Yasmine Martinet, LanguageBird French Instructor
One of the very interesting themes that have risen in the media and in people’s daily lives during those odd times of ours, is the « new » phenomenon of remote schooling. It was mostly a fringe thing, uncharted territory, which sounds exciting, but the reality is that there is a lot to figure out still. At the same time, we are in a situation that requires teachers, schools, students and parents to just try to figure it out on the fly, while maintaining the same quality of instruction.
Therefore, the knowledge and expertise of the people who have already been venturing into those uncharted territories has become extremely valuable. We have learned how to mitigate many of the pitfalls of online learning, which strangely overlap with the downsides of social distancing in Covid19 times. Those would be: social isolation and lack of interaction, as well as overexposure to screens and lack of sensory variety. LanguageBird decided a long time ago that teaching online would not mean not interacting with people: social interaction and friendly conversation is the base of our teaching philosophy, and the base for effective and pleasurable language learning in general. Learning a language without ever interacting with speakers of that language, we believe, is just like getting the ingredients for a wonderful dessert and never actually making it!
Our students not only get to interact face to face with great teachers from around the world (to read more on the benefits of that aspect of LanguageBird click here), but also teachers who have been figuring out how to teach online in the best possible way for a long time. As online teachers, and as teachers in general, we know that it is important to encourage students to apply their knowledge to real world situations in a way that will make them improve their language skills but also get something personal satisfaction out of it. For example, one of my students is interested in cooking, so we chose some recipes for her to try out: she’ll print them out in French, get the ingredients and cook (still possible in Covid19 times), and then she’ll be able to experience French food, from her home, with her family, while learning new phrases and French vocabulary!
We have learned to create that kind of activity to mitigate the loss of sensory contact, but that’s not it! As an additional way to break down social isolation LanguageBird has come up with the brilliant and adorable concept of Chirp Rooms. They are sessions, throughout the week, where teachers bring in themes and moderate conversations in a specific language for groups of students, who get to interact with each other and the teacher through video-conferencing. As such, they get to get to know new people, from far away places, while learning a new language. There’s such a deep well of opportunities to improve on our children’s well-being and excitement for life, everyone should jump on the occasion!
On another more practical note, LanguageBird teachers have also learned that when teaching online, it is necessary to keep a much more robust written trace of everything that happens during and around the lessons. We provide thorough and thoughtful lesson notes after each session, and as many guiding documents as possible to the students, so that they never feel lost or confused, and so that the parents can best help their children. This is a tricky part for newcomers to online schooling, but we know how to help you through the shift and make it as smooth as possible. Come on over!