For the last few years I have been co-ordinating school projects working together with lots of different European partners. The one major goal for which I have aimed over these years, is that the pupils, and their teachers, would find that – my European friends are not that different from me. All kids are the same, but different- In these projects I have always included the use of videocommunication, because I believe it is important that the pupils meet each other, even if it is only via screens. In my case, my pupils are too young to travel and actually meet with their peers, but given modern ICT-technology they can meet, without leaving home. For me who am Swedish, English has been the common language when video-communicating.
I work with pupils from ages 6 to 12 and although their English is not that good in their younger age, they learn quickly and by having recurring video-communication they are triggered to become better and better. They get a real hands on experience about the importance of good English. I also believe that videocommunication gives and encourages so many more ways to communicate other than just talking to each other. This is about speaking English. Now, about communication. The pupils need to overcome the nervousness and anxiety that comes with a “blind date” on the internet, and this one is with sound and moving pictures. This means that “my” Swedish pupils work with their questions and practice how to talk, discuss and prepare on their English in lessons. And, on the Skype conferences they go LIVE.
Skype is the program which I have used for the conferences. It is free, easy to navigate and another big advantage….many of the pupils can help me if I lose myself in the program. They are quite used to using Skype. Its not only about talking, they also see each other and each others classrooms. Similarities and differences, the diversity of Europe. Johan Eggers is a teacher in the primary school and kindergarten at Rodeby primary school (Sweden), responsible for the morning and afternoon centres, which he refers to as educarecentres. He is the co-ordinator of International School Projects. 5 The way I have used this is by having a Skype-relay with all partners and a given theme. The theme has been obligatory since I have always had a project to report back to. It is also nice to have the talk maybe divided into four parts. The first one would be establishing contact, greetings etc. The second one is about the theme questions from both parts. Then it would be time for the most popular part, the pupils own questions, time to discuss music, football teams etc. The fourth part is about closing and saying goodbye. During these talks which sometimes could involve 7 countries and over 100 pupils I have many golden memories. On one occasion I remember how my pupils, talking to our English partners about how the Swedish football player Zlatan Ibrahimovic crushed England with a bicycle kick from 30 metres.
Another memory is when my 5th graders tried to speak Croatian with the Croatian kids. Pupils discussing if One Direction is the best pop group ever or not. A great feeling of being together and European. And also very funny. On another occasion we had a Facetime conference via iPads and sang songs to each other and showed photos. This time without understanding a word each other said. Still it was great fun and a good learning experience. I encourage all to use video-communication as it enriches school and gives the pupils good practice in preparing their talks, language skills etc.