Originally posted in La Plaza Press
By CYRUS ENGELSMAN
For many students, learning a foreign language can be difficult. However, learning in a distance learning environment makes things a lot harder for students. Because Spanish classes rely so much on in-person interaction, it becomes difficult to learn when you can’t interact with people as often. Teachers have been trying hard to help students in their journey, and have come up with a few ways to help their students who are struggling.
A lot of teachers understand how difficult the class can be in this setting and try to make it easier for everyone to succeed in. One of the best ways to learn a language is to speak it, which is hard to do in an online setting.
Redlands East Valley High School Spanish and French teacher Michael Celano said, “In online learning, when I ask a question to or for a response from the whole class, I often get nothing but silence, whereas when we’re all together in a classroom, I get plenty of response.”
Due to being in an online format, Celano believes that participation is crucial in improving language skills at home.
“Nudge yourself to speak [and] participate as much as possible and don’t be shy about it,” Celano said.
Although for some people, talking or showing their video isn’t a viable option with their Internet connection, there are still more ways to keep up in their class. Another way to learn is to listen to Spanish music, TV shows or movies.
REV Spanish teacher Shara Loy said, “Más que oyen el idioma en contexto, más aprenderán. [The more they hear the language in context, the more they will learn.]”
Loy believes this is an easy method to become better accustomed to the language. These media bring an interesting dynamic to learning, and can often be more fun than studying for long periods of time.
One aspect of Spanish class a lot of people forget is that the teachers are there to help you, and are a lot more reliable than people assume. Every teacher wants the best for their students, as REV Spanish teacher Arlene Luna said, “…as teachers we understand how difficult this is because it has also been extremely difficult for us too.”
Many teachers have after school office hours in which they help students with any difficulties with the Spanish language. While they are not a requirement, office hours with teachers can be very beneficial.
During this pandemic, education remains as one of the most important aspects of our lives. As difficult as learning a new language without much interaction can be, there are lots of methods people can use to learn regardless of their situation. Whether it’s studying with flashcards and notes, singing along to Spanish music, talking or texting with their friends in Spanish or relying on teachers, there are many methods and resources for people to use if the need arises.
Celano said, “We all struggle when we try to learn a new skill, but with patience and perseverance, you will get better and better, so stick with it!”