Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The Speaking Exchange

Esther Barker, a resident of Chicago's Windsor Park Retirement Home,
speaks with her teen partner, a student in Brazil learning English.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Each week, we’ll feature intergenerational program ideas that were tried and successful. This series is a tool to highlight various age-optimized programs and practices. The program descriptions are provided by representatives of the programs. Inclusion in this series does not imply Generations United’s endorsement or recommendation, but rather encourages ideas to inspire other programs.

In part five of our series, we feature the Speaking Exchange, a project of the Brazilian school of English CNA and the agency CFB Brazil. (Read parts one, two, three and four.)

“Not all of our students have the chance to travel abroad and to interact with native speakers of English,” Vanessa Valença, a pedagogical coordinator at the CNA English School, said in a promotional video.

So the school, which operates 580 language centers in Brazil, created an educational project that would connect young people with America’s older adults over the Internet.

A Windsor Park Retirement Home resident and a Brazilian teen
exchange virtual hugs. 
The Speaking Exchange, currently in its trial period, conducts twice-weekly video chats between a small group of students and residents of Chicago’s Windsor Park Retirement Community.

The Speaking Exchange’s promotional video shows young and old sharing virtual hugs, an elder claiming her teen partner as her “new granddaughter,” and a young boy inviting his older partner to visit Brazil and stay at his parents’ house.

For both generations, it’s a win-win. It gives students learning English a way of meeting people with stories to tell, while allowing the elderly to feel active and make new friendships.

Got something cool you tried that was successful? Why not tweet them to #cooligideas, post them to our Facebook Group, Intergenerational Connections (if you're a Youth Jumpstart Grantee, share your ideas in that Facebook group) or text us through Facebook's Messenger app (friend me to join our Cool Intergenerational Ideas group discussion)? We want to highlight innovative age-optimized programs and practices through our blog, social media and weekly e-newsletter!

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