#HowIBoomalang is a series of interviews with educators sharing how and why they implement Boomalang conversations. Below are selected quotations from the interview.
“Even shy people who would not speak in class loved Boomalang.”
Classes: Beginner + Intermediate Spanish
UNC-Greensboro was eager to implement Boomalang to supplement the students’ weekly "practice hour" requirement. Senior Lecturer Wendy Jones-Worden is one of the professors integrating Boomalang into her curriculum.
“I’ve been able to use it in a face-to-face, online, and our modified class. The modified class is an adjusted regular class to meet the needs of students that struggle in the traditional classroom,” shares Wendy. “I made [Boomalang] a requirement. And by making it count for completion, students were more motivated. For my face-to-face classes it was considered quiz grades on top of their regular quizzes so it could boost their quiz average. For the online class it was just a separate grade called ‘Boomalang.’”
Over the course of the semester, students are expected to complete eight conversations. Before students’ first conversation, she made sure students had a toolkit of phrases ready to better communicate with their Boomalang conversation partners. “If you are just saying ‘¿Qué?’ all the time, that doesn’t mean what you think it means. That’s more of an element of surprise,” explains Wendy. “If you don’t understand something, then you need to say ‘no entiendo’ because that lets the Boomalang speaker know that they have to rephrase what they said. If you say ‘repité’, the speaker knows that you didn’t hear them. And if you say ‘mas despacio’ they know they are speaking too fast.”
Wendy was pleasantly surprised by the impact Boomalang had on her students. Of the 40 students surveyed during the pilot program, 98% loved it. “Even shy people who would not speak in class loved Boomalang.”
Students shared the following feedback at the end of the semester:
“Engaging in real conversations helped my understanding.”
“I liked how we were able to choose who we wanted to talk to and there was a wide variety of speakers.”
“I liked Boomalang – it helped us see that our Spanish learning isn’t going to waste.”
“I was able to respond quickly and confidently unlike before.”
“Boomalang allowed me to further my Spanish speaking skills by conversing with nice people”
“As part of students’ final oral exam, they work in groups of two or three to talk for ten minutes. In the past, I would set the timer and they’d be struggling to get to the 10-minute mark,” Wendy mentions.
“This time [after integrating Boomalang], they couldn’t finish covering all of the topic. And they went for more than ten minutes. I couldn’t get them to stop. They were so comfortable talking that they just kept going. Now it wasn’t perfect, but they kept talking. That, to me, was amazing. To me that was the biggest success. They weren’t afraid to talk anymore.”
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Alison, Community Engagement