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October 12, 2005 by Sue Weier

For several years, LSS has been helping language students “chat” their way to a more extensive and spontaneous vocabulary in their chosen language. Students regularly use chat and instant messaging (IM) for recreation, so it can be a struggle to repurpose this sort of communication method for instruction.

An alternative, WiscChat, is now available through the University. The WiscChat service uses a communication protocol called Jabber. Jabber is fully unicode-compliant, meaning that chats can be held in virtually any language. PC users use free software called WiscChat Messenger, while Macintosh users use a free software called Psi. You can also use any of a number of free, open source clients with your WiscChat account. Some of the other clients give more functionality – for example, logging chats to your hard drive.

Here at LSS we currently use a different communication protocol, IRC, for our chats. These chats aren’t unicode-compliant, meaning that certain characters can’t be entered. We’re hoping to use the campus Jabber server to offer chats in a variety of languages.

Interested? Let us know! Contact Sue Weier at

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