It’s a simple idea: Kids learning English need hours of conversation with native English speakers; assisted living residents need new faces to chat with; and online chat technology can connect people who are miles – and generations – apart. So why not use videocam enabled computers to connect seniors in foreign high schools to seniors in American residences? Duh!
It took an ad agency working with a language school to see the beauty in the equation. Speaking Exchange – a project of the Brazilian school of English CNA and the agency CFB Brazil – pairs teen language students with residents of Chicago’s Windsor Park Retirement Community for twice-weekly face-to-face conversations.
Students log in to see who’s online in Chicago, and start the chat. Initially, the conversation is guided by a school staff member who might suggest topics, but pretty soon the elder-student pairs are able to talk freely.
The video below of Speaking Exchange clips was just published on May 7 and already has been widely shared on the Internet – a first for a language school commercial! Viewers have been touched by the virtual hugs, the christening of one teen by an elder as her “my new granddaughter”; one boy’s invitation to his older partner to visit Brazil and stay in his house; the sharing of family photos; even the carefully worded correction a senior offers a student – “Do you know, instead of saying ‘He has 23 years,’ you could say, ‘He is 23 years old.'” It’s not often that we get to witness the spark of cross-generational relationships in the making.
Watch: It will give you one more reason to love the Internet.
Speaking Exchange is currently in Beta – a testing period. CNA is inviting senior residences and communities to apply for the program. Click here for more information.
Wonderful! This would work well for some of my residents in Houston Texas.