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2. Suggestions

2.1 Organization and process
There are several solutions to the problem presented in the scenario, we would like to suggest two activities related to online meetings that could solve the scenario.

By making groups with students from the same school and then pairing them up with students from a different country they would collaborate using tools over the internet. The environments that might happen during these activities are going to be more detailed in other sections of this chapter. Here we will give suggestions on how to start and keep communication among international primary students and make considerations on the work development.

2.2 Suggestions

2.2.1 Dictionary

Our first solution is for the students to co-operate in the creation of a dictionary. For creating this online dictionary the students would have to make preparations in a solo phase, work in group in the classroom in a collaborative phase and also work in a virtual space for online meeting with international students in a cooperative phase. The final product would be a dictionary created by the group, based on their personal research and group discussions. We envision this activity in the following way:

It would require a pair of students from each country forming a group. This is also because when two students sit in the same location they can help each other if one student has difficulties. The group would at least consist of 4 students. In order to develop the project they would have to go through the following phases:

Phase 1: Solo research
They would have a topic per month, as for example flowers, clothing or animals. They would make a research of at least three items of the chosen topic. They would have to research by themselves to know how to say their names in English and also present facts about them, as for animals, what they eat, where they live, something about their habits. Or related to clothes they would have to say in what season it is worn, who generally wears them, how much they cost and so on.

In this phase the teacher would have to give clear and thoroughly instructions to the students about the task.

Phase 2: Peer work
After gathering information
himself, the student would meet with his local group member in the classroom and they would decide the 3 items for the dictionary.  For example, they would discuss together what animals would form their part of the dictionary and what information to give to the international students about those animals. They would have to prepare to present the work to the other international students in the group. It can be both written or oral all dependant on what the teacher wants the students to focus on. During this phase the teacher would help the students with their doubts in pronunciation, spelling and sentence formation.

Phase 3: Online work
When meeting online, each group would present their item showing a picture or drawing, teaching the others how to pronounce their names, explaining the facts of the animals and answering questions the others may have. Every group would do the same and at the end of the session they would produce one page of their dictionary and by the end of the year they would produce their own dictionary. During this phase the teacher would help the students using the technology and helping with doubts that would show up during the students’ conversations.

Difficulties and considerations:
In t
hisfirst suggestion there could be difficulties for example if the student fails do to his solo part. It is also demanding for the teacher in the group work stage. Due to the fact that he or she has to support different groups at the same time, with different needs. During the third phase it might be difficult if the students do not feel comfortable or do not know how to use the technological tool and therefore need more attention from the teacher that cannot give this kind of attention to everyone. After some rounds of participation, these difficulties can be overcome and the work should flow in a peaceful way.
As the presented scenario is related to primary school, it is necessary to take into consideration that students are young, between eight to ten years old. So, in order for them to be part of an online learning environment with international students it is important to consider some points:

First they need to get familiar to the technological tool to be used beforehand. They should try using it among their own classmates before actually using it in the international context.

Second they, should familiarize with their peer group members. The teachers should organize ice-break activities for the first meeting so that they can relax and learn how to communicate before performing the learning activity.

These first activities aim to assist the students to know each other and also improve their confidence and adaptation to this model of learning and to the technological tool.  
A third aspect to consider is that it would be good if every group had a leader. Each student would have the chance to be the leader. This kind of role-play would encourage students to participate more actively. It would strengthen their self-confidence and build up their capacity of collaboration.

Although it can be a complex project, the result would be worth it because at the end of it the students would have built their own knowledge with the teacher working only for scaffolding it. It is important to highlight the importance of the instructions the teacher will give the students for they will guide them and also give them the safety they need to perform the task

2.2.2 E-pal
This suggestion is based on the concept of pen-pals. The student would meet with another foreigner student, forming a pair. The students would meet online once or twice a month, depending on the intensity the teacher wants to give to the project. They would have two phases for that.

Phase 1: Gathering information
Students would be required to find information about a topic they want to have a conversation about in english. An example of
topic would be hobbies.
The teacher could
do the preparation in classroom or have the students prepare it by themselves as homework. In any case, before talking to foreign students, they would  have a small conversation with their teachers in their classroom where they would get help with pronunciation and content formation.

Phase 2: Meeting in pairs
In this phase the students would meet with in pairs using the online tool and present the topic followed by a discussion. They would have to try and speak
English as much as possible and call for their teacher if they encounter problems. They can have assistance from the material they have gathered beforehand. The teacher would in this phase work on assisting in the use of the technological tool and in helping with doubts that would come up during the conversation.

Difficulties and considerations:
This task can be simpler than the dictionary but it can also present some challenges. The main challenge is keeping a conversation going, if someone is shy or is not well prepared for the conversation this could
create a problem. As it is not a group, if a student does not talk, there is no conversation and the learning from this exercise would be voided. But then again it is important for the students to learn how not be shy and this exercise will help students overcome that hurdle.

There is a significant need of guiding the conversation if there is no progress or the conversation stops. This would require a heavy involvement from the teacher, in order to make sure that all e-pals get the desired learning outcome from each session.

There can also be a challenge for the teacher related to technology. The advantage is that it forces all the students to engage in the conversation simply because there are not many people on the group.


Discuss & brainstorm