Thursday 24 January 2008

Make your own chat room

Chatmaker helps you to do just that! I'm amazed at just how easy things like this have become these days and it's free! I used this website to create this chat room:
It took probably less than 2 minutes!

Here's a quick tutorial showing how it was done.
Chatmaker tutorial (Flash 202k)

This is the kind of thing that you used to need your own server and a lot of knowledge to create, Now anyone can do it.

How to use this with your students
Creating a chat room especially for distance students can be really useful, but don't just expect them to use it. You'll need to set them some goals and tasks.

If you can get your students using it, then you'll also need to decide what level of English you want them to aim for. Do you want them using text speak? e.g. "W8 4 ME, I’M L8, SOZ "OR Would you prefer them to express that in 'plain English'; "Wait for me I'm late . Sorry". Both have some value, but make it clear to students which you're after.

If you want to develop their 'text speak' then there are some good materials here on one of the British Council's sites for teachers.

Some possible tasks you could set could include:
  • Interview role plays (make one student a reporter and they have to interview another student by chat.
  • Mystery guest. Tell your students that they will interview a famous person and they have to ask questions to guess who it is (You could answer the Qs yourself OR get a student to pretend to be thee mystery celebrity)
  • Interview an expert. Get students to interview an expert on a specific topic. they should research the topic first to make some interesting questions, then interview each other to see who is the real expert
  • Chat room Quiz. Get the students to write general knowledge questions to quiz each other.
  • Trivia Quiz. You can be the quiz master, ask questions and award points to the student who gets the answer first.
This kind of text chat interaction can be really useful if you want to work on both accuracy and fluency because it pushes students to produce language in 'real time' , but you also have a written record which you can copy and past into a word document and get students to analyse and correct.

It's worth being aware that in chat rooms sentences don't necessarily come on screen in the order they would in a face to face conversation. You may get two questions appearing and then two answers. learning to cope with this can be a challenging but useful skill. You can also use this as a follow up exercise and get the students to put the sentences in the order that they should have appeared.

What I liked about it
  • Extremely easy to use and create
  • Very simple interface
  • Very fast to get working

What I wasn't so sure about
  • There is no logging in required, so you can't really tell who it is you're speaking with and so there's no accountability for what people say.
  • If you use this with your students I would advise creating a new room each time and as close to your meet up time as possible, that way it's unlikely you will get any unwanted visitors

Happy chatting and if you do drop by the chat room I created we might just have a quick chat.




Ingrid said...

Great idea! It really sounds simple. I'm going to use it tomorrow with my extra lessons for sixthgraders. I was wondering how to manage a quiz in a classroom situation and your solution came just right, worth trying! Thank you.

Nik Peachey said...

Hi Ingrid

That's great. Hope the lesson goes well.


Nik Peachey

José Ramón said...

And, well, how did the lesson go? It does seem like a really good idea to me and I'm curious to know if it's one that works too.

José Ramón

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