Corinne, who has been running online courses since the first lockdown, looks back on her experience as an online French teacher and in particular on her distance learning courses with advanced students.
“For me there is not much difference with a group in class. Students may think they are more anonymous behind their computer than in a face-to-face class but this is really not the case. First of all because KLF groups are very small, which helps exchanges. Very quickly a climate of trust is established in the group in which everyone can express their needs and expectations. Technology does not hinder the consideration of needs and participation. In fact, online, another intimacy is created. We are all at home, in our own world, with our coffee or tea… After the initial discomfort, we can relax and communicate with others quite easily. Of course the teacher must create a good atmosphere in the group, but we know how to do that because it’s the same thing in class. I find that the students discipline themselves very quickly. They are attentive. Everyone listens to each other. You have to learn a little at the beginning with the technical restrictions but very quickly the students exchange during the course with fluidity. Spontaneity sets in very quickly.
On the other hand, I have noticed that a more reserved student has more easily, if he wishes, the possibility to stand back and listen to the others. This is also a freedom allowed by the technique.
Finally, I would like to say that we need to demystify the “technical” aspect of online courses. You might think that everyone is very connected and that no one has problems with technology, but this is not always the case. When we have doubts about these technical issues, we should not hesitate to ask questions to others. There is a lot of understanding and help. I would even say that this mutual help at the beginning makes exchanges between students much easier.
To conclude I would say that the courses online are not colder or more impersonal. As a classroom course, an online class is a small community that shares the same love and willingness to learn French together. If I can modestly, as a teacher, contribute to making this moment of sharing a success, then it’s mission accomplished! ! “