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Teach English in Chidong Zhen - Huanggang Shi
Many teachers and learners from different parts of the world have benefited a lot from online learning. It is true that it has created a new paradigm of teaching due to its popularity and convenience. However, as a language teacher who has experienced teaching both online classes and conventional classes, I can say that online learning is not all that easy. Teaching ESL or EFL online has been a trend and is becoming even more and more popular among learners from different parts of the world. This is not a great surprise since it offers quite a number of advantages. First, online learning has broken the boundaries of conventional classrooms. Teachers can now reach and teach learners from different parts of the world from the comfort of their homes or offices. It has also allowed teachers to hone their technical skills and integrate technology into their pedagogy. And students, on the receiving end of this learning process, are catered to no matter how busy their schedule is and no matter where they are from. Many language institutions offer good online courses to learners with their maximum flexibility as the main priority. Despite such convenience that online learning offers, it also holds a few drawbacks and challenges. There are a number of factors that may negatively affect the convenience of online learning. The impersonality of it is possibly the biggest flaw of distance learning. Although there is a significant number of studies which claim that distance learning is not altogether impersonal, it is still safe to say that onsite learning is – by a long shot – more personal than online learning. To my mind, there are several issues like lack of interactivity and course alignment that are rooted in the impersonal nature of distance learning. In some language institutions for example, learners may have multiple trainers working with them throughout their course in order to have maximum flexibility. Trainers, with the help of their LMS (Learning Management Software), try their best to uphold continuity and align their lessons. But I argue that unlike conventional classes, aligning courses is not always attained with this kind of teaching methodology. Additionally, since there are language institutions that do not require the use of a webcam during lessons, online classes may not be as interactive and personal as conventional classes. Due to the absence of webcams during online lessons, some important aspects of classroom management like gestures and eye contact become immaterial. By and large, there is no question that online learning is more convenient than onsite learning. If a learner wishes to maximize flexibility and have lessons wherever and whenever, an online learning program is definitely and obviously the better option. On the other hand, there are several issues that teachers and learners alike have to face with this type of learning process. The lack of face-to-face interaction in an online learning environment may compromise things that are important to both students and teachers. Since it is believed that distance learning is less interactive and less personal than conventional classes, greater efforts are required among teachers and participants of online learning programs. Furthermore, teachers of online courses need to think of extraordinarily creative ways to promote interest, collaboration, and interactivity during lessons. It is also imperative to foster responsibility among their learners.