Teaching Foreign Languages in a Virtual Classroom

Written by April Willis

July 20, 2022

Learning a completely new language is already a challenge for many students nationwide. In a virtual classroom setting, it is also harder for instructors to engage their students and make the class interactive- something that is vital for students in a foreign language class to digest the material fully. In this article, we will dive into different strategies for teaching a foreign language within a virtual classroom to make sure all students are meeting their full potential to engage.

Tech Setup

Ensure you fully understand every facet of the mediums you are teaching through. Whether you have a flipped classroom or synchronous lectures on zoom, be sure you fully understand the software you are using not only to prevent problems, but to make sure you are using the software as intended. Without a full understanding of your teaching mediums, precious teaching time will be wasted on many different troubleshooting occasions.

Sprinkle In Multimedia

Teaching with different media is essential in a foreign language class for students to learn a language in different formats. By incorporating movies, chats, voice recordings, and other media into your teaching, students will be able to relate to the language in their own life and stay engaged. Providing assignments that also involve different media, including creating a social media advertisement or self-directed podcast, your students will have fun and bring out their creative side in the process of learning a completely new language.

Gamify Your Teaching Process

In a foreign language class, it is important for the students to be fully immersed in the language and engaged with the entire class, whether it’s a discussion or a lecture. To further the engagement in a virtual classroom, having Kahoot competitions or more role-playing situations will allow students to keep the students interacting in a different language with new stimuli. Overall, gamification allows students to look forward to coming to class and enjoy their experience with a new language.

Incorporate Cultural Elements

Within your instruction, it’s necessary to incorporate cultural elements into the curriculum of the class for students to understand the implications of a foreign language they are learning in the classroom to the outside world. Whether it’s discovering different cities through Google Maps or having students participate in relevant cultural celebrations, they will understand the full possibilities of learning a language in such a globalized world.

Have A Virtual Pen Pal

Having a foreign pen pal is one of the most iconic parts of a foreign language class and you can still have that within a virtual classroom! After finding a school that speaks the foreign language you are teaching, you can have your students create videos of them speaking in the new language to send to the school’s students. A virtual pen pal program allows students to understand the potential of learning a new language while fostering a friendship among pen pals.

Check-In With Students

For many students, a virtual classroom is relatively new compared to the in-person classrooms they have been learning in their whole life. Especially with a completely new language, checking in is necessary to make sure that they are doing okay not just in the virtual setting of the classroom, but in their outside life. This can even be integrated into the class itself by having students write, in the foreign language, their thoughts on a daily insightful prompt or how they are mentally doing. By regularly checking in, students will be more comfortable with the instructor and the class itself, keeping them even more engaged.