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Hitting the Green Button January 22, 2007

Posted by Edwin in Mandarin, Skype, Speaking.

I have been kind of late jumping onto the Skype wagon. A lot of language learners have already been using it. For me, it was always the first call that seemed so difficult to make.

I installed Skype a couple of months ago when version 2.5 first came out. I thought to myself, “One day I will find someone to call”. Time flied and the application just sat there on my desktop. A while later, Skype 3.0 came out.

One day, I decided to upgrade it. I looked at my call log and saw that during the whole period, I made only one call – the test call to my home. After the upgrade, I registered myself at Mixxer, the language exchange database. I said to myself, “For sure, I am going to get onto some serious business this time”.

Another while passed, my log still showed one call – the test call. Somehow, I just felt uncomfortable making the first call – hitting the green button thing. I did not know anybody to call!

Last week, an article from David’s blog enlightened me. I don’t necessarily need to find someone to call first. I could just wait for others to call me.

The past Tuesday night, I decided to give it a try. I polished my Mixxer profile and went online on Skype. Only after about 10 minutes, someone pinged me! We text-chatted for a while. Then we decided to have a conversation.

This learner was from Zhijiang, China, and he has been seriously learning English. We conversed for about 20 minutes, switching between Mandarin and English. We decided to do more language exchange in the future.

Over the weekend, I tried making more calls. I also received calls from other language learners. This Skype thing has been really addicting once I got started! I talked to people in China, the UK, the US, Bulgaria, Venezuela, Australia, etc.

I joined my first Skypecast on Sunday morning, and I found myself already hosting another Skypecast in the evening! It was David’s Skypecast, but he was having some technical problems. So I volunteered to host for him. There were about 30 people participating and the Skypecast lasted for almost 3 hours! I will have more to say about this Skypecast. I think it worths another post.

For those who have not Skyped before, I sincerely encourage you to try it out. From my experience so far, people have been very nice and encouraging. Here are your first few steps:

  1. Install Skype
  2. Join a language exchange site such as Mixxer or Kantalk
  3. Start your own language exchange advantage

Sadly, somehow I realize that I need to cut down on Skyping. My wife has been having a bit of complaint already.



1. Scott - January 22, 2007

It’s amazing that someone contacted you after only 10 minutes! I suppose that a lot depends on what languages you speak and which ones you want to study.

It sounds like you are already off and running, but for anyone just getting started, I find that it’s less intimidating to start with text messaging, then make a voice call if both people are free. In my case, starting with text messaging also allows me to practice typing and reading Thai.

It also helps me to have a few questions prepared in advance in case there’s a lull in the conversation. I’ll ask about ordinary things, like brothers and sisters, favorite sports, favorite movies and music, and so on.

2. edwinlaw - January 22, 2007

Scott, actually this is what I have been doing. I would have a text chat first, then see if both parties are ok to talk.

One thing I find annoying with the Skype interface is that double-clicking the user would atomically call him. I am used to double-clicking the users in my other IM applications. So I have been accidentally calling a few people already.

Then, I just found an option in Skype to change it.

3. Danling - January 22, 2007

Edwin, From no Skype calling experience to actually hosting a Skypecast, that is really impressive. I’ll try to host one myself one of these days and let you know what I think.

I hate double-clicking/callling too.

4. edwinlaw - January 22, 2007

I think you should. In fact, I will be very happy if I can find an intermediate Mandarin practice class from Kantalk. Are you interested in hosting one?

5. Danling - January 23, 2007

Sure. I think I can. Let me set one up for a weekday evening or sometime in weekend. I am in EST timezone. What time is good for you?

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