Skype Part 1 Recording Audio

This is the first in what is going to be a series of postings looking at Skype and the range of plugins freely available for it and how these can be used for teaching languages and creating ELT materials.

As most people know, Skype is a freely available VOIP program which allows users to make computer to computer 'telephone calls' for free. What many people don't know is that there is also a huge range of 'plugins' available for Skype which expand and enhance its functionality and turn it into an even more useful tool for teaching and learning.

This first video shows how you find and install these extra plugins and focuses on one in particular (Pamela) which helps you to record your Skype calls.

Click the play button and turn up your sound

I hope you can see how easy it is to start installing and expanding the functionality of Skype.

Having this ability to record calls really helps as us language teachers and as materials creators to get a lot more out of this free program.

Watch the movie tutorial to see how to start recording your calls.

Click the play button and turn up your sound

So how do we use this with our students
  • This is great if you are doing any business training or training students involved in Call centres or customer services where the phone is a major means of interaction with customers. You can set up telephone role plays record them and give your students feedback on their performance.
  • You can record example / model phone calls for them and get them to listen and analyse how well the callers performed.
  • With general ELT / EFL students you can also set up a range of telephone role plays and record them (These could be job interviews, ringing about renting a flat, booking a hire car etc.) There are a whole range of real world tasks for which we need to use the phone for and giving your students the ability to try these scenarios out and then listen back and evaluate their own performance can be very empowering.
  • You could record some dialogues or interviews with friends or fellow teachers for students to listen to.
  • Students could interview each other and record and create their own tasks for each other.
  • You could ask students to use Skype for collaborative work (group conferencing is possible) and record their meetings for you to give them feedback on.

What I like about it
  • Pamela is free, easy to use and records audio to Mp3 format which can easily be edited or imported and used in other multimedia projects.
  • The Mp3s can also be used on i-pods or other mobile devices
  • The plugin is easy to configure and quick to download
  • Using voice only for communication with no visual cues from facial expression or body movement is very challenging for language learners, so this is a great way to practice and perfect this.

What to be careful about
  • You can only record up to 15 mins on the free version, but that should be enough for most purposes.
  • Never record people without their knowledge, it's actually illegal in some countries
  • Both Skype and Pamela need to be downloaded and installed, so if you are working with computers in your school, then you might need to persuade a few people before they allow you to do this.
  • Make sure that if students are using their own Skype user names and accounts that they are careful about who they share these with, as Skype does attract some nuisance callers.

I hope you find this a useful addition to your teaching toolkit. I'd be interested to hear from anyone who is already using these tools, and especially if anyone is using other Skype plugins to record or extent their Skype functionality.