Blended Language Classes — A New Frontier

A decade ago, the concept of a blended online class would have been unthinkable. Next year, however, St. Luke’s is hoping to offer a variety of blended classes for all Level I language classes, as well as for an Ethics of Global Citizenship class and Computer Science courses. To learn about these classes, the Sentinel sat down with Mr. Shee, who taught a French Level I blended class this year.

Farewell to the teacher-centered classroom.

Farewell to the teacher-centered classroom.

Sentinel: What is the format of a blended classroom?

Mr. Shee: Simply put, they are classes where some of the learning is done online and some is done in class. How much of the learning is done online will be up to the teachers teaching each one of the classes. Most likely, 50% of a class will be online and 50% will be in-class. The goal is that kids can take more languages, have extra free periods, and choose to work at whatever pace is comfortable for them.

Sentinel: Do you feel that there are different benefits to having a blended language class versus, say, a blended computer science class?

Mr. Shee: For languages, having online recordings and other components allows students to experience that comfort of speaking and practicing in one’s own home. There is also a certain comfort level in being able to work at your own pace. Furthermore, in a private setting, students are usually more willing to try new things, knowing that it’s just between you and your teacher. That relationship, itself, is pretty special, but through this relationship you also are able to get feedback and time to process the information. You can even take risks while recording at home that you may not be comfortable taking in a classroom setting.

Sentinel: In which subjects will there be blended classes next year?

Mr. Shee: Mainly, we hoping to have blended classes for all Level I language classes (French, Spanish, Latin, and Mandarin) for the Upper School, but I think there will be other non-language blended classes.

 Sentinel: What are the potential difficulties of having blended classrooms?

Mr. Shee: I don’t find the technical difficulties to be a big problem in my current French Level I blended class because I treat all the issues with flexibility. If a student has issues with an online activity, we try to work around it and I try to maintain an accommodating attitude. The other element to consider is that students in blended classes have to want it. They have to be able to motivate themselves and really care about the class in order to thrive because you don’t see the teacher every day.

 

Having taken a Level I French course, myself, this year I can attest to the quality and benefits of these classes. My class only meets three (occasionally four) times each eight-day rotation. This allows me time to complete a large part of my week’s homework over the weekend. During the week, I only need to review major concepts. Furthermore, the audio recording homework components have helped my speaking skills immensely and I have far more familiarity with the language than I would have had had the course been purely in-class. As Mr. Shee mentioned, if you are a motivated student, these classes can be incredibly fun!

— Khush Dhaliwal, Arts Editor

 

Posted by on February 25, 2014. Filed under School News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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