Have Your Language Students Speak With Real People, Native Speakers!

Concurrent Session 8
MERLOT MERLOT Award Winner

Session Materials

Brief Abstract

The Mixxer is a free social networking language exchange site integrated with Skype and hosted at Dickinson College.  Individuals can find language partners on their own as well as submit writing for feedback. Instructors have additional functions to organize exchanges during or outside of class hours.

Presenters

Language Technology Specialist at Dickinson College. Creator of The Mixxer, www.language-exchanges.org. Interested in computer mediated communication, games, and social media. Blog at https://www.language-exchanges.org/blogs/bryantt

Extended Abstract

The Mixxer is a free social networking site for language learners hosted by Dickinson College.  It’s set up much the same way as Facebook with profile pages and a messaging system.  Unlike Facebook, the purpose of the Mixxer is to connect language partners.  Users specify their native language and the language(s) they would like to practice when they register.  They can then search for partners based on their languages and contact them.  Once they’ve agreed on a day and time, most users then connect via Skype    People can also submit writing to the site and receive feedback and corrections from native speakers.

Instructors interested in connecting their students should contact me via email, my address is on the front page, and ask for teacher permissions.  Once I have made them teachers on the site, they have three options.

1.  Have the students find their own partner and Skype outside of class.  The students sign up, create their own account and arrange to meet their partner(s).  It is best to factor in unreliable partners/students, so I'd recommend giving them advanced notice.  We usually say to do it once or twice a month, so if there's a problem, they can reconnect or find someone else.  English speakers should never have a problem finding partners.  If the instructor wishes, I can also provide a link that limits the search to users who have registered for events (see below) to speak with our students.  These are generally regular and experienced users, so it may save some time and trouble.

2.  Find a partner class.  In addition to the regular profile search, teachers can also search for other teachers to a partner class.  Keep in mind logistics can be challenging with different time zones, class hours, lab or internet availability and expectations.  Those interested in this format may also want to check out uni-collaboration.eu.

3.  Schedule an event.  I mentioned it above, and we use this function the most.  Instructions and more details are available to teachers on the site.  Those interested will need a computer lab with Skype.  The instructor can invite native speakers to sign-up on the site to contact them and their students at a given time.  On the day of the exchange, the instructor then matches each individual from the site who signed up with one of their students.  In our experience attendance on both sides is rarely perfect, so there will likely be some three person Skype calls. I am happy to walk any instructor through their first event.