Friday, April 7, 2017

Using technology to connect and learn English together - Winnipeg, Belém and Altamira

I had a wonderful teaching experience with my teacher friends Derek Shettler and Shanne Szabados here in Winnipeg last Friday. We invited Professor Gilberto Araujo, from Altamira, and the undergraduate student and research assistant Jean Roberto Silva, from Belém to coordinate students from two campuses of the Universidade Federal do Pará, in the Brazilian Amazon.

This initiative aimed to help students to get to know other students to practice English and interact using social networks. The purpose of this first meeting was to get them to know each other and learn information about their cultures. If this project continues, we are going to have specific topics for each session.

We decided to use Facebook Messenger since this is the most popular social network among the students. They added each other as friends so they could chat.

We could see that the students enjoyed the experience of chatting with people from different countries and from various backgrounds. Some of them even shared pictures and exchanged information about cultural aspects of their home countries.

As it was our first meeting, we faced a few challenges. The first one was the number of participants here and there. So we decided to put our students in pairs here to chat with a student in Brazil. The second challenge was that it was not very easy for some of the students to find their partners on Facebook. As there are many people with similar names, we spent some minutes trying to figure out who the right person was. The third challenge was that some students forgot their passwords because most students access their Facebook profiles using a smartphone app. The last challenge was that some students could not add people as friends because of privacy settings. Anyway, I will pay closer attention to these aspects next time.

Despite all these challenges, I have reasons to believe it was a very enriching experience for all the students here in Canada and in Brazil.

Students in Belém - Universidade Federal do Pará

Students in Winnipeg 

Me, Derek, and Shanne

Students in Winnipeg

I would like to thank Derek, Shanne, Gilberto and Jean for making this meeting possible. I hope we can do it again soon. :-)


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