Teaching the Whole Class: Technology for Differentiated Instruction Thomas Jesús GarzaAssociate Professor of Slavic and Eurasian Studies and Director, Texas Language CenterUniversity of Texas at Austin Welcome all! The 2020s…
How do we engage adult novice language learners using task-based learning and authentic or near-authentic materials with content that permits further inquiry into history and culture, while also creating an inclusive learning environment and different pathways to learning and assessment, in hybrid and/or blended settings? For LCTL programs, the question has pragmatic implications in terms of enrollments, student retention, and program viability. While technological integration in the language classroom is not new, emergency remote teaching prompted us to reimagine the language classroom in post-pandemic times, as a flexible, accessible, safe, and inclusive learning space that affords multiple means of engagement, representation, and action/expression, and where participants are active agents in their own learning process. These are not new concerns, but the pandemic underscored the urgency for changes in curriculum design and assessment.
When I reflect back on the astonishing experience of teaching for more than an entire school year on Zoom, I am surprised by how much I gained from it. One of its many benefits was that I allowed myself an extraordinary amount of freedom to experiment with new approaches to teaching Spanish. I made a concerted effort to liberate myself from my usual perfectionism so that I could try new methods and tools, keeping what worked well and jettisoning whatever did not. It was fun! This intellectual freedom is one of the unexpected benefits of the pandemic that I will try to keep present in my daily approach to planning.
To say the past year has been challenging for educators is an understatement. Still, when teachers everywhere scrambled to some version of online teaching in the wake of the pandemic, there was some comfort in the continuity of the educational endeavor itself and, perhaps surprisingly, healthy growth as we learned different ways of doing things and experimented with new exercises.
In Part 1 of this post about preparation strategies for synchronous sessions, I wrote about setting up your physical space. But once you’ve set up your rockstar teaching space, it’s time to turn to prepping your virtual environment.
Since March of 2020, when much of the world was forced into the world of online education kicking and screaming due to the Coronavirus pandemic, there have been hundreds, probably thousands of articles and blog posts written on the topic of how to survive when teaching online. But what language instructors tell me they long for as they scour the internet, is nuanced advice on how to teach languages online—advice that is bolstered by strong pedagogy and grounded in experience.
In the face-to-face part of my beginning hybrid Russian classes, I sometimes use games that involve game pieces that I have created using index cards. When our courses switched to fully online, I wanted a way to incorporate similar games in our synchronous online classroom.
During this pandemic, Zoom is being widely used for online teaching. As an instructor who teaches Chinese as a second language (L2), I have found Zoom’s Annotate function very useful in terms of promoting active learning and providing instructors with timely feedback on students’ learning outcomes.
Handwriting practice is arguably one of the easiest learning goals to shift to an asynchronous delivery mode, both in terms of demonstrating techniques and giving feedback to student work. Save your precious meeting time for student interaction and demonstrate handwriting techniques via pre-recorded videos.
There are a number of strategies you can use to demonstrate handwriting techniques online as well as give feedback on and evaluate student work. Choosing the best strategy for you will depend on your specific goals as well as what tools are available to you.