Introducing Cypris Chat!!!

Well, on her traveling and adventuring Pio got to Cypris Chat Island, a Virtual World English Learning Community in Second Life and what she found there was a wonderful community of educators and students. Visiting their website, Pio read their credo:


and also found a really smart idea of what learning English should be about: 
"Learning English should be a way of life instead of a struggle to achieve."
- Professor Merryman, Founder

Today she received an invitation on the chat group to join a class on grammar and also to participate in a Christmas group photo. Of course, she loved the idea, since she's been there before observing classes. After the class and before going to the photo place, she found a note card that explains what this community is about... Professor Merryman wrote it. But let's Pio introduce this wonderful educator first:

Also known as Mike McKay M.Ed Tech - is the founder of Cypris Chat, a not-for-profit English speaking practice community. He's an American living and teaching English in Japan as an adjunct professor. He's researching ways to help adult learners learn English.

Mike's Philosophy:
Teaching helps us discover new strengths and weaknesses.
Learning is something we do to keep us looking forward.
Home is a place where your mistakes are forgotten.
Reaching the peak late in life gives us enough time to enjoy the ride.
The first question, then would be.... What is Cypris?
The name Cypris comes from the island where this group first formed. It is actually a type of moth we find to be very beautiful. The symbolism also fits well with our community because a moth or butterfly represents the freedom to choose. Moths can listen while clinging to a wall or fly in to the middle of a conversation. Members of our group come and go as does the Cypris moth. We are not a school. Cypris is a co-op learning community supported solely by donations. group members who are studying are referred to as learners. Teachers are referred to as tutors. We believe language learning is best when experienced within the context of living. For this reason, a community which lives together for the purpose of helping one to learn or teach languages makes for a more engaging and memorable learning experience. 

Something that Pio agrees with 100%. She smiled after reading this part of the notecard and thought ... this is my kind of place.. from her experience visiting communies in SL or in the web... Setting times to get on line is somehing really diffiuclt to do.. Real Life is always demanding and even if we want to be a full time participant of these communities we find we can't. Open programs help students to come and go and give tutors freedom to select topics or activities that fit more the needs of the participants, so when they do come they just join a welcoming community that supports each other because they are used to have new comers all the time.

Who are the participants? Professor Merryman says:...
Our group is made up of people from all over the world but the bulk of our members come from Japan. That is because the founders of the group live in, or are, Japanese. The age range of our members seems to be between 30 and 50 and their level of English competence ranges from intermediate to almost fluent. With this in mind, it is best to tailor lessons for intermediate speakers and then make adjustments for each group meeting. 
......Pio found out that  it's open to students from all the world and newbies are welcome, too. She's there observing classes, that's how she learns best. So educators are welcome to volunteer and observe and maybe later on give it a try with their students. Pio is considering to offer herself as a tutor and bring URBE's students to practice.

Taken from:

What is a typical chat meet up? Now, this is really interesting and helpful. Next, professor Merryman provides a model of best practices...

We try to be consistent with every meeting so learners and tutors know what to expect from every lesson. Each lesson should include the following content within the given timeframe.

15 minutes - Welcome and warmup
Give a little time for late comers and technical difficulties while introducing new members and getting to know each other.

45 minutes - Present, practice, perform
In each lesson, the tutor should present the topic, vocabulary, phrases or related material to be learned. They should then have a section of the lesson dedicated to practicing those points. Finally,  learners should perform what they have learned. At this point there should be a wrap-up with a little feedback to the group and questions if there are any.

30 minutes - Activity
This activity does not have to relate to the lesson all though it would be best. The purpose of this time is to give learners a chance to interact with the group and practice chatting in English. Activities should be group centered and give everyone a chance to participate.

30 minutes - Travel Time
This time is used as if going on a field trip together. There are two reasons for doing this:
1. It's fun! Do you remember when you went on field trips in class. The teacher was responsible for organizing and telling the class where to go and when while learning something at the same time.
2. Our group shows its support to the community by bringing people to places that appreciate our visits.

During this portion of the meetup, all members need to be in group chat before leaving Cypris. We do this because group chat lets us keep in touch with everyone no matter where we are in SL. Also, we do this before leaving Cypris due to technical problems that can in other sims while joing group chat. Local chat and text chatting is discouraged.

Tips to make the experience better
Below is a list of tips and suggestions to help us all enjoy our community even more.

- Be on time. Start the chat and finish the chat on time. Consistency is most important. Some members only come to study, others for the activity and others for the travel time. If we are late or early at any of those times then we are doing a disservice to the community.
- Make lessons interesting, fun, active, and above all...nice. We are here to have fun and learn something at the same time. If you are having fun, then our members are having fun.
- Be patient. SL is a crazy place to teach in. So many different people means a lot of different learning obstacles. The group officers try to monitor who becomes a member of the group and whether there is anyone we feel does not fit in our community. But to do that we need to give everyone a chance to fit in.
- To manage large groups, try to introduce your learning objective and then seperate the group into smaller groups with one native speaker wishing to help. This gives a chance for native speakers who are interested in tutoring a chance to try teaching.
- Send out a notice card the day before your lesson and a group text chat notice 5 to 10 minutes before your lesson starts.
- During the Travel Time, copy the SLurl into group chat so everyone in the group can access it.
- Be sure to thank everyone for joining your lesson and encourage them to show their support by leaving a few lindens in the donation box (Wishing well for now) at the entrance to Cypris Village.

Those are wonderful tips that will certainly give us an idea of how classes can be conducted in virtual worlds.... The last tip is also really important... smiles.. everybody can contribute to keep places like this open to everyone. So if you go visiting, please... a little something would be appreciated.

The Photo shooting!!!

But now, let me tell you about the Christmas photo.. It was fun.. well, this a slide show of the adventure of taking the photo.. giggles... The most difficult part was to have all the participants standing in their pose balls. Participants were supposed to stand infront of the Christmas tree and around Santa's chair. was harder than poor Professor Merryman expected. Anyway it was great practice, since all the directions were given in English, using voice .. students had to follow directions and practice their prepositions of place. Some of the students helped their partners by providing support and laughing...

After the photo .. we had fun ice skating... They have a ice skating tour around the Sim.. and the music is wonderful.. Pio had a great time.. so if you want to come..let her know .. we can ice skate together.


  1. Fruitless way > An ounce of TEACHING is not equal to an ounce of LEARNING

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