Новикова Вера Анатольевна
Education: online versus offline? Do we need a real contact when learning a language?
By learning a language we traditionally understand development of communicative skills – reading, listening, speaking and writing, all of which can be efficiently honed in the face-to-face offline environment. However, earlier this year the sci-fi scenario of the pandemic outbreak modified lifestyles of everyone on our planet, including millions of educators who ended up teaching online.
Language teachers have been compelled to adapt their classroom techniques to a new format which lacks direct human contact. No commuting and zero chance to catch the virus alongside the comfort of their cozy chairs appeared to be great benefits alongside being forced to improve their technical skills. Being tourists or immigrants in a digital native world, loads of teachers had no other ways but adapt if they wanted to remain competitive at the virtual market.
Luckily, education and technology have always gone hand in hand. My first black and white photocopied English textbook, filled with Soviet propaganda, seems a mockery compared to the contemporary engaging training toolkits equipped with online components. Millenials are blessed having all digital audios and videos at their fingertips, being able to use emails, chat rooms and various social media. Students can interact with each other as well as learn how to build self-discipline and accountability. Adolescents feel less shy, and they share their thoughts more eagerly as the online space reduces academic pressure.
In a conventional classroom language teachers rely a lot on socializing, which is crucial when building interpersonal communication skills, especially if we speak about students of younger age. In this regard during online lessons students might feel more isolated from their peers. Another important drawback of studying online concerns kinesthetic learners, who feel far more confident in offline environment, as they learn through tactile sensations and physical touch.
The global lockdown merely exposed and accelerated the seismic changes which had started back in the pre-COVID era. We have to admit that there is no going back. Hopefully, most language schools would be able to provide hybrid education modes, combining both online and offline formats in order to teach English efficiently even without a real personal contact.