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Talking Heads


City of Rotterdam and Albeda Startcollege


The Talking Heads Skype dialogue between youngsters and elderly is a means to enhance social cohesion and integration. Through this programme, elderly learn how to communicate online, which will extend their horizon. Additionally, it is a means for them to use their knowledge and experience and remain active. In turn, the youngsters improve their language- and digital skills, gain awareness of their own norms and values, expand their network and get the opportunity to continue studying and thereby improve their chances on the job market.


Kletskoppen, Talking Heads
This pilot is inspired by a project carried out in the US and Brasil. Through Skype, youngsters from Brasil looking to improve their English language skills contact elderly in a nursing home in the US. This format was developed in Rotterdam in cooperation with the ‘For Each Other’ programme, which seeks reduce loneliness amongst the elderly and utilize their living- and working experience through sharing it with others. The curriculum and execution were developed in cooperation with the Albeda Startcollege and care organisation Humanitas Bergweg. Now, the concept is freely accessible to organisations and schools.

The skype-pilot pursued various goals:

  • Increase the language skills of youngsters at risk involved in a training to prepare them for MBO (vocational training)

  • Enlarge their network

  • Gain knowledge of living and working in Rotterdam

  • Increase awareness of personal norms and values

  • Improve digital skills

For the elderly involved in the project:

  • Sharing knowledge and experience

  • Enhance their network

  • Get familiar with digitalization


Talking Heads is a 10-week programme, involving a 1-hour conversation each week. Halfway throughout the programme, the youngsters visit the elderly in their nursing home so that they can meet in person.
The following themes are for conversation: work, hobby, clothing, food, the city, school, youth, health, music is my passion and the photobook.


Facilitating through iPads, Wi-Fi, headphones and microphones, technical support is necessary as a basis.


A safe environment where both the elderly and youngsters can overcome their hesitation to talk to each other.


For both groups of permanent guidance to solve both technical and communication problems.


Weekly contact between the teacher and the supervisor of the seniors during the 10-week program

  • Both target groups get very involved through personal contact;

  • The youngsters learn from the experiences of the seniors and show respect;

  • The youngsters learn a lot about life in a big city and local customs;

  • Almost all young people want to do a short internship in the nursing home;

  • The teacher experiences a lot of satisfaction because as the weeks progress, the young people find it more and more fun to have contact with the elderly city dwellers in this interactive way;

  • Seniors experienced the introduction to Skype as added value for their private life. They can now skype with (small) children abroad;

  • There is mutual respect for each other's situation.

These points (and more) were delivered by an evaluation after every 10-week programme.


Talking Heads now is part of the curriculum and youngsters will receive a certificate of participation upon completion.

The concept is freely accessible to organisations and schools.

  • Factsheet

  • Class materials

  • Script/scenario

  • Photo book

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