Skype can provide an open window to interact with the world. For young children, it can make different languages and cultures take on a whole new meaning. Skype can be downloaded for free on any computer or tablet device. Similar results can be achieved with other videochat platforms like Facetime or Google Hangout. Here are some ideas for using Skype with young children – at school or at home:
Here is an example based on my new children’s story book: New Words, New Friends.
Materials needed on both sides:
Begin with greetings in English and Spanish
Introduce the key words of the book such as: ball, paintbrush, paper, paint, point and show, slowly and clearly, patient, play, and friends.
Introduce the title, the author, the illustrator, and the four characters of the story.
If the children are ready – read through the book from beginning to end, then prepare for a second reading as follows:
Read the story. Stop at “So if you ask her to share, she probably won’t.” Talk about how the boys might be feeling and how Violet might be feeling. Ask if anyone has any ideas to help everyone feel better.
Next read the three solutions proposed by Teacher Nan. Invite children to act out how they would do each of the strategies.
Next use the materials and actions to imitate and talk about how the children’s activities in the second half of the book were more successful to help everyone get along and play together. The Skype partner should actively participate along with the children – responding to what each child is doing and joining in the conversations. The large nametags will really be helpful at this point!
At the end of the book, invite the children to join together with the Skype partner to recite the last page of the book as a reminder to be a caring and supportive friend.
Have children give the high five sign to each other and to the Skype partner.
Digital Decisions: Choosing the Right Technology Tools for Early Childhood Education by F. Simon and K. Nemeth, Gryphon House 2012
“Using Technology as a Teaching Tool for Dual Language Learners in Preschool through Grade 3” by K. Nemeth and F. Simon, Young Children March 2013
Technology Skype in the Classroom website https://education.skype.com
“Responsive interactions are key to toddlers’ ability to learn language” This study showed that toddlers can learn a new language via live interactions with a responsive adult on video chats like Skype, but gain little from passive viewing of unresponsive videos. Science Daily, September 24, 2013 http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130924091802.htm
By Karen N. Nemeth