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Flags at the International Street Fair on Saturday, April 7, 2019. [Alexandria Skowronski | FOR THE POST]

Students adjust to learning languages remotely

Ohio University students have had to adjust their schedules, relationships and extracurriculars due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. But most importantly, students have made the transition to remote learning via online classes

Starting March 23, all OU classes became virtual. The switch to online learning hasn’t been easy for some, especially those in arts or language classes. 

For Cara Tee, a junior studying Spanish and Spanish education, it’s almost impossible to learn a language without practicing and interacting with peers, especially in early 1000-level classes.

“You can't learn a language without being able to communicate with other people,” Tee said. 

Tee is currently taking a Spanish literature class. The class transitioned online, and her professor sends the class a list of things to do each week. Tee said she is essentially teaching herself the materials and reading and writing on her own. Not being able to have class discussions with her peers makes the coursework more challenging for her. 

“A lot of it is analyzing stories and poems,” Tee said. “It’s difficult not to have the ideas of other classmates to not build upon — not having the collaboration amongst each other, and no direction is difficult.”

However, Tee feels that she will not lose any progress that she has made in her Spanish skills. One of her professors even composed a list of resources to keep up with her language learning including books, apps and podcasts. Those resources have been helpful, she said.

Tee said without the in-person communication, students may be receiving grades they haven’t truly earned.

“It’s not as effective as being with people who speak the language ... A lot of (students) will probably be passing classes they shouldn't be passing,” Tee said.

Meredith Klingerman, a freshman studying psychology, said her workload in French has almost doubled since the transition to online classes.

“Even before all our homework was online, it was just like a normal amount,” Klingerman said.
“Now there's a lot of extra assignments and things to do and videos to watch.” 

Klingerman, too, feels she has to teach herself the language content. She said some of her friends are now struggling in the class without being able to get instant feedback and have conversation. But her instructor is still doing a great job at communicating with her students, she said in a text message. 

Sidney Hilston, a freshman studying strategic communications, started taking American Sign Language, or ASL, this Spring Semester for her language requirement. However, for her, ASL became something more.

“Normally, in the classroom, it was really great,” Hilston said. “I really liked the class and liked my teacher ... It motivated me to learn a language and not just do it as a requirement.”

For Hilston, the transition to online classes was somewhat difficult. 

“It definitely requires extra studying and work,” she said. “(I’m) looking over materials a lot more than I did than when I had someone to review things with.”

Hilston also feels her skills in ASL decreased. After a Zoom call with her peers, she felt she was behind and somewhat lost. But for her, learning ASL remotely is just a bit more challenging. As a hearing learner who relied on vocalizations to learn ASL in class, Hilston’s remote learning of the material is a learning experience in and of itself.  

“It makes the situation more real,” Hilston said. “(It) makes you appreciate what you have and gives you a greater insight into deaf culture.”


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