Akiko Meguro combined the social networking site Mixi (http://mixi.jp) and the Mixxer (http://www.language-exchanges.org) to make communication with native speakers an integral part of her course. She uses the Mixxer to organize bi-weekly language exchanges via Skype for her students, then she has her students reconnect with their partners using the journal function in Mixi, the Japanese version of Facebook. This encourages the students to continue to meet with their partner outside of class and introduces them to an entire social network within the target culture as well. Many of our students continue to use Mixi after the course and once they’ve graduated. We had one language partner visit the class from Japan this year and we regularly hear of our students reconnecting with their language partners once they study abroad their junior year.
This video will give you an idea about the Skype portion. These are her slides about Mixi. Obviously Mixi is only for Japanese, but we can set up a similar interaction using the Mixxer and/or other localized social networks.
It’s a great way to introduce culture and prepare them for a study abroad experience. If you’re interested in doing something similar, please stop down and see me in Bosler.