I’ve browsed through some of the postings and comments on your blog after the closure of schools. One comment from you resonates in my mind and I paraphrase: that the future of the teaching of FL will be online.
Maybe you are right, and that is the sad direction we are moving in, a regression. What I can say from my experience in online “teaching,” is that there can’t ever be true acquisiton of a language without face to face interaction. Maybe some learning.
I have explored everything I think there is to explore in trying to come up with assignments for my classes at each level. I produce assignments, but I think they are a joke, a box we are all checking: for me to justify still getting paid; for my students to justify their grade; for the parents to keep their kids busy doing something that is not playing video-games or banging around the house. All a charade, in my opinion. It is what we do because we have no other choice, given the current circumstances.
I have either checked, used, or created different resources for “busy time,” The following comments are only my own opinion:
Duolingo is shameful. I have tried it with other languages far from the romance languages, such as Norwegian and Arabic. You advance from level to level thinking you are doing great, but at the end nothing really sticks, everything is so out of context that you can’t remember a full sentence about anything. No human interaction. A box checked.
Another shameful resource is Fluency Fast, with their expensive packets of readings with activities and quizzes. It looks good for administrators and checking a box. My district was willing to pay for this, but I would be ripping them off if I had created a P.O. Their product is based on a class reading the same book that I would have to choose. No student choice for what they feel comfortable reading. No reflection of what you say about how the novels are a ripoff in disguise. No human interaction. A box checked.
Then there are short videos, audios etc. I have created listening assignments with my voice, used other’s narrations of stories, adapted videos into slideshows, readings with activities, you name it. Maybe with some luck, some students will remember in September what they were able to acquire before the closedown. But as far as growth, the growth in acquisition that I was counting on seeing in June to lead us into the next year, that is impossible for online “teaching.”
Online “teaching” also leaves behind the slow processors, the ones that need to hear and read the language much more than the rest, the ones that are in my class because they feel good, accepted and part of the group (human interaction) but don’t see themselves doing anything with Spanish, not just after the year ends, but right after the bell rings.
Finally, some might see the future of FL in video conferencing a la Zoom. It is another fallacy in thinking, if we want acquisition. Maybe the grammar teachers can make this (or the flipped class) work. There is no need for face to face interaction in that kind of language instruction. You present the content and students can ask questions while in the video conference and then do work on their own.
Without human interaction we can only expect to perpetuate the teaching models we’ve had up to now: exposition of content and, to quote Alisa, “workshits.” But maybe this is the only true possibility for FL in the school system. I am one of three FL teachers, the only that teaches with The Invisibles. I have a truck load of students, between 40-50% more than my French colleague textbook teacher.
However, I know that many students don’t take my Spanish classes because they don’t like not having the security of a book, the memorization, a robotic plan, and they don’t like the interaction, don’t want to be bothered by having to make eye contact (God forbid).
There are many such students and teachers throughout this country that can’t handle that lack of control. So you might be right about the direction the teaching that FL will take after Covid-19, but it certainly won’t mean acquiring a language.