File transfer, web browser but no whiteboard Yahoo! Messenger Multiple voice participants in conference mode, PC only Allows display of multiple web cams, PC only No whiteboard but file transfer when receiver and sender are both logged into this site Groove Groove is another messenger which includes a whiteboard, conferencing, and file exchange, as well as voice capacity. The voice quality is fair, but the change from one speaker to another is marked by a loud chime or beep, rather bothersome for people wearing headphones.
Groove is deed particularly for businesses security and conferencing collaboration are two features they stress. Their online publicity states that this company has "10 years experience with video on the net" with "users in over countries. After navigating through this user-friendly site, one wonders why all online companies cannot accommodate both PC and Macintosh and be this simple to use.
Talking Communities Talking Communities makes use of the Chatterbox program.
Students can an existing voice chat "room" for free. However, technical support is more easily available vvoice in many of the other chat programs. There are three interfaces available: Voice only; text and voice; or text, chat, and integrated browser whiteboard.
PalTalk has open chat rooms that the user can. The voice quality is generally good. You may also create your own room and lock it if you like. Users can send offline messages to other participants.
There are teachers who use PalTalk for freelancing, but there is no class schedule as PalTalk is only a messenger service. Students can find free ESL lessons by going to "groups" and then "distance learning. Video is also available, but it is not free. LiVVe has a whiteboard, and it is possible to show websites. However, it is complicated to install, and students might be tempted to download it in their native language many languages are availablethus defeating the purpose of online English practice.
Messenger Perhaps the best voice quality with the simplest directions good for ESL students is Yahoo! The free features available with this program include conferences, file exchange, private and public voice chats, PC to cell phone connections, off-line messages sent, access to news, weather, and travel locations, among others.
There is no whiteboard, and the may be irritating to some people. Unfortunately, Yahoo Messenger is presently only available to PC users. The voice quality is poor and cuts out, the technical support is non-existent, and the ebst programs are affected by slow computers. These were some of the first programs, but they have not been updated or technically supported as well as the others.
For these reasons, Chxt cannot recommend these programs and have not listed them in the chart above. These are mainly programs that students could be made aware of and use on their own time, since teachers are unable to exercise control over them. In these programs, there is usually a class schedule, including free demonstration classes, and there is a teacher present to focus the discussion.
The students can "drop in" when they have free time and participate. However, these demonstration classes are deed to pull students into paying classes, so students should be made aware of this fact. Most of these sites are not as flexible as the online voice program sites.
There is sometimes a whiteboard and file sharing, but the usual setup is simply a chat room with sometimes as many as 50 students present! There are not many opportunities for students to speak, and the chats are often quite structured. Students might benefit more from listening practice than speaking practice.
Having taught online in this type of situation, I can report that there are students who get quite attached to online teachers and show up each week in the same free chat rooms without enrolling for longer courses. They appreciate the chance to have a more relaxed discussion without a formal lesson. While teachers are paid half the salary they were paid even a few years ago, the quality of discussion leadership as well as the policing by the teachers of the problem students who occasionally want to be rude or too talkative, is quite good.
Some of the teachers are at home with small children, some are sitting in conversation schools such as Cambridge Schools vpice ECC in Japan. There are many under-employed, but qualified teachers who fill these jobs. There are an endless of English schools online.
However, the narrows to only a few who offer audio technology, and there are an even smaller of free sites. Global English and Englishtown were two chag the first, but they now share the field with others. Englishtown offers group and private lessons 24 hours a day, but there are presently no free voice lessons except a 7-day free trial.
At present, Peak English has only free text chat lessons, but they plan to add free voice chat demonstration classes sometime during the summer of Global Chat offers free "lessons. The students pay the teacher a set fee every month and the company keeps a percentage of this fee. The teachers recruit their own students. vouce
Most schools have a fee range. While this arrangement is easier and cheaper for the conversation schools, the quality of education may not be as high. Conclusion Like everything else, using these free voice chat programs gets easier the more you do it. It takes some time to learn the basics, but the rewards will cnat worth the trouble. You may find that this is the most popular and most often-used part of your course.
Suggested further reading Cotton, E. The online Classroom: Teaching with the Internet.
This book is a good start for K teaching and includes a complete section on computer safety. Sperling, D. New York: Prentice Hall Regents. The sections on KeyPals in this book could easily be modified to become "TalkPals" using one of the voice programs. Dave Sperling's Internet Guide.
This book is now the classic introduction for teachers. 40 discusses how to set up global voice conversations using computers.