5. “Let’s work on our Cyber Language Café”

4.1 Examples of activities during online sessions

As in face to face language sessions, within the online sessions there are several examples of activities that could stimulate language learning in an informal environment. Some of them are described below and provide a stimulus for teachers of L2 to migrants, so that they develop their online strategies and sets of activities depending on various factors like their learner’s needs, their educational background, their ICT skills, their technology restraints, their time availability etc.:

  • You are the journalist”: Ice breaker  -> Role play when one participant has to ask 3 questions another participant. Good for A1 and A2 participants, as they can just ask some already known questions, like “What’s your name?”, “Where do you come from?” etc. 
  • “Find the synonym Quiz”: The learners read parts of a given text – The facilitator tells them a word which is a synonym of one word of the text. (or writes the synonym on the Skype chat). The learner who finds first the word corresponding to the synonym, could get a prize (an emoticon). 
  • “The machine of Time” : A learner tells a story of what happened today or yesterday. The facilitator says “Stop! The machine of time gets us to ….tomorrow…(or today or yesterday)” and another learner has to repeat the story narrated in another time frame (using past or present or future tenses)
  • “ Yesterday – Today – Tomorrow”: Variation of the above using different skills. (writing – reading) Reading a given text in another tense to practice verbs grammar use in different tenses. The person saying or writing first the correct form would get a star-prize. 
  • “Chain of phrases- Surrealistic story”: Each one makes a phrase with a word/ phrase of the text or exercise – for vocabulary revision and passes on to the other student. Sometimes the story would be realistic and sometimes surrealistic! 
  • “I Act in a Role –play” with different topics. These could be also described in the Cyber Café’s Forum and a couple of learners could decide which role play to prepare and present. 
  • “Fill in the gaps by chatting”: The facilitator copies a short text (with relative vocabulary or grammar phenomena) in the Skype chat or the Cyber Café’s Forum and asks learners to cooperate in couples and find the missing words. They have some time to prepare it and fill it and then we would share it writing the correct types in the chat.  “Share your favorite song”: an activity of presentation and commenting on students’ posts in the Forum also. 
  • “I send my gift”: In case of a goodbye- farewell closing up activity. Each learner and facilitator posts on the Forum a “gift”, like a photo, a link, a recipe etc. 
  • “This week my best sites are….” Learners are encouraged to work in couples on Skype, so to help each other and potentially using the target language. The facilitator asks them to visit some resources of the Cyber Café’s platform, depending on their interests and find the 3 better sites for them. This activity could be organized as a “homework” for a next meeting in the Language Café’s sessions or the synchronous Cyber café’s sessions familiarizing learners in making a web quest with an already given set of material they would have to personalize.

4.2 Role of the facilitator

The facilitator should be aware of the fact that no solution can fit all needs and it is preferable to use a mix of different ICT based L2 learning resources, so to form a personal strategy in this kind of language teaching area. In general, the use of authentic content and interaction through Internet downloads, navigation and communication can be a cheap approach, supporting the profile of the “bricoleur” teacher and until now research shows that it is much appreciated by learners, who also tend to like the more interactive, game-like exercises and applications. 

Apart from the correct and inspired use of ICT resources, a good facilitator should be very careful with the group dynamics and creating a good pedagogical atmosphere in online settings.

  • To find and propose to the participants the online sources available and where they can find useful information and material
  • To help the participants to overcome any technical problems that they may face 
  • To organize online activities
  • To be able to use electronic sources rather than sources based on paper 
  • To find delicate and discreet ways of mistake correction 
  • To encourage learners to use the Online Community so that they share their language experiences