Teach English in Xinquan Zhen - Yueyang Shi

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Summative Task Topic: 128. How English teaching should be adjusted to online learning ## Introduction Advances in computer technology and education research are revolutionizing how we teach in the classroom. These same advances are also making education accessible to students who aren't able to attend class. How can technology, and rethinking the role of the teacher, provide an effective online learning experience? ## Language Teaching in the Classroom Education research continues to innovate and improve on the traditional unidirectional lecture approach to teaching in the classroom [1]. The research shows that students benefit from a variety of methods (listening, watching, doing) as well as sources (teacher, classmates, themselves). One innovation is the "flipped" classroom, where students are introduced to new material before class, typically via videos. This allows students to learn at their own pace, and it saves precious classroom time for the teacher to check comprehension, answer questions, and facilitate exercises. Technology not only makes flipped classrooms possible; it also adds further variety to the classroom in order to keep students interested and engaged. ## Online Language Teaching The techniques depicted in the ITTT course already encourage active learning in the classroom, for example via increasing student talk time, having students work in groups, and call-and-response exercises. Therefore, such language classes can't be accused of resembling a traditional unidirectional lecture environment. But what happens when the classroom doesn't exist, and teaching takes place online? Technology offers new ways to learn remotely for people who aren't able to attend classes. It may not be the best solution for everyone, but for some people it is the only option. Demand for webchat-based online language learning is growing, as evidenced (for example) by the many job announcements for teaching Chinese children online. And companies like Rosetta Stone offer an app with exercises and audio for self-paced learning, and with an option to have a weekly session with a tutor. ## Two Approaches to Online Language Teaching The prior paragraph gives examples of two approaches to online teaching. With the first approach, it's possible to use classroom teaching techniques online, more or less, with a small group or individuals, by doing everything via webchat. In other words, it is possible to do essentially everything via webchat that the ITTT course applies to a classroom. This is more supervised and structured learning, and probably the best option for youngsters. The second approach is aimed at the self-learner: A student learns at his own pace, studies on his own, does exercises on his own using various tools at his disposal, and then meets the teacher for those activities where a teacher is best utilized (as described above with a flipped classroom). ## Teaching Self-Learners Online If we want to teach in the spirit of the flipped classroom and make the most effective use of a teacher's time, then we use existing language apps and websites where they exist, we encourage individual studying, and when possible, teachers are used for similar tasks as in the flipped classroom. This strategy can work for both individual and group instruction. What combination works best? The answer is: It depends. Especially for individual instruction, particularly for adults who probably have busy schedules, and who will be my target audience, I will look for the best combination of activities for each student: workbooks, websites like Duolingo, podcasts, writing, etc. My contribution will be to propose a combination of resources, with the hopes that the student can spend some time working with them (almost) every day, and during our time online I will concentrate on what teachers in a flipped classroom concentrate on: checking comprehension, answering questions, and facilitating exercises (i.e. conversation). ## Lingering Questions After completing the ITTT course I found myself asking the following questions: 1. To what degree can videochat replicate a teacher-student relationship that forms in the classroom? I think there is something subtle about sharing the same physical space that cannot be reproduced with webchat, but from my experience as an online IT mentor I have been able to build relationships with my students. 2. At what point does a teacher become "just" a tutor? There is a huge difference in teacher-student time between a classroom environment and, for example, a once- or twice-weekly online webchat. Is someone who "only" does the steps mentioned above (comprehension check, answer questions, facilitate) still a teacher, or has she become "merely" a tutor? ## References 1. https://www.washington.edu/teaching/topics/engaging-students-in-learning/