Teaching Languages Online


Teaching a language online comes with some specific challenges.  Here are some thoughts from a number of authors.

Hampel & Stickler (2005): language teachers in an online teaching situation need different skills than those they use in the face-to-face classroom and also compared to skills needed in other content areas.

Compton (2009): "despite a multitude of research-based publications and best practices relating to computer assisted language learning (CALL), including online language learning, there is a dearth of resources on how to prepare teachers for online language teaching and the skills needed for this new teaching environment" (p. 74).

Lowes (2008): second languages are described as one of the "particularly difficult subjects to adapt to the online environment and so require a lot of rethinking" (What Changed section).

Blake (2008): many language teachers "harbor deep-seated doubts as to whether a hybrid course, much less a completely virtual learning experience, could ever provide [second language] learners with an accepted way to gain linguistic proficiency, especially when oral language skills are in question" (p. 102).

Sánchez-Serrano (2008): "one of the greatest challenges is presented by courses that are skill based, such as foreign language courses" where "the oral component presents an array of complex issues" (p. 153).

Hampel and Stickler (2005): "the asynchronicity of communication in written conferencing and the lack of non-verbal clues in audio-conferencing are examples of new challenges for online language tutors" (p. 312).

Abras and Sunshine (2008): online language teachers would need to understand how to provide "opportunity for conversation, practice, input, and negotiation of meaning among learners," which is much more easily accomplished in a traditional classroom (p. 189).


Please take a look at the collected bibliography for more articles and books about teaching a language online and teaching online in general. There are also guidelines for best practices and practical ideas in the bibliography.




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