As we enter the new normal, an ever-increasing number of people are moving online for language learning programs. Among these are a great many traditional educators and students who were originally forced online during the global Covid-19 pandemic.
1 The Role of the Teacher in Language Training
The role of the teacher in language training is to provide the student with the means by which they can master that language. It does not matter if they are learning a language that is native to their homeland or learning a second language.
There was a day when students both young and old would be encouraged to read comic books or other less literary material in order to improve their language skills. In the world today, this effort has been reduced due to the increasing use of digital technology and the rapid decrease in the use of traditional materials like books.
While the role of virtually every teacher in the world has changed with the recent global pandemic, the focus here is primarily on the role of the language arts teachers and how they can use modern practices to help their students engage in the online learning that is becoming increasingly common in the new normal.
2 Immersive Online Language Learning for Students and Teachers
It is estimated by the Brookings Institute that roughly one and one-half billion students or 87% of the students across the world have been effectively locked out of their classrooms. This has created major challenges for both teachers and students alike as they struggle to adjust to the online learning environments and making a living during economically challenging times.
Fortunately, there are a great many venues available to both teachers and students when it comes to online learning and teaching. In this section, we will focus on areas where teachers can send their students to practice their language skills in more immersive online communities.
It should also be noted that many students seeking to learn a second language or foreign language may need some help determining which are the best languages to learn. The best languages to learn are generally those languages that the student will be able to use most often. In many locations around the world, it is not only beneficial but necessary to learn a foreign language, merely to actively engage with the local community.
Once the best language to learn has been determined, or in the case of other students who are already learning languages, they should be directed by the teachers to communities actively involved in the interests of the students.
While many social media sites are very popular with the youth of today, they are not always the best places to actively engage in verbal communications. There are, however, a great many language-specific social media formats where the students can actively engage in written communication in the languages they are studying.
Gaming sites are a surprisingly popular option for live chat online, forcing the student to think quickly about the words they are going to say, as they are reacting to an ever-changing environment within the game. Many of the games online use live chat servers and provide the language students to enjoy their favorite games, while at the same time forcing them to learn their desired languages more efficiently.
The teacher needs to be creative however, as different students will each have their own strengths and interests. The teachers should have at least some idea of where their individual students need to work on improvements.
This may be in written or verbal use of the new language skills, but it is up to the teacher to support the effort of the students. There is no shortage of special interest forums and other groups online where the students can enjoy a more immersive learning environment.
3 Opportunities for Traditional Language Teachers Online
The recent international medical crisis has left many teachers looking for work or otherwise seeking a means to supplement their income online or off. Fortunately, there are many different online opportunities available for teachers who have had their livelihood compromised during recent times.
There is an excellent resource made available through the Wiley Library online for teaching students online. There are precious few resources available for teachers who have been displaced or otherwise inconvenienced.
There has been a major increase in the number of freelancers working online, though many clients are looking only for the cheapest route to an end, and seem to care little about the actual quality. Those teachers that have a laptop or smartphone can still build their presence online, and stand out from the crowd.
Social media campaigns are a great way for teachers to build a following online, though among the top tiers are those who can successfully establish themselves as YouTube influencers. YouTube is the second most popular website on the internet and has the potential to generate literally millions of new students for creative teachers.
In Britain, recent accolades for the “hero teachers” as reported on by the Guardian online, pointed out numerous instances where teachers got creative with all sorts of social media campaigns and ended up greatly expanding their influence, their ability to impart knowledge and in some cases, even generate some good money while doing so.