Online Language Learning in the Time of COVID: Instructor and Student Perspectives


While computer assisted language learning has been a long-established form of instruction (Chapelle, 2005; Lim & Aryadoust, 2022), this mode of learning surged during the recent pandemic when in-person instruction was rapidly shifted online. While the process of planning for online language instruction has been studied in detail (Pawan et al., 2016), the sudden migration to online instruction rendered instructors and students responding to language instruction their new environment.
This study examines feedback from students and instructors about their experiences learning and teaching English online from March 2020 to December 2020. Intensive English Program (IEP) instructors completed an anonymous online survey with open-ended questions about their challenges and successes during the abrupt transition to online instruction resulting from COVID-19 policies. The instructors’ responses were coded and analyzed through thematic analysis (Nowell et al., 2017) to find pedagogical solutions to issues identified in the data. The data themes were member checked to ensure interrater reliability.
The results of that analysis revealed three main areas of concern— how to use educational technology, how to facilitate online student-teacher interaction, and how to foster institutional support. This analysis prompted an investigation of how students described their own experiences during the online transition. Student writing samples from IEP courses that were entirely online during that time were examined. The study used the same themes for student texts as an initial coding framework for instructor responses. While the student study found some common themes with the instructor study, some difference in responses occurred between the two groups. Though both groups mentioned challenges with technology, for example, the nature of their concerns differed based on their role in the course—consumer vs creator. After comparing the responses from instructors and students, the presenters will share unique concerns from each group before making conclusions about how the differing perspectives can inform instructional practices for online language learning.

Abstract Summary
This presentation will compare the results of two qualitative studies that explored how intensive English program instructors and international students responded to the rapid transition to online learning because of the COVID pandemic. One study was an open-ended survey about instructors’ experiences of migrating to online instruction during COVID, while the other study examined student texts about their experiences. Respondents in both populations shared both benefits and challenges that were encountered during this time. After describing the similarities and differences between themes in the two groups’ narratives, the presentation will provide some conclusions about how these diverse experiences can inform future instruction in online language learning.

Author Information
Gwendolyn Williams, Auburn University, United States
Mary Diamond, Auburn Global, United States

Paper Information
Conference: WorldCALL2023
Stream: Distance / Online Learning

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Posted by James Alexander Gordon