#HowIBoomalang is a series of interviews with educators sharing how and why they implement Boomalang conversations. Below are selected quotations from the interview.
"Taking it out of the textbook and into real life makes it all worthwhile. I've seen that from my students in the reflections that they've written and coming into class, they talk highly about their conversations."
Classes: Elementary & Intermediate
Looking for new ways to motivate students in elementary and intermediate Spanish classes, Dr. Lisa Merschel, Senior Lecturer at Duke University, turned to technology as a tool to inspire. "I get pitches all the time from companies to integrate all types of technology, but Boomalang was different. It caught my eye for ease-of-use and youthfulness of native speakers. I thought this could be a fantastic way to connect my students in a significant way with native speakers around the world."
"Boomalang finds speakers online who are fun, reliable, and trustworthy. Students can be afraid to talk to strangers, especially when there's video involved. To alleviate the fear factor, I have my students begin speaking in pairs to Boomalang partners instead of one-on-one," Lisa shares. "They have a terrific time in pairs because they have the support of their classmate and can rely on them to fill in the gaps when they don't understand something."
Lisa typically assigns two (15-min.) conversations a semester, but plans to increase to the three. Some of her Duke colleagues assign 5-6. After each video-conferencing session, students were asked to write a brief reflection on their experience.
"I'm completely confident with students [leveraging Boomalang]. It makes me smile as a professor to see my students get excited about these conversations, and they are so proud of the conversations they've had.
[My students] say this is an amazing experience because they really get to practice their Spanish in a meaningful, personal way which is our goal, especially at the lower levels. Taking it out of the textbook and into real life makes it all worthwhile. I've seen that from my students in the reflections that they've written and coming into class they talk highly about their [Boomalang] conversations.
Students are more confident. They see connections now where they didn't see connections before [related to our lesson plans]. It's not just isolated grammar topics that we're looking at. We're looking at tools that we can use to communicate with someone and apply those tools in a meaningful way."
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Alison, Community Engagement