Imagine you have a beginners’ class. They know how to ask somebody’s name and have just learned how to say how old they are and to ask someone else their age. The key to becoming really confident with this new language –with any new language – and to prevent their forgetting it as soon as they move on, is to make sure they get lots of practice.
But how can you achieve this? How can you generate lots of speaking on so limited a topic? In most classes, asking and telling each other how old they are soon loses its momentum as they are all the same age! And besides, asking questions to which you already know the answer is not very motivating. Generating extensive oral practice of a single question and answer is difficult.
Equally, to write the same question four or five times is plain tedious. Yet again, the truth is that unless you write it a number of times, you probably won’t remember it. So how can you stimulate repeated writing practice without it becoming boring?
DigiPals is the global, online community in Little Bridge. It’s both fully-moderated and age appropriate, so you can be sure your students can enjoy communicating safely with their peers – in English. There are young learners of English from over 150 countries around the world in the DigiPals community. Your students can say hello to as many as they like and ask simple questions such as ‘What’s your name?’ and ‘How old are you?’
To type the same question a number of times is not boring when you’re asking different, real people. And students will get plenty of reading practice on the same theme when some of those people send a reply.
So where does the speaking come in? Easy! In the next lesson, you canyou’re your students to report back on the new friends they have made – to tell the class their name, where they come from, and how old they are. The information they share will be varied, worldwide – and authentic.
Of course, this is just an example. You can use the world of DigiPals to bring all sorts of topics to life: family, school, sports, hobbies, animals, clothes, music…anything! Having learned and practised new language with the activities in Little Bridge, students can use it to genuinely communicate and collaborate with each other, across international borders. And then, in class, they can share and exchange what they have discovered – all in English!
All messages posted on DigiPals – apart from those generated using the Sentence Maker – are moderated by a team of people in real time to ensure that they are in English, contain nothing offensive and neither give nor ask for any personal contact details. So teachers and parents need have no concerns about internet safety.
Ask your class to click on the globe at the bottom right of the screen. This displays one person per country (chosen at random) who has recently posted on the community. Click on a person to go to their page, then click on their red post box to bring up their recent posts. If you want, you can then click on one of the other people in that person’s post box and communicate directly with them.
The DigiPals community is also available on mobile devices from the App Store and on GooglePlay so students can practise English any time, anywhere.