Language teaching will focus on e-learning more than traditional offline learning in the post-COVID-19 period, said a teacher as the coronavirus forces in-classroom learning to go online across the world.
"I think there will be more focus on distance learning than we used to have before the pandemic. However, this will not completely be the case; face-to-face classes will not be ignored completely," Sahar Alshobaki said in an interview with Anadolu Agency.
Since its outbreak in December 2019, the coronavirus has infected more than 95.4 million people and killed over 2 million people.
The pandemic has pushed the language teaching industry across the world to find alternatives to in-person instruction. Consequently, online education has been used by teachers and students on an unprecedented scale.
Some wonder whether the adoption of online teaching and learning will go on to persist in the post-virus era, and how such a change would affect the language teaching industry globally.
As a result, some questions come to mind on the industry’s future post-pandemic such as will the value of the physical classroom remain the same? Or will going abroad to learn a language become as popular as it used to be?
Alshobaki, 28, who has been teaching Arabic for four years and English for six years, believes face-to-face classes and travelling to a new country to learn its foreign language is in itself an experience that people would love to go for.
"It is not only about the language classes themselves but being in a different country and communicating with the native people of the language that one is trying to learn is as important as taking language classes," Alshobaki added.
- Pros and cons
Comparing the two teaching ways, Alshobaki said each context has its pros and cons.
Alshobaki said face-to-face teaching is more interactive and it is easier to explain and discuss new topics. Online teaching has two parts: synchronous and asynchronous.
"The synchronous part offers a similar environment to the face-to-face classes as there is a direct interaction between the teacher and learners using certain applications/software such as Skype and Zoom," the teacher said.
Noting the online teaching is easier for adults, she said: "Children have a very short attention span generally, and it needs more effort to be creative online in order to grasp their attention all the time in this face-to-screen teaching and learning context."
Touching on the aspect of uncertainty for teachers, she said many have been fired due to ongoing cutdowns.
She went on to say another problem teachers get through in the process is the ability to deal with online environment.
"A lot of teachers were not prepared to teach online and that required a great effort to deal with technology, new software, ways of presenting knowledge and new teaching styles, approaches and methods," she stated.
"I believe now after almost 11 months, everyone learned how to keep the process of teaching and learning going online and are well equipped for this process," she added.
- Students speak
Alshobaki’s students across the globe shared with Anadolu Agency their experience of learning a new language online.
Anita Gutschlag, 56, from New Zealand, who shifted to learning Arabic online said it was a smooth move.
“In terms of the social aspect, the physical class was a lot of fun, but in terms of language learning, it made no real difference and even might have impeded my progress if I missed class due to work or family commitments,” Gutschlag added.
Berrak Karakas, 27, from Turkey said online learning system has its pros and cons.
"First of all we should accept this; this virus changes our minds, and it breaks our taboos about the learning system. People saw other types of learning systems exist in the world," Karakas stated.
"I can learn a new language from my house with online classes but if I should just choose only one option: my choice will be going to another country and living there. I can discover everything with my own experience," she added.
Olesea Bernaz, 23, from Canada thinks there is no difference in the efficiency of learning a language in the classroom or online.
It all depends on the motivation of a student, she said.
"I believe knowledge will always be a privilege, so learning a foreign language through online classes is a great opportunity," Bernaz added.