Online classes are here to stay. What began as a temporary teaching measure thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic around the world, has become a
real long-term solution for many educational institutes throughout the United States. Teaching French is no exception, as French teaching
institutes keep creating online French classes programs.
But are online classes really valid? Is it possible to acquire the same amount of learning with online language courses as with a face-to-face one? And why not think that we could learn even more from them?
Let's face it, the experience of a regular in-person class is really good. You can share with all your colleagues in a place specially designed to learn a language. Yes, this is a great advantage. In addition, you have direct contact with your teacher to be able to ask all the doubts that you may have. This does not happen with online language classes, right?
Well, yes, it does, just in a different way. The online classes have adopted every aspect of the in-person ones, looking for alternatives to every aspect of the teaching experience. Let's see some examples:
When you have a question, you usually call your teacher to come to your seat. Now you press a button so that she/he realizes that you have something to comment on. The online adaptation allows teachers to have a global approach to the virtual classroom and to have a real-time record of what is happening in the classroom.
As the interaction mechanisms are through instant messaging, teachers will have the opportunity to help each student who needs it in an orderly manner, in addition, for the shy students in the group, it will be easier for them to interact with teachers and raise all their doubts, whether reading, writing, or else, in a safe space, without seeing themselves as the center of attention every time they raise their virtual hand.
In addition to learning words and phrases and practising reading comprehension, a course seeks to share with other people and put into practice what is learned, even outside the classroom. In the case of online classes, this exercise becomes global! You can easily be learning a language with colleagues who are on different continents, this offers a great opportunity to learn about a different context, in the case of French, learn French culture and facts from another perspective.
There are different messaging apps such as WhatsApp or Telegram that will allow students to share outside of class hours, and even more, will allow the teacher to share interesting resources such as videos, news, stories and music. Thanks to voice memos, they can even work with speaking practice.
When learning French, especially if you are a complete beginner, interactive games are an essential part of the training. In a physical environment, board games can be a completely valid teaching technique, but this does not have to change when migrating to an online environment. Alternating teaching with activities and resources in sites like kahoot.com, cerebriti.com or french-games.net allows students to learn while having fun and reinforce what they learn during the lesson.
An online environment in which students must pay attention can be challenging, but it is perfectly achievable. This will allow parents to help their children create a safe, comfortable and organized environment in which to learn quietly. As with online jobs, which are more and more common every day, it is important to assign a space in our home that is only dedicated to classes and learning tasks. Working together with the kids to decorate that space (I recommend adding plants) gives parents the opportunity to teach commitment and organization.
Online French classes will allow the student to learn at their own pace, but it is important to remember that there are specialized environments that will allow you to practice what is learned online in a face-to-face environment. By searching for different Francophone organizations close to where they live, students can come into direct contact with the language, learn about different cultural fields, from food to different learning techniques, and demonstrate their knowledge with different activities focused on “La Francophonie”.
Wherever you are in the United States, Alliance Française Silicon Valley offers online French classes at all levels and with a personalized learning style. Feel free to see our class template and contact us to find out which one is the best for you.
As you can see, online classes do not seek to replace face-to-face classes, they only offer an alternative that allows sharing the classroom with the whole world. As Stephen Fry says, e-books will replace physical books in the same way that elevators will replace stairs. In the same way, online classes and face-to-face classes will coexist together and both offer great advantages. The teachers who have made this transition realize the challenges that they entail as well as the great advantages, and with a lot of love and dedication, they are in charge of transmitting their vocation and love for teaching through the screen, as well as they do in the classroom. À bientôt!
Written by Alejandro Ramírez G.