I must confess that since teaching students via Skype or Google hangout, I am having a lot of fun! I have also noticed the many benefits of online instruction.
First of all, the learner is in the comfort of his home which helps lowering the affective filter. I have to admit that the first session can be a bit stressful because of the technology challenges. Issues can arise such as will the webcam work? why can’t I hear you although my earphones are new?… It is also the first time I make contact and the learner can be nervous and show anxiety. However, once the technical problems are sorted and the learner feels relaxed talking to me, the safe and affirming environment will make the learner “blossom and grow in his or her language development“. “This setting facilitates risk-taking behavior in regards to practicing and learning a second language.”
The lessons, I prefer to call them sessions, are flexible which means that if the learner feels tired and unfocused one day, we can agree to shorten the session and do a longer one another day or the next week. Needless to say it is perfect for language acquisition since the learner’s brain needs to listen and comprehend a lot of “new” input which requires concentration.
The sessions are also intensive. I offer my students to meet at least twice a week for 30 minutes maximum. I meet them often for a short time which means that the sessions are productive and never boring. I will spend the beginning of the session for 5 to 10 minutes asking the learner personalized questions. If it is the start of the week, we will talk about the weekend, otherwise we can talk about hobbies or about some interesting news. I also share articles to read or videos to watch via Edmodo and I will then check comprehension and discuss the resource with the learner. It will take 5 to 10 minutes and then it will be time to close the session by retelling what we have talked about during the session, so that the learner gets more repetition of high frequency words and more comprehensible input. I will also ask the learner to read a particular post or watch a special video before next session so that we can discuss it next.
Finally the sessions are personalized. I dedicate a lot of the sessions time to find out the learners’ interests through personalized questions. I can then look for resources which are of interest to the learner. That way the learner is hooked and looks forward to meeting me online to talk about what he or she likes.
All in all, I believe that they are great advantages to online language acquisition.
What about you? Have you experienced online teaching? What are your thoughts?
Be sure to check out my Language Facilitator Page about how to become fluent in another language.