Online Language Learning and Social Justice

Early studies of the use of videoconferencing in language classrooms may have discouraged instructors and scholars from exploring its potential as a means of lifting language learning from the assimilationist and marketplace paradigms. Early focus on limited visual feedback, transmission delays and lack of shared workspace (Zähner, Fauverge and Wong, 2000), kept the discourse rooted in technological limitations, and left issues of social justice unexplored. Read More About: F95 Zone

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In recent years, many of these and other earlier challenges have been addressed (at least in part) through more sophisticated virtual learning environments such as those in Elluminate and Adobe Connect. Improvements, such as the ability to ‘raise one’s hand’ by clicking on an icon, provide the instructor and other students with a visual indication of who is in line to speak. The chat feature can serve as a means of providing simultaneous feedback while a classmate is speaking.

Emoticon buttons such as a happy face, applauding hands or a thumbs-up also work well for simultaneously communicating with the speaker in the absence of body language and verbal cues. Whiteboards, note-taking pods and polls allow for collaboration within the whole class or in smaller break-out rooms.

A skilled language instructor can easily establish a learning community which replicates many of the key dynamics that exist in a face-to-face classroom.

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Knowledge is constructed and communicated via whiteboards, break out rooms, file sharing and even desktop sharing. Indeed the online virtual classroom has all the advantages of a traditional classroom as well as many more that are unique to this medium.


Thus there is little if anything to discourage teachers, linguists, educational researchers and policy makers from accessing the synchronous virtual language classroom to prevent globalization from diverting our attention away from language shift and loss

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