Language Barriers

What challenges face foreign language teachers during the quarantine

Anja Canow strives to give her students a rounded learning expiriences from home. “I am trying to offer the students a variety of activities that cover all language skills,” Canow Said.

Courtesy of Anja Canow

Anja Canow strives to give her students a rounded learning expiriences from home. “I am trying to offer the students a variety of activities that cover all language skills,” Canow Said.

Jordan Wilson

Teaching a new language is difficult as it is. Imagine how difficult it becomes when it is forced to be taught online. This is the struggle that Foreign language teachers must deal with.

“I have students record themselves in Flipgrid or with the Schoology recording option. That way, there is still some output in the language. It may not seem like a lot of speaking, but students have to think about how to say it in German,” German teacher Anja Canow said.

To emphasize the speaking aspect of a language foreign language teachers are having their students record themselves answering questions instead of typing everything.

“I am trying to offer the students a variety of activities that cover all language skills (speaking, listening, reading, and writing). While virtual learning cannot replace a language teacher and recreate 50 minutes of daily instructions, I can still give the students opportunities to practice, listen, and learn with online activities until they are back in the classroom where they can see my facial expressions, see my language supporting gestures, and can listen to my cultural input aside from class content,” Canow said. 

Which do you prefer?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

Variety is key for students learning virtually so that they don’t get burned out and with a foreign language there are multiple parts that need to be practiced.

“I use a German news channel created for teenagers and ask questions about what they have heard. There are also interesting podcasts. My lower levels do revisions to practice content knowledge,” Canow said.

Foreign language news channels can be a great way for students to hear the language and retain their abilities.

“Throughout these past weeks, most students are working and continue learning the language. They are trying to stay engaged. This situation has been a big challenge for all of us. One big advantage of teaching all five levels is that I will keep my students next year,” Canow said.

The quarantine is undoubtedly going to have a negative impact on student learning but foreign language teachers have the benefit of keeping the same students and that allows them to meet the students at their level.

“A good way to maintain the language during the quarantine is to listen to German music and podcasts. I created a Schoology folder with extra material that the students can engage with. Also, join Google Meet where we play Quizlet Live and use our language skills,” said.

Doing activities that focus on different areas of a language such as listening, speaking and writing is a great way to keep all the different skills sharp.

Online learning is a process for everyone involved and foreign language teachers are no exception as they have had to adapt their teaching style some of the most but they continue to teach through a variety of different resources.