English Language Learners tackle online learning

Throughout 2020, there have been various adjustment periods with life changing due to the spread of COVID-19. But these periods of adaption are nothing compared to what English Language Learners must face when navigating the new realm of online learning and learning how to speak English in a country most affected by the pandemic.

Now nearing seven months into the pandemic, students are finding themselves struggling to navigate the world of online learning. From technological issues, lack of resources available in the household, and overall difficulty to understand online learning, it is evident that each student and teacher is facing their fair share of challenges.

However, this is nothing compared to the students who are still learning English and navigating life in a new country. 

English Language Development teacher Julianna Rodman gives her perspective as an ELD teacher to what these students are facing every day. Similar to most students, English Language Learner students are experiencing both the pros and cons of digital learning. 

From the classwork given, homework, and other activities outside of school, like most students, balancing all of these factors along with learning English is “overwhelming for them to say the least,” Rodman explains. 

One of the most universally experienced issues when it comes to ELL students and online learning is the language barrier being intensified and separated by the computer screen.

The communication barrier is heightened because students are not in the classroom where they are able to more easily ask for help from classmates or teachers at any time,” Rodman describes.

However, ELL students are embracing this new form of learning and taking advantage of being able to do some of their work at their own pace. Pre-recorded videos and instruction written digitally often helps ELL students due to the fact that they are able to pause any videos and read at their own pace in comparison to the fast-paced environment that a digital call of the traditional would offer. 

“Students have also said parts of online learning, like video lectures, are better for them because they can view the material at their own pace and replay it if needed,” Rodman adds.

Apart from that, some students are having difficulty with technology in general. Whether this be from issues with internet connection or even obtaining proper technology for online learning, ELL students are enduring the same challenges that many students are facing. 

Nevertheless, Rodman is extremely proud of her students and the progress they have made in maneuvering this new system of online learning.

I am incredibly proud of my EL students and the work that they put in each day. I can see how difficult and overwhelming it is for them some days, but I admire their ability to [persevere], problem solve, and stay positive,” Rodman concludes.