Monday, December 28, 2009

Google Voice as a Powerful "Get to Know You" and Speaking Fluency Tool

Another in the Innovative Educator's "Cells in Ed" lesson series. This lesson is designed for foreign language teachers who are interested in harnessing the power of cell phones in instruction. This can be used for educators who want to integrate cell phones into the curriculum either at school or away from school.

Foreign Language

Google Voice

Lesson Title:
Assessing Speaking Fluency and Getting to Know Classmates with Google Voice

Lesson Overview:
Students use Google Voice to record oral "About Me" reports.

Lesson Description:
Google Voice is a terrific tool to use with foreign language or ELL students and serves as a great way to assess oral fluency across the year. Teachers can use Google Voice at the beginning of the year to have their students share something about themselves in the form of a 60-second oral report. The teacher may choose to guide the report contents i.e.
My name is....
I moved here from...
My family is very proud of....
In my free time I enjoy...
Something I am very good at is....
In the future my goal is to...

The teacher should demonstrate how to do this in class by first recording their own oral report in front of the class. At this time the teacher may review what supports a student may use to create the oral report i.e. textbook, translation dictionary, Google translate. She can also show students how the more clear the speaker is, the better the transcript.

To implement the lesson, the teacher either 1) asks students to click on the icon set up on a website, wiki, or blog where s/he posts assignments and then the student will enter their number which will be called or 2) gives students their google voice number to call into where they can record their report.

Once the report is submitted, teachers receive a transcript of what the student submitted. There is also a space to write a note, comments, grade, etc on each student's recorded voicemessage. Additionally, the teacher has the option to associate each phone number/recording with a student's name or nickname.

These oral reports can be posted on an "About Our Class" page of a website, blog, or wiki." The "About Our Class" page will serve as an engaging forum for how students will publish their work which can be shared with additional friends and family members and even linked to the school website.

The teacher can repeat this assignment at the end of the year enabling students to listen to their oral fluency improvement from the beginning to end of the year.

Here's How to Get Started:

  • Sign up for a Google Voice account at Visit for for additional guidance.
  • Once you receive your Google Voice number go to
  • Next go "Settings," "Call Widget," "Add a New Widget."
  • You'll name your widget (i.e. - "About Me: Class 7-304")
  • Select "go to voicemail."
  • Get a code to embed it on your website, blog, or wiki.
  • Students will click on the widget and enter their name/number. (Note: Students can also call your number directly)
  • Your number will be called and the call will go directly to voicemail.
  • The student will leave their oral report which will show up in your Google Voice account.
  • You have the option to listen to the report, read the transcript, add a note, download, or embed.
  • If you want to embed on your website, blog, or wiki copy the embed code and paste it into your site following the directions on your site.
How lesson is enriched with tech:
Having students record their oral report enriches this lesson in several ways. First, this gives students a safe environment in which record themselves speaking, which can be particularly important to new language learners who are shy or uncomfortable speaking publicly. The tool gives students the opportunity to practice recording their report as often as they like. It provides a fun and engaging way for students to get to know each other in their own voice.

Special comments/considerations:

If a student doesn't have a cell, they can have Google Voice call the number of a friend or family member for recording. Remember you will want to use proper discression as it makes sense for your students if you will use real names or nicknames.

NETS Standards Addressed (see:
  • Creativity and Innovation - Students demonstrate creative thinking, construct knowledge, and develop innovative products and processes using technology.
  • Communication and Collaboration - Students use digital media and environments to communicate and work collaboratively, including at a distance, to support individual learning and contribute to the learning of others.

Contribute your lesson ideas.
If you have a lesson that you are using with your students, please share your ideas at

For more lessons visit:
Bring Poetry to Life with A Cell Phone and A Voki
Using Google SMS to Enrich Social Studies Instruction


  1. Interesting lesson. Google voice seems to open a lot of interesting possibilities for other lessons as well. It might be easier to use in this case. I am thinking there are less steps to set it up, but if you want to keep a record for comparison later in the year google voice might be better.

  2. @Jason K. I have a little experience with ( but I am not familiar with how it can work effectively with cell phones. I welcome and encourage you to submit a lesson that incorporates cell phones using at

    I will include it here on this blog and submit it for possible inclusion in a book I a collaborating on about enhancing ed with cells.

  3. while i might not consider using googlevoice for fluency, i do like the idea of using it as a get to know you and possibly to supplement my students' work around photography.

  4. Photomatt7, what a great idea! Using Google Voice to give voice to pictures! I love it! Apologies for the over-use of "!!!," but a really great idea indeed. Perhaps you want to submit a lesson around using this tool to supplement your students work? I'm sure it would be helpful to innovative educators everywhere. If so, you can just fill out the form at . Thanks for your comment, idea, and hopefully lesson.