Students and instructors reflect on virtual language education for the fall term

While most of the theory lessons were done in person during the fall term, the language lessons were an anomaly, remaining mostly virtual due to the challenges of wearing the mask in a language learning environment.

The University’s decision to keep language courses at a distance was taken “to ensure a quality classroom experience,” Joy Leighton, spokesperson for the School of Humanities and Sciences, wrote in a statement to The Daily.

Leighton explained that due to the Santa Clara County and college mask mandates, student voices can be muffled in masks, which is “not conducive to learning” in a class. tongue.

Language teaching will continue to take place virtually over the next winter term due to Stanford’s continued mask tenure, according to Leighton.

At the end of the fall term, students and language teachers reflected on their language experiences online.

Marguerite DeMarco ’25, FRENLANG 21C student: “Second year of French: cultural accent, first trimester”, takes two hours of French twice a week. While DeMarco was fascinated by the content she learned in class, she said she often struggled to stay focused during the two-hour virtual class. “Sometimes I have a headache at the end of class,” she said.

Chinese teacher Huazhi Wang acknowledged the psychological and physical consequences of online education. She said that sitting for hours giving classes gave her “a pain in the tailbone.”

But Wang added that one of his students said he was happy with the online format, which the student said provides a balance to other in-person classes.

“The hybrid is actually a really good model for a lot of people,” Wang said.

Dustin Humphries ’24, a student of SPANLANG 102: “Composition and Writing Workshop”, recalled that teaching languages ​​online has a number of advantages. He said he appreciates that students can easily join virtual classes even when they’re not feeling well. He also added that being able to see the faces of classmates is beneficial for language learning.

But Humphries also acknowledged the challenges of learning languages ​​online, adding that it was easy for him to get distracted in class. Humphries recalled his experience listening to presentations from classmates and struggling to listen to his peers talk for a long time online.

Wang also reflected on the same point, saying that limiting oneself to virtual interaction often leads to psychological problems. “We still need face-to-face contact,” Wang said.

Still, Humphries described his virtual language classroom as “functioning well,” adding that his teacher makes good use of technology to engage students.

Wang said online education gave him a new perspective on the role final exams play in student learning. Although she took the final exams at her fifth grade Chinese class before the pandemic, she decided to drop the final class exams this term as last year’s online format made her realize that exams are not the only indicator of assessment of student learning. She added that online education can continue to generate “new models and methodologies, and many ways to handle general communication.”

For DeMarco, the value of language lessons outweighs the disadvantages of virtual education. She said she plans to continue taking French in the next term.

“I think it’s really important to keep taking languages ​​even if it’s not ideal,” she said.

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