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BlogWhat to Expect from Your First Online Language Class (and How to Make the Most of it!)

What to Expect from Your First Online Language Class (and How to Make the Most of it!)

Written by E-QIP on May 7, 2020

As popular as language learning has been for the locked down among us over the last year, many people are discovering something that veteran language learners have known all along: that no matter how effective your language app or software is, actual fluency isn’t possible without a little human interaction.

There’s an undeniable thrill that comes from seeing yourself fly through the levels on Duolingo (and we’re speaking from experience on that one!) but—and we can’t overstate this enough—that thrill pales in comparison to the absolute joy you feel after your first actual conversation with a native speaker, which happens a lot sooner than you’d imagine in the right language class. Realizing 10 minutes into an online language class that you’ve been having a full-on chat in your target language is one of the best feelings in the world of language learning.

Luckily, even with some physical distancing measures still in place, human interaction is as easy as ever to find: all you need is an internet connection and a device that supports video to access live online language classes that are as effective as any in-person lesson could ever hope to be.

What to Expect from Your First Online Language Class

Online language classes have been a cornerstone of the services that E-QIP offers for several years. We currently use Google Meet for our online classes, which allows our instructors to host many people at once and easily split students into breakout rooms to foster deeper conversation.

At E-QIP, our online classes follow the same teaching model as our in-person classes. There’s a focus on conversation and fluency, and grammar rules are presented in the context of the discussions our teachers have with their students.

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For some students and classes, we might suggest grammar workbooks in order to facilitate practice. Our teachers may assign pages from these workbooks for students to fill out on their own time, and then practice or reinforce the rules from the books during classes. We're not about “studying”; these workbook lessons simply allow students and teachers to identify areas that students are repeatedly failing to grasp, and which they can further explore together as a team.

If you’ve already taken the plunge and signed up for a group or one-on-one video class, you may be wondering how best to prepare for a class for which there is no classroom and your teacher is simply a moving image on a screen. While there’s no one right way to approach online learning, there are a few tips and tricks that we think put students in a position to get the most out of video classes:

Take notes

A good language teacher—whether online or in a classroom—will prioritize conversation over lecturing, but it’s still a great idea to take notes throughout the lesson. That doesn’t mean you should try to transcribe everything your teacher says, but it’s helpful to jot down new vocab you come across or grammar rules you think you might forget so that you can later review them.

Ask questions

This is your time; if you’re not getting as much out of it as you possibly can, then it’s not working! That means asking questions if you don’t understand something, or even when you simply want more information about a concept. This can be easier to forget in an online setting; if that happens, write your questions down so you can ask them in the next class.

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Fill out any assigned workbook pages before class

This is true of any class, but it’s especially true for online classes (where your teacher will likely refer to questions by page and question numbers; it’s not as easy to just point at a question over video). By exploring or reviewing grammar on your own time, you’ll allow yourself the opportunity to ask your teacher questions about any answers that confuse you while the topic is still fresh in your mind.

Keep a journal

Use the notebook you’re writing your class notes down in to keep a short weekly journal. Write about your week and practice discussing topics or using grammar that might come up in class, and then ask your teacher during your next class to help you with any sentences you couldn’t figure out (in a group class, this will likely benefit your classmates just as much as it benefits you!). Some teachers may even ask their students to prepare specific topics to discuss ahead of time (and it’s not cheating to write it down!).

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