I used to do an activity called 'Walk Around'. Students create their own questions related to the topic and then they will find different people to interview and record their answers. It is an activity to promote oral language skills and increase face-to-face spontaneous communication. However, this is relatively time-consuming, especially for students at beginning proficiency level.
With the added extension to Google doc, now I can have my students to generate their questions and respond to each other's questions. Students need to be guided to create more open-ended questions to allow others to apply their language skills and provide details or examples to their ideas and opinions. It's important to remind students to use each other as resources. If they don't know how to answer, they can listen their classmate's recording for ideas. Since questions are open-ended, the responses are different. To add the spontaneous component in this activity, I usually play a couple of recordings at the beginning of the lesson and ask follow-up questions in class to ensure that students interact in unfamiliar and non-rehearsed situations. Another benefit of doing this is that we discuss what providing limited and ample information means through their recordings. Some students might give limited responses and other might give examples and details to justify their opinions.
This can be used as a formative assessment and allow teachers to document students' learning progress. Since the document is shared with students, they are aware of their improvement. In my opinion, everyone enjoy doing good work. Students must be able to see the progression of their own learning so that they can be motivated to move to the next level and acquire the target language gradually.
I use this strategy with both MYP and DP students, but I can really see this benefits my Mandarin ab initio students greatly when preparing for their interactive oral task. Time is always limited in the DP progrmmme. By creating this digital learning environment, we increase students' oral language exposure and ensure their language learning experience is more sustainable. It's not uncommon we heard that a student may have been learning a target language for many years, but he or she still find it difficult when being engaged in an interactive and spontaneous conversation. Through this strategy and process, I believe speaking will become more natural and help students to acquire the target language gradually. We hope students are able to communicate orally with confidence in the real world after they finish the exam and graduate from our language classes.
You can find out more how to add Vocie Comment on your Google doc here: http://goo.gl/ZHuJCF