Skype for Duolinguists
In several discussions I have mentioned the possibility of using Skype to practice a language by having a conversation among a few of us. People have thought it could be useful. I don’t know whether anyone has actually tried it. (If so, please report here!)
I have put together a few thoughts on how it might work and what we would need to consider. In no particular order:
Skype provides conference calls. Three or four chatting together would probably be better than one-to-one but it would become chaotic with many more than that.
It might help to have the conversation chaired by someone reasonably fluent in the language. They could set up the conference call and bring the others into it.
Would video be a distraction? Personally, I would prefer audio only, at least to start with. Anyway, audio conference calls are free (as long as all involved are on Skype). There is some cost associated with video conferences,
The conversation would have to be arranged in advance so that the participants were sitting at their computers ready for it to start. This implies agreeing a start time and therefore a time zone by reference to which it is fixed. That is not as straightforward as it seems. 6.00 p.m. EST is midnight my time!
People would need to communicate in order to get it set up. Would a Duolingo discussion or posts on each others’ streams work for this? I don’t think members would want to reveal their personal details such as email addresses where a “troll” could read them. It would be contrary to Duolingo guidelines anyway. An answer might be for the chairman to create a dedicated email account for the purpose – easy enough on (e.g.) Google. Say BillofKempsey@gmail.com. (It doesn’t exist as far as I know!)
Those intending to take part would provide their Skype usernames in emails to that account. Also their location (at least time zone). Any other information? Users should be aware that they would be trusting that individual not to misuse the information or share it further.
If we can get some ground rules established, we can look for volunteers willing to try chairing a chat.