Q: How does it feel to be back in class?
A: Good! During the lockdown I taught via LINE – making teaching videos and having Q&A sessions with some of the students. This was a useful fill-in in the absence of classes but not as effective as face-to-face interaction. When you teach in class you get immediate feedback on how students are responding – do they understand, are they comfortable, unsure? – and you can respond and adjust accordingly. Also, effective teaching and learning is a deeply social activity – so you need to be together in class for this!
Q: What are some of the challenges you face in teaching during a pandemic?
A: Obviously, we all wear masks, so a main issue is a lack of visual cues from people’s faces to support communication. Without these visual clues, I need to be more explicit in conveying meaning and rely heavily on other ways to support understanding – pictures, actions, audio etc. Also, with my mouth hidden it’s not possible to help students with pronunciation by showing how you use your mouth, tongue, teeth etc for certain sounds – like tongue through teeth for ‘th’, or the difference in tongue position for ‘r’ and ‘l’ sounds. So, I have started supplementing the classes with recap videos where students can hear again how words are pronounced and see how you use your mouth to do it.
Q: Is there something you’re doing differently to better engage your students during a lesson?
A: There’s been some membership changes due to the pandemic. Sadly, some of our students have left due to challenges in their life circumstances. But also, new students have joined post-lockdown. So, a priority has been creating a supportive, comfortable atmosphere as quickly as possible. As I said before, learning is deeply social and so students need to feel comfortable not only with their teacher but with each other too. To support this, I have increased the number of activities which involve students working with each other and change groups and pairs frequently. This helps avoid
the formation of cliques and ensures a more equal environment for all.
Q: How would you describe their level of enthusiasm compared with before?
A: Impressive as before! Despite the challenges in their personal and work lives, exacerbated by the pandemic, the students give their full attention to class. They listen well, participate well, bring positive energy to the class. And they do their homework…..mostly!