I recently came across a simple little chat platform, Todaysmeet that is easy to use for both teacher and student and can be used in multiple different ways in an ESL classroom. The teacher creates a chat room and gives the URL to students who then simply log in via any device.
For me the beauty of this is it’s simplicity. Don’t expect fancy graphics, bells and whistles, in this free version. There is an option available to subscribe which allows the user access for further features, however, these don’t seem to be particularly worth the subscription cost.
This is a handy tool to support learning that can be used either during or outside class time. On a basic level, learners can practice online conversation, turn taking and speaking in specific genres. It could also be used to answer learner queries, either as they occur or after the class, as another feature is that transcripts of conversations can be saved and printed off. As anyone with the URL can access the chat room, it also opens up possibilities for guest speakers, or interaction with other classes, who are not necessarily in the same physical space. The medium can also as Lam (2004) discusses, help learners “form linguistic and interactional patterns, genres and discourses” (Wam, 2004, p.48) and help form group identify within the classroom.
Another feature that I like that you are limited to 140 characters when chatting, so the learner has to think about what they will write and the words they choose.
Another possibility I can see is the teacher using this for office hours. The teacher could set up a room for learners to ask questions, provide feedback or share links. Synchronous or asynchronous comments, questions and conversations can take place and thanks to the transcript facility, all are recorded.
The only downside of this platform for me is the opposite of it’s upside, it’s very simplicity. Easy to use and access it is never the less, in today’s tech world of VR learning, and multi-modality apps, fairly basic and boring to look at and I’m not sure it performs much function beyond the basic. However, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, how many times are we distracted by the all singing all dancing piece of tech, that actually when deconstructed is a basic piece of kit, that just happens to look good? Therefore I would suggest that this little chat platform, could be something to use in the ESL classroom, either for teacher to learner or for learner to learner interaction.
For more ideas about how to use TodaysMeet have a look at Matt Miller’s Ditch that Textbook blog.
The link for TodaysMeet is
Lam, W. (2004). SECOND LANGUAGE SOCIALIZATION IN A BILINGUAL CHAT ROOM: GLOBAL AND LOCAL CONSIDERATIONS. Language Learning & Technology, 44-65.