By EWN • 06 September 2021 • 15:34
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought various effects on human life. One area that was affected is language literacy learning. Reports from education experts suggest that there is a decline in the growth of literacy and language learning among many children. It forced schools to turn to distance learning during the pandemic. However, students and parents have raised concerns about the quality of instruction for English learners.
According to studies, English is the most used language globally, especially on the internet. Additionally, it is the language used to train most disciplines which means having a good command of English allows you to train in their subject areas.
Effect of Distance Learning On English Learners
English tutors and learners have had challenges adjusting. Some tutors claim that it is difficult to translate certain teaching strategies into an online environment. For instance, children need to be communicating in English, and the teachers are supposed to provide them with scaffolds. However, this can be a tall order in a large online classroom setting.
Another challenge many English learners are facing is a complete lack of access to the required technology to attend an online class. Furthermore, getting access to the internet is not a walk in the park for families in tough economic times. This situation leaves these English learners dependent on their districts.
However, not all districts could afford to provide all students with laptops and internet access. Additionally, several districts have also revealed that many families are struggling with other basics such as food and health. These prevailing conditions make it hard for English learners to learn from home.
Importance of Face-To-Face English Learning
English is a popular language worldwide. As a result, children need to be proficient in social and academic language to succeed in society and school. You learn social language skills to enable you to perform daily interactions like casual conversations.
Additionally, you will also need to learn English for academic purposes. Academic language involves the use of specialized vocabulary and phrases used in subject area materials. Experts argue that it takes up to 3 years to learn the social language and around 7 years to acquire academic language.
The pandemic interrupted normal learning for English learners and tutors. For instance, it reduces the number of social interactions, which is essential to language learning. In fact, some parents reported that their children lacked opportunities to speak English with their counterparts. To try to cover up for the lack of face-to-face interactions, parents encouraged their children to interact with other students on social media. They also encouraged them to play video games and watch television to expose them to social language.
However, experts argue that, although these activities exposed students to social language learning, they could not replace face-to-face interactions. Moreover, it was challenging for parents to offer the learners academic language support like explaining concepts.
As parents grappled with how to support their children’s homework assignments, they had to go online for solutions. They contacted online English tutors and teachers to offer their kids online English lessons.
However, reports have revealed that online instruction limits the students’ academic language input. For instance, in the first few weeks when the pandemic hit, online tutors reported little or no systematic guidance. Consequently, teachers opted to offer a few hours of synchronous learning every week. On the other hand, others chose to use asynchronous mode.
Online instruction also affected regular pedagogy. Teachers forced to observe social distancing had to reinvent their teaching. For instance, they had to do away with experiential learning activities like field trips and other communal activities.
How Did Teachers Innovate?
The challenges brought about by the COVID-19 have also created opportunities for classroom instruction and after-school support. The pandemic has affected language and literacy learning in various ways. The challenges that emerged based on the pandemic pushed the teachers to be more innovative.
For instance, because learners have language and literacy skills disparities, teachers had to alter the learning tasks. The teachers also had to integrate their students’ well-being into language and literacy learning. They achieved this by giving learners the language and space to express themselves and share their feelings.
Moreover, teachers performed culturally relevant teaching by allowing learners to share their home lives and interests during storytelling sessions. The most common topics discussed include siblings, pets, and what they enjoy doing with their family. Learners were also allowed to share about their favorite food and traditions they celebrate.
Teachers also shared strategies on how technology would help develop social and academic language when teaching online. For instance, they encouraged setting up group work and reading bubbles. They also encouraged their learners to play fun games.
Online language learning is not an unknown phenomenon. However, the pandemic has enabled stakeholders to seriously consider improving the online learning experience. Experts have argued that the infrastructure developed during the pandemic would form a firm foundation for the future of language learning globally.
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