 
  • ¡Qué bien/padre/chévere/chido/bárbaro!
  • ¡No me diga!
  • ¿En serio?
  • ¡Qué lástima!
  • ¡Increíble! 
  • ¡Felicidades!
  • ¿Por qué es así?
  • Yo también/A mí también.
  • Yo tampoco/Ni a mí tampoco.
  • Yo sí/ A mí sí. 
  • Yo no/ A mí no.
  • Por mi parte...
And of course, they must always end with ¡Gracias!

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