Many say that the learner’s L1 should not be used unless necessary, others say it should never be used, while there are those who use the L1 without really thinking that much about it. I would say that I am in the last category. I use English and Greek. The higher level the learner is, the less I use Greek, but with lower level learners I use Greek to give instructions, feedback, to explain grammar or concepts. I sometimes translate to show the difference between L1/l2. My students do end up speaking English well. They do become proficient and all is good in Joanna’s land. BUT what happens when you do not speak the learner’s L1 and the lesson is online?
You see, giving instructions during face to face lessons where you can point to things and show your learner, even take the learner by the hand and explain something, is easy. You can do it. If the lesson is online though, yes, you can use your camera, paraphrase, use the pointer (mouse), you can even draw, but you cannot do much if the learner still doesn’t get your instructions. Today I was trying to explain a writing tool in my virtual classroom, but my learner did not understand the word “type” and could not understand the term “press the button with the letter ‘T'”, so I got frustrated, my learner got frustrated. If I was in the classroom, I would have just pointed in the book or given an example and typed using these features.
I cannot do that when I teach online. The other thing I cannot do is speak French. I paraphrased, drew, paraphrased more, used the ‘T’ button myself, but nothing.
What did I end up doing? I asked someone to call the learner and explain some of the features and maybe even use French. So, everything is going to be OK, but I wish I could speak French cause in this case I wouldn’t have wasted valuable time explaining something that ended up not being explainable!
So, have any of you had sistuations where you wished you could speak the student’s L1? Let me know in the comments section below.
Till next time……