#HowIBoomalang is a series of interviews with educators sharing how and why they implement Boomalang conversations. Below are selected quotations from the interview.
"When students understand the language, it's a high. It feels like a win for them, they feel successful."
Classes: Spanish 5 for IB students
"Being able to speak Spanish with other is important for every teacher," says Robin Villa, Modern Language Department Chair at Lee's Summit North High School. "I get excited anytime I can find a way to make connections to the real purpose of using Spanish.
If you try to set up a conversation online with speakers by yourself, it's not easy. It's very challenging to find the format and hold students accountable. Trying to do pen pals or video conference takes up about all your time to set up one conversation, unlike Boomalang's platform, which allows for timing flexibility and a variety of speakers to interact with."
"I was hoping through Boomalang conversations they feel comfortable and get practice with a real person with a real purpose that's not me. I love that [the speakers] are young; they're millennials. That's important for our students. It is great for them to feel a connection to people in other countries who are close to the same age and find some common ground.
We made it required for all Level 5 students in preparation for IB oral where they sit down with the teacher. We want them to be comfortable talking to us and speaking in general. For me, it goes beyond preparing for this exam, but also connecting with people in other countries and gaining confidence. Taking risk is a big part of learning any language. And for many, speaking to a native speaker is a huge risk. We purchased 5 conversations for each student and made it a course requirement. And they have to turn in work as a reflection piece."
"There is no way I could replicate this in the classroom except through Boomalang.
Although students can be unsure and nervous about these conversations, it's nice that I can assure them that the person on the other end will be sympathetic and empathetic as well. These people have been vetted; they've been taught to help people who are learning a language.
At the beginning they looked at me scared and wide-eyed, but I haven't gotten push back. My students have been accepting. I've had students come into class saying, 'I had the best Boomalang conversation last night. She's from Venezuela and is so interesting and fun to speak with. And I understood what she was saying.' When students understand the language, it's a high. It feels like a win for them, they feel successful.
I'm trying to get it district-wide."
Update May 2019: Robin successfully accomplished her goal of district-wide adoption for French and Spanish students with funds awarded by the Lee's Summit Educational Foundation.
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Alison, Community Engagement