Kajsa Larson is a Cengage faculty partner and associate professor of Spanish at Northern Kentucky University
No matter how you’re delivering your World Language class, it’s essential that students have low-stakes opportunities for conversation to sharpen their listening and speaking skills. But for a fully online, asynchronous course, this can be a challenge.
So, some instructors are turning to Conversifi, a platform compatible with Cengage online learning platforms. Conversifi offers short, live conversation sessions, available for Spanish and French learners, that allow for an authentic peer-to-peer experience similar to what students might practice in everyday conversation.
In this article, we’ll dive into how you can use Conversifi in your World Language course.
For beginner classes, Conversifi offers students 10-minute sessions with specially trained coaches. The coach, or native speaker, has a sample outline of possible questions to ask. Students gain confidence trying out their language skills and get to learn more about another country and culture with each conversation.
Picking a topic
With 180 topics covered, Conversifi has a fit for almost any course. For beginning classes that use Exploraciones, for example, Conversifi has created a recommended “learning path” that consists of two topics per chapter that best relate to the textbook content, starting in chapter three. Instructors can assign other conversation topics on top of that as well. For more advanced classes, students can explore the “Tú haces las preguntas” or the “freestyle module,” which allows for open topics.
All students and coaches receive instant written feedback, which the instructor can view. Students can also allow instructors to view their session recordings. It isn’t uncommon to see a lot of smiling faces, laughter and positive comments about common interests between students and their coaches.
With these on-demand sessions, students only have a two-and-a-half-minute average wait to connect with a partner during the supported hours. Plus, students also have the option to schedule a conversation session outside of those supported hours. For Spanish, each topic is labeled with a Spanish session code that both the coach and the learner use to familiarize themselves with the assigned topic. The learners also receive a preparation sheet so they can write new vocabulary words, questions and sentences to share during the conversation and turn in to the instructor as a graded assignment.
Students can also coach sessions in their native language (French, Spanish or English only). By coaching, students can see first-hand that they’re not alone in their language journey, and learn how to get the most out of their sessions.
As an extra-credit assignment, I ask students to pick their favorite conversation session and identify what they did well and what they thought of the experience. Students often describe an initial high level of anxiety about talking to a stranger in a live, virtual setting but almost always end the semester feeling happy, proud and empowered by the experience, learning how we are all more similar than we are different.
To learn more about how to use Conversifi with your Cengage online learning platform, connect with your Cengage representative.