Do -you- use Skype in the language classroom? If so, the Christian Science Monitor wants to know.

I have been contacted by the Christian Science Monitor about a story they want to do on using Skype in the language classroom. They need to know that this is not a passing fad and that many US colleges/universities/highschools are using this tool for meaningful classroom exchanges.

Of particular interest to the CSM is the idea of people in the US using Skype to connect from remote parts of the country, where, perhaps, language instruction in a less commonly taught language might not be possible or affordable.

Do you have a story to tell the CSM about using Skype in the L2 classroom? If so, leave a comment and tell it here!

Barbara is a Lecturer in Hispanic Studies at a small liberal arts college in Maine. Rumor has it this was also her alma mater. She used to work for a small liberal arts college in the cornfields of Ohio for almost 20 years as a teacher and language center director. Prior to these adventures in higher ed she taught high school Spanish and loved it. She wishes she had more time in her life to play with her dogs, write, read, swim, do yoga things and making stuff out of clay. To see her online portfolio please click here!


  1. Doug Canfield · July 17, 2007 Reply

    There were some good Skype sessions @ IALLT 2007, including


  2. judi · July 17, 2007 Reply

    Does it have to be Skype in particular? We have used several video/audio/text chat applications for our Japanese Video Conference. Students first use the Polycom for group-group interaction, then move into our iMac lab for one-on-one video chats.

    Unfortunately, using Skype on the Mac platform on our side and on the PC platform in Japan resulted in many computer crashes on their end. We have settled on MSN Messenger running in Windows in both locations (via Bootcamp on our side).

  3. Barbara · July 17, 2007 Reply

    Judi: he wants to know about how language teachers are using Skype, and only Skype. ‘Tis a shame about those crashes, tho. We have not had problems in that regard, especially if students have their own accounts vs shared accounts.

  4. Mark Knowles · July 17, 2007 Reply

    I was asked to present Skype to a workshop sponsored by the French Resource Center at Yale a little over a year ago as a way of sustaining relationships created in high school exchange programs. I have recently met with director Sharon Straka and assistant director Anne-Celine Cardot and they informed me that many of the teachers who attended the presentation are, indeed, making use of Skype and that commuication within the State of Connecticut/Toulouse regional exchange programs have improved as a result. As Doug Canfield pointed out in his IALLT presentation on Skype, it may not be forever that Skype will be a suggested VOIP tool because of a French governmental displeasure with it, but if teachers and students are making calls from their home computers, even in the Hexagon we might see its use proliferate.

  5. felix · July 17, 2007 Reply

    I have used Skype quite a bit, as have other faculty at our college. While there are alternatives (iChat, Gizmo, etc.), Skype is the most standardized, has the best sound quality (video is better on iChat, though), is cross-platform, has a lot of extra addons, and offers skypecasts. I think the ability to speak to native speakers thousands of miles away for free makes this an essential teaching and learning tool for languages. Haven’t had any technical problems here yet, though video can be slow if one side has a less than optimal connection. Definitely in the top 10 of current language learning (and teaching) technologies for me.

  6. Barbara Lindsey · July 17, 2007 Reply

    Hi Barbara,

    We’ve been using Skype for several years now in our Critical Languages Program (Professor Manuela Wagner is the Director) to connect our students with our outside examiners during midterms and finals. If we had more money in our budget (to pay the OEs for their time), they would be using Skype more often to connect with the OEs.

  7. Todd · July 17, 2007 Reply

    We’ll hopefully have between 15 and 20 classes (this academic year) doing Skype exchanges as a regular part of their course. Language exchanges have been around a long time, and they’ll only get easier. The technology will certainly change at some point, but Skype’s future is looking pretty good for the foreseeable future.

  8. Chris Craft · July 17, 2007 Reply

    I have used Skype with 6th grade students in an exploratory Spanish class to connect with a classroom in Peru via live video, all over Skype. It was based around a project my kids did investigating the Peruvian culture and trying to get a feel for life in South America. We then connected via Skype to ask how we did! My kids got a lot out of the exchange.

    I am in Lima, Peru right now developing contacts with schools in the area in preparation for next year and future Skype conferences, both using the video feed and without. I intend to *try* to reach into the more remote parts of the peruvian jungle but bandwidth there can be a problem. I’d be happy to tell you more, find me at and use the contact me form.


    Chris Craft

  9. Laura · July 19, 2007 Reply

    I have been using skype this past year and plan to use it this Fall to make my online French courses more interactive. I think one of the drawbacks of many language courses is the lack of real-world, meaningful communication. Skype can enable this. The conference call feature can be used for study groups and collaborative projects.

    Skype can also be handy for online tutoring.

  10. Doug Worsham · July 20, 2007 Reply

    Skype is a very useful tool for language instructors that want to bring in authentic voices from the target culture.

    This post to the L&S LSS blog shows how Patricia Rengel, a Spanish instructor at UW-Madison uses Skype to record conversations with writers, artists, activists, and politicians from throughout the Spanish speaking world. Here’s an excerpt:

    Commenting on the role this technology has played in her class, Rengel notes that “borders can be perceived as barriers. However, Voice over IP technology has allowed us to dissolve borders and barriers by bringing over eight different Spanish language accents into our classrooms. We’ve gone “global” with live interviews of native-speakers from the Caribbean, Mexico, Chile, Argentina, Costa Rica, Spain, and Nicaragua. Ten to twenty minute audio clips immerse the students in the authentic language of outstanding writers, activists, musicians throughout the Spanish-speaking world. It’s been an incredible experience for both the instructors and students!”

    To read the entire post, see

  11. Colleen Coffey &Janet Banhidi · August 6, 2007 Reply

    We began using Skype at Marquette University as a central part to our curriculum for an intensive intermediate course thanks to Todd Bryant and the MIXXER. This Fall 6 classes will spend an hour in the lab meeting as a global language learning community. We have partnered with another University in Cali, Colombia and develop curriculum specifically for these virtual language exchanges with their English instructors. I have observed only positive impact on the new landscape of the language classroom and the language and cultural competency of the language learners.

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