Posted by: SSU Lingua Franca | May 5, 2021

A Year of Online Teaching and Learning

By Nicole Sherf

What a year it has been!  Just over a year ago, after spring break 2020, our courses were moved online.  Little did we know then that we would be mostly online over the year and that most parts of our life would be affected by the global COVID-19 pandemic over that time.  We are so sorry for the negative health, financial and social impact that so many of our students have and are still enduring.  With a vaccine being distributed across the state and the country, there is hope that life may return to a new normal before too long, even while high rates of infection and variants are troublesome. 

As you signed up for your fall courses, you noticed that many of them are scheduled in person, back on campus.  Before the pandemic, most language professors would have said that online language learning would be difficult if not impossible.  We certainly discovered that interactive activities are hard to facilitate online, especially for the language requirement and lower level courses.  In the initial stages of language development, learners benefit from face to face attention and a personal and supportive sense of community as they learn to use strategies to facilitate comprehension and produce output in the new language. 

In the upper level and graduate language courses, interactions between more experienced language speakers are more easily produced online and in breakout rooms, requiring fewer language supports.  While we know that this was not the ideal situation for many of you and that internet and computer access was not consistent for all of you, it really is amazing that we live in an age where the technological access and resources could support the transition to online. 

Many of our departmental majors and all of our graduate students are teachers in training or teaching already.  Our teacher supervision and field work were moved online.  Our teacher preparation programmatic assessments were also moved online which makes documentation and analysis easier.  The response from graduate students was positive and the Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) Spanish Coordinator Dr. Fátima Serra is investigating the steps to make it a fully online program.  This will open up the program to more students regardless of distance from Salem.

Area K-12 districts in which our graduate students are involved have phased back and forth through different and various stages of online, hybrid and in person teaching.  We know that many of our departmental students have been working over this pandemic in teaching and other essential work in the community.  We also know that many of you have families to care for and other obligations.  We are so proud of your dedication and understand that this juggle is never easy but is much less so in these times of pandemic and unrest.  We hope that you have felt support from our WLC community and that you know how much we want your success.  We look forward to the days of in person celebrations again!

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