VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) permits internet telephony on computers or mobile devices. Nowadays there is a grey area between traditional VoIP services like Skype (see the image at the bottom of this page) and chat & messaging services, with many companies providing both audio/video call and messaging options. VoIP, much like chat and messaging, is linked with web 2.0 in that it involves user interactions and exchanges, and with mobile learning in that it often occurs on mobile devices, with traditional VoIP services like Skype being regularly used in an app format on smartphones or tablets.
VoIP is an ideal tool for conducting live interviews, or pair and small group discussions. These can be recorded and reviewed or transcribed later, and well-designed oral tasks can also form the basis for assessments. There are obvious applications of VoIP for language learning in particular, which has led to a number of services building language learning functionality around Skype or similar VoIP technology.
One well-known alternative to Skype is Google Hangouts. For a list of VoIP services, see Wikipedia’s Comparison of VoIP Software. There is also videoconferencing software available, including Blackboard Collaborate, Microsoft Teams and Zoom, generally intended for larger group or class meetings; for more on videoconferencing, see the videos page of this website. For commonly used mobile services with similar functionality, see the chat & messaging page of this website.
For language students, there are services that help to organise voice chat, often through Skype, and often with accompanying text channels; examples include The Mixxer and My Language Exchange. The HelloTalk and Tandem apps are designed specifically for language practice. As an alternative, it is worth remembering that audio messages can also be exchanged on many chat & messaging apps. In the future, it is likely that more language apps will invite students to talk to chatbots; one app that already includes natural speech recognition for English learning is SpeakingPal.
For science students, the Skype a Scientist service holds some promise.
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