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AISWA Languages Teachers' Stories

  • Distance learning in Languages: Primary

    What worked well

    Learning menus or choice grids were very popular.

    Lessons presented as videos. One teacher creatively used Bitmoji and Video Puppet to create a teacher avatar and used Powerpoint to design the video.

    “So many engaged in the lessons last week and now that we’re back (face-to-face) we just picked up where we left off... It’s been really awesome” Japanese Teacher


    Keep the video sessions and online meeting short. 

    Keep it simple and try not to get too ambitious. Some schools decided not to teach any new content – just use the Covid-19 time for revision

    Very clear instructions. Use visual means to convey information.

    Link two or more platforms together by embedding codes.

    Some platforms also allow teachers to track student participation and self-mark, saving time and energy.

    Liaison with library staff to set up a library webpage with links to all target language-related resources for self-access during Covid-19 but also in the future.


    All teachers mentioned they were experiencing a steep learning curve around technologies. For those already very skilled in using ICTs, there was a lot of ‘app smashing’ going on. For all, it has been an enormous workload. Some teachers were also bound by whole-school decisions about how to deliver sessions eg all specialist teachers had to create films as lessons.

    Maree Whiteley, AISWA Humanities Consultant, who also attended the online meeting, reminded us to try and find connections and their world at the moment. Covid-19 provides an opportunity to explore the universal experience of being confined to our homes in the target language communities at home and abroad.

    Silver Linings

    “The feedback from parents (about lesson videos) was great. Apparently, they loved seeing my face, hearing my voice, seeing the puppets that they knew from class. I incorporated videos from YouTube, which they had seen in class, into my iMovie. The great thing was that I could add subtitles so for instance when I was teaching new word.” French Teacher


    The self-paced aspect of learning is common in secondary contexts but not so much in primary school. This changed during Covid-19. Distance learning allowed students to have more control of the texts presented to them and having the opportunity to start, stop, slow down audio/video recordings etc rather than relying on the teacher.

    There has also been free access to a lot of commercial resources during the Covid19 crisis. Some of these resources are for individual learners, some for families to learn together. Some teachers reported getting siblings to learn language together, more so than pre-Covid-19, and this was a positive experience.

    Finally, teachers felt that students are more likely to provide feedback via distance learning than in pen-to-paper form or in front of their peers in the classroom. This was due to the many of the features of ICT tools which heightened accountability, privacy and as a result, students provided more ‘honest’ feedback.