VIRTUAL EDUCATION FOR LANGUAGE TEACHING AND LEARNING
Ms., University of Blida2 (Ali Lounici), Algeria, email@example.com
The recent advances in technology are reshaping all dimensions of life including higher education. Together with unexpected eruption of the COVID-19 outbreak, many countries around the world needed an immediate shift towards virtual education with little time for preparation to this new experience. Regarding the field of foreign language in higher institutions, the trend toward virtual education has been developed to assist language learning and teaching through the implementation of new technologies and digital tools. The need for social distancing during the pandemic forced all educational institutions to switch from physical to virtual informal learning spaces and make use of purely online platforms. Videoconferencing software (Adobe connect, Zoom, Skype) have revolutionized language teaching and learning, changed student’s sense of distance and created a new venue for knowledge exchange. Thus, foreign language learners had to adapt to a new virtual learning environment characterized by extensive diversity, increased connectivity, and opportunities for language transfer. This pedagogical experience along with the flexible learning modalities offered by immersive communicative technologies are shaping interactional dynamics, transforming educational policies and creating new patterns of knowledge, thinking and skills. Thus, this paper attempts to invites educational authorities to take a pause and consider the potential to implement virtual education not only to overcome emergency situations but to meet the lifelong learning needs of diverse learners, living often long distances from educational institutions and in demand for more flexible learning environments. This is especially important as technology will continue to evolve and educators need to be prepared for a shifting paradigm for language education. In thinking about the complex nature of language learning in virtual spaces, it is critical to consider not only the features of this type of environment, but also the technologies available in support of virtual language learning and the pedagogical practices associated with their use. In response to this concern, the present paper provides a review related to the general contexts for virtual learning, online communication, and cultural dimensions as well as the role of new technologies in reconsidering institutional policies and professional knowledge of teachers. In the light of innovative educational philosophies and approaches to foreign language education, the paper also discusses the kind of training that should be available to teachers and students and pedagogical possibilities that the educational technologies can offers in support of virtual learning and teaching at every stage of the implementation process. As new technologies already altered pedagogy to meet the challenge of the 21st century, the paper suggested that integrated hybrid visual classroom will become a necessity in education which will better prepare the current learners for the 21st century world. For successful integration of this mode of education, it is also suggested that appropriate training and support must be placed to help both teachers and students develop new strategies in response to the new technologies for learning. The conclusion drawn from the discussion stresses that there is a basic need for societies to adopt a postmodern view in order to keep up with the global trends in virtual education. The complex issues that attend the new teaching and learning environment requires renewal of pedagogical knowledge of the teaching profession, creation of a productive and engaging virtual learning environment for the 21st century learners and preparation of the education system to the future.
Keywords: Virtual education, new technologies, foreign language, virtual learning environment, professional knowledge of teachers
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