Teach English in Sunqiao Zhen - Jingmen Shi

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“By believing passionately in something that does not yet exist, we create it.” -Nikos Kazantzakis Computer-Aided Language Learning presents incredible possibilities to enrich the language learning experience and unleash the potential of students worldwide. With current technological advancements, such as online global language learning platforms and video conferencing, we are seeing and experiencing an evolution of teaching methods and curricula designed to engage learners across the world. It is now possible for teachers to lead classes and provide guidance from virtually any location with a stable internet connection, without the need to relocate or commute. Students also have the ability to attend classes from the comfort of their home, while in transit to other classes or activities, or anywhere else they might be while taking a 25 to 50-minute pause from their regular schedules. Online learning platforms allow younger students to supplement school courses or, in the case of some early language learners, to get a head start on learning English before beginning traditional schooling. In addition to providing flexibility to students and teachers alike, the virtual classroom allows for a variety of approaches when introducing and depicting vocabulary, concepts, and other material to learners. With the screen presenting a unique format for teaching and learning, the importance of T.P.R. (Total Physical Response) and intelligent incorporation of learning aides (including realia and images) is highlighted. These techniques and strategies help to bring lessons to life- the teacher becomes the guide, and sometimes the magician, on a learning adventure. Other tools that can be used within the online classroom include programs such as ManyCam, CamTwist, etc. which give the teacher the option to change their background and access an assortment of digital props to enhance and reinforce the coursework. Teacher training itself can take place within online learning platforms. Workshops, interviews, and additional training can also be conducted via video conferencing applications, such as Zoom. As we become more globalized, it seems natural that we would be further connected in the realm of language learning and education as a whole. Since the 1990s and the onset of Integrative CALL (Warschauer & Healey, Bax, and others) we have been working towards a more multi-dimensional, intuitive approach to language teaching and learning online. The internet itself is a wealth of resources and supplementary tools. It only makes sense that we would create new ways to integrate materials and build connections, not only between teacher and student but across the digital universe. As the internet becomes more accessible around the world, the demand for language learning platforms will likely continue to rise. Currently, there is quite a range of companies that offer English language classes for a variety of price points and group sizes. As demand and accessibility increase, one would imagine that online education will have the opportunity to reach remote areas and those who are currently underserved. Recent advancements in computer programming have also impacted English language learning and online education. It is possible for machine learning to monitor and gauge student interest during class es to assess student/teacher compatibility, in addition to evaluating initial student placement. It is not far-fetched to envision how continued progress and innovation could aide teachers and students alike, allowing teachers and schools to adapt not only to students’ abilities, learning styles, and levels but their individual preferences and overall happiness as well. It should be noted that parent-teacher feedback, teacher-student feedback, student-teacher feedback, and teacher feedback regarding the curriculum and coursework still provide valuable information and insight- something that online language learning platforms encourage, if not require. Further down the road, we could see an online classroom utilizing augmented reality, virtual reality, or mixed reality to create a completely immersive learning environment. Teachers might have the ability to control aspects of the lesson flow, including multitasking (such as displaying words/sentence frames while presenting material), with the help of brain-computer interfaces like MIT’s AlterEgo. Although these ideas might seem to be the stuff of dreams in the present moment, we are at a point in history unlike any other where the democratization of technology truly has the capacity to change our lives and the Universe for the better. Access to resources, education, and knowledge can unlock possibilities for everyone. References and Sources Applying machine learning in the online education classroom: https://digital.hbs.edu/platform-rctom/submission/vipkid-machine-learning-in-online-education/ MIT's BCI (AlterEgo): https://www.media.mit.edu/projects/alterego/overview/ Historical perspective of CALL (including the views of Warschauer & Healey, and Bax): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Computer-assisted_language_learning