Ever since Joe Mazza encouraged me to sign-up for Voxer, I had been ruminating about how it could be used by my Beginning English Language Learners. But Alma Avalos, the extraordinary bilingual aide who is my colleague, came up with an even better idea.

Readers might, or might not, be familiar with the WhatsApp instant messaging app bought by Facebook. Alma suggested that, since many students already have the app on the phone, why not have all of them download it and use it for homework English practice?

So, we easily set-up a Group Chat for the class. At the end of the school day, Alma texts and records a simple audio question (“What did you eat for lunch today?”). She models a response in text and in audio, as do I. Then students have until the beginning of our class at 10:00 AM the following morning to write and record their response. Everyone in the group chat can see and listen to everyone’s responses. Students can receive extra credit for either asking another question or responding to an extra question.

We’re just beginning, and it seems to be going well. I’d love to be able to figure out an easy way to be able to post students’ recordings on our class blog, but there doesn’t seem to be a way. You can email a chat to yourself, but you receive a list of texts (which is useful), and a separate audio file for each voice message. It’s just too time-intensive to deal with clicking on each individual audio message. I wish there was some way to be able to access it on the Web, but that process seems to be a bit convoluted and won’t work with an iPhone.

Does anyone know of another way that Whatsapp can be accessed on the Web in order to play recorded messages for the class? Even though everyone in the Group Chat can already hear them on the app, people would still enjoy hearing them played in class. Plus, I think hearing what the Beginners are doing might inspire enthusiasm for doing something similar among Intermediate students.

How are others using Whatsapp for language learning?

I’m adding this post to The Best Resources For Learning About Homework Issues.