What works well
Keeping things simple.
Maintaining classroom discourse in the target language, regardless if it is online or face-to-face
Choice boards/homework grids: suggested activities for children and their parents
Using the time for consolidation and revision. Some schools instructed their teachers not to teach any new content.
Because early childhood learners need to be under the supervision of a qualified ECE educator, it was extremely difficult to organise online with the classroom teacher also being present. Language teachers in early childhood contexts were asked to create short videos with many saying they found a hidden talent as a Play School presenter!
“Online early childhood can work if parents are watching alongside the children and accessing the resources. It can be bonus… They can learn alongside their children. What a beautiful opportunity that parents are singing the songs with their kids in their houses” French Teacher
Parents are the linchpin to whether or not children engage in language learning at home. Unfortunately, specialist subjects such as Languages are often not deemed essential. One teacher said that only 2%-3% of her students engaged/responded. However, those that did, loved it!
“Parents were under a lot of pressure so not everyone was ready to watch the specialist videos that we created. They had to triage what to do first, and in many families, Languages was not on the top of the list. That was a bit crushing because so much work went into those videos and a lot of those students didn’t even have the chance to watch them.” French Teacher
Language teachers cited other challenges such as the simple fact that not all students had access to a device, often because they had to be shared with siblings. Teachers also struggle to find resources suitable for early learners. Those who were involved in the Early Learning Languages Australia (ELLA) program said that the app could not be accessed from home, however, the songs could be shared. There were many questions around assessment with one teacher commenting “we don’t know what it looks like yet” and everyone still waiting for school-based decisions around assessment and reporting.
One of the benefits to come out of the past 2 months is greater cross-curricular collaboration between staff at the same school. Language teachers also said they learned a lot and found many resources through networks such as language associations and Facebook groups.