Gartenstein-Ross: Is it so different? Teaching students the language can be challenging, but it can also be an enlightening experience.
What Is Central To Language Learning To Both Online And Classroom Based Environments
Successful language learning in both the classroom setting and online is not as different as one might assume. As online participants have long found, content is king when it comes to getting people engaged in learning. But there are equally important characteristics of effective online learning environments that many schools fail to take into account.
Classroom Based Environments
Because of their 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week nature, classrooms tend to be fertile ground for online language learning. The same way that English learners have found a variety of ways to engage in online conversations with classmates, so too can other language learners learn how to effectively represent themselves in their own classes.
What online learners can learn from classroom-based environments is the ability to learn from any support that a teacher might provide. While online teaching is often seen as a substitute for a classroom setting, it’s actually beneficial to be able to learn to teach yourself. And an online classroom is a perfect place to hone those skills.
Online Teachers Make Learning Easy
The end goal of online learning is to provide efficient assistance that a student can readily access. In classrooms, students are trained and shaped not only by their native language teachers, but also by their peers. In online learning, that style of teaching is gained through internet connectivity. The results can be near instant, but the form and structure of a classroom setting lends itself to being a supportive environment for every learner.
Online Teachers Are Educators
For many students, internet connectivity has become as essential to language learning as their native language. But the benefits of online learning extend beyond simply using the internet for more teaching opportunities.
By comparison, educators are normally limited by an online classroom experience that is distinctly different than their physical classroom. Students enter a room, take a seat, and are taught how to read, write, and speak a language. Education is a time-intensive process, and while there are many excellent, affordable options for online instruction, it’s usually difficult to pursue the advantages of such a class without a spare hour or two.
Lack of contact with teachers often deters some students from choosing an online curriculum, but much of this also stems from a lack of online teacher experiences themselves. While some online learning situations do feature online teachers who are talented but also provide comfortable and supportive learning environments, an overwhelming majority of these teachers lack the empathy and insight to support a large student body.
Assistants Are Resources To Learn And Take The Lead
While the online environment is often portrayed as an inferior alternative to classroom language learning, there are many areas of online learning that can be applied in good ways in a classroom setting. In classrooms, students often rely on a team-of-teachers model, which can provide the best of both worlds.
Teachers are often a valuable source of support in their own right, but assistants are there to reinforce lessons and keep the atmosphere loose. In fact, assistant teachers can often provide the best form of mentorship for students who have been in an online environment for a long time. While an online grade-book is important, it should be combined with a comprehensive support system from teaching assistants who can help make the learning experience more fun and efficient.
Acknowledge The Advantages Online Learning Can Provide
Learning is often what drives successful, competitive students. Online environments enable students to overcome challenges faster and to learn more efficiently when provided with a wide variety of support. They also present the first legitimate opportunity for international language learning, which was made possible by this concept in the first place.
A native language student who joins an online classroom can begin a new experience that does not normally exist on traditional campus teaching. That means that students have the unique opportunity to work together while learning a language that is a second language. When the time comes for inter-classroom communication, it may be beneficial to accept the skill set that the internet provides as a positive complement to traditional classroom learning.
After all, any available support for a student is a bonus, whether online or in-class.