#HowIBoomalang is a series of interviews and guest posts with educators, sharing how and why they implement Boomalang conversations.
"This opportunity to have unforgettable conversations with three native speakers was equal to the cost of a standard restaurant or Spanish theatre class trip."
Class: Spanish College Extension
While attending an ACTFL Conference in Boston, I had the pleasure of hearing about how Boomalang was being used by peers to allow for global and authentic communication between World language learners from various cities. Reaching out and setting this opportunity up for my students seemed like a necessary task.
The process was not difficult at all. I first polled my students who were very interested, got approval from my immediate supervisor, and to my surprise learned from administration that there was money in the budget, earmarked for technology, which could be spent on this experience. The last part was a surprise, as I had already planned to send letters home to the parents of my college extension students or host a fundraiser. This opportunity to have unforgettable conversations with three native speakers was equal to the cost of a standard restaurant or Spanish theatre class trip.
My students were able to schedule appointments with featured speakers from various Spanish speaking countries when it was convenient for them. This was definitely the greatest feature since pupils had multiple extracurricular activities and responsibilities after school. It also built their college and career readiness skills. It was the responsibility of students to schedule and complete one conversation per marking period which I used as a speaking quiz.
As with anything new, students were nervous. I set them up with key words and phrases to support their conversations and provide assistance. Since conversations were recorded, I was able to listen in to see how students did and was pleasantly surprised to find that they truly enjoyed the assignment, had fantastic interactions, and were looking forward to their next conversations. Topics ranged from favorite soccer teams, hobbies, the TV show Friends, hours spent practicing the musical instruments they played, to annoying younger sibling disputes. Even if only for fifteen or thirty minutes for each conversation, students were able to connect with the world.
In the past I have served as a group leader for international trips to Barcelona, Madrid, and Paris and know how valuable these authentic conversations can be. I also know that not every student is able to participate on these excursions. Boomalang allowed for these conversations to happen much more easily and with screened, caring individuals whose interests were accommodating language learners while encouraging them to take their conversational skills to the next level, helping them to learn city specific vocabulary.
Bringing Boomalang into my World language class was a great decision and I encourage you to do some research, reach out to the Boomalang staff, and find ways to do the same.
Francesca McAuliffe is a 14th year, trilingual NYCDOE world language educator at New Dorp High School. She is also the PSAL boys varsity soccer coach at her alma mater Susan Wagner. Francesca received her master's degree in administration and supervision from Pace University and recently participated in the Staten Island Leadership Pipeline. She has presented at the annual iLearn NYC Symposium and is a certified IO Power User, d2L, and Apple Educator. Francesca enjoys her career and world travel. Follow Francesca on Twitter @Franciii500
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