Canadian Association of Second Language Teachers (CASLT) / Association canadienne des professeurs de langue seconde (ACPLS)
Engaging Second Language Learners via My Virtual Classroom
During the COVID-19 pandemic, not only did teachers need to reconfigure and rebuild their traditional, physical classrooms, they had the added parallel task of having to manage teaching and learning in virtual classrooms. Teachers needed to be supported to confront this additional workload. Those with limited knowledge and practice with distance learning and virtual classrooms had been seeking answers to some fundamental questions such as: How is language teaching and learning online different than in a traditional classroom? How do I manage an online language classroom? How do I accurately assess language learning in a virtual classroom? How can I maximize use of the target language?
In response to these questions, CASLT developed a series of 8 webinars to improve and/or consolidate teacher knowledge and skills in distance learning. The seminars were offered in French and English from mid-August 2020 to March 2021 for a total of 16 synchronous sessions. Each seminar offers accompanying teaching materials (ex.: fact sheets, check lists, etc.).
Seminars were an hour long (45-minute presentation and 15-minute Q&A period). They included teaching materials, opportunities to interact with subject experts, access to CASLT resources, and references to additional resources. The topics included:
- An introduction to remote learning
- Managing a distance learning classroom
- Effective integration of Computer-Assisted Language Learning
- Developing multi-literacies for building language portfolios
- Developing specific competencies (production and reception)
- Tools, materials, games, and resources
- Engaging Learners online through the Action Oriented Approach
- Reliable Assessment Practices in the context of distance learning
The seminars are available on CASLT’s Learning Centre.
As a follow-up to these sessions, CASLT produced a report, an article for Reflexions magazine and some blog articles on the enduring innovations resulting from the shift to online and blended teaching. Resources are available on the CASLT website.
Main takeaways (learnings)
The project went very well:
- Participants learned to teach online without experience.
- They discovered professional learning communities as useful for surviving the pandemic.
- CASLT’s reputation for producing quality content was reinforced.
- The project led to increased capacity and skill to offer this kind of programme online.
- To reach our target audiences.
- For networking to create new partnerships.
- To forge agreements offering advantageous member services.
- To offer support and resources from embassies to teach their languages in Canada.
- To make students aware of CASLT’s services and encourage participation in its activities such as workshops and conferences.
- CASLT is eager to support indigenous languages educators and stakeholders, and collaborate with them in appropriate ways.
- To renew partnership agreements with 25-30 organizations.
- For mutual aid/reciprocity.
- To increase membership — for outreach and communicating service offerings (ex.: resources, professional development).
- For conferences.
- For an exchange of services (ex.: advertising).