Home > No. 24 Skype and Pamela and Mixxer

No. 24 Skype and Pamela and Mixxer (2007年01月01日)

カテゴリー: The Treasure Hunt Club
Marcel Van Amelsvoort
(Kanagawa Prefectural College of Foreign Studies)
Welcome back everyone. I hope the holiday season was relaxing for you and you are back in your best condition. This month I’d like to look at some emerging uses for a great tool. I think most LET members are familiar with the free internet-based phone service Skype already (http://www.skype.com/intl/ja/helloagain.html for the Japanese site).

It is now being widely used by individuals and businesses and it grew 80% last year. All you need is an internet connection and a headset with a microphone and you can start connecting with the millions of people who are already using it regularly. But Skype is not only useful for phoning friends for free (so long as they are registered on Skype), even when those friends are in other countries. Skype has tremendous potential as a tool for language teaching and learning.

First, Skype can be used nicely for assessment, especially with Pamela. Pamela is a software tool that allows Skype users to add new functions: voicemail and recording, for example. Previously, Pamela was only available as a separate program, and it wasn’t free. In the latest version of Skype (3.0), however, a Pamela voice recorder is available as a free extension that you can load. You simply select “Tools” and “Do More” from the menu and then click on the pink “P” icon for the Pamela voice recorder. This will allow you to download the function which then works together with Skype. With this function, you can use Skype to record what students say when they call you on Skype. These recordings can then be used for assessment.

Secondly, Skype can be used to give students a chance to speak with people in other countries. There are now some sites that allow people to connect who are interested in using Skype to practice English. At the Mixxer (http://www.language-exchanges.org/), there were 6726 individuals looking for a language exchange partners and 180 teachers looking for a language exchanges for their classes on a recent morning I visited. I must emphasize that I have not yet tried this myself with my own students, but it looks very promising and I am planning to give it a try this year. Maybe I’ll see some other LET members on Skype.

Finally, best wishes to all LET members for a healthy and happy and educationally prosperous 2007.