Online Language Learning in Japan: Emulating Face-to-Face Environments
The outbreak of the covid-19 has promoted a big digital shift approaches to language learning in tertiary settings. The recent rising trend of student-centered, more flexible and personalized learning experiences have also allowed instructors to reconsider effective online interactive language courses. While studies in Asian have demonstrated the high value of video conferencing tools in the improvement of communication skills in English (e.g., Ying, Siang, & Mohamad, 2021), research including students’ comprehensive feedback remains limited in Japan. In this poster presentation, the presenter will discuss ways in which teachers might emulate face-to-face environments in order to encourage students to fully engage in their online communicative activities. These suggestions are inspired by a study of the benefits and challenges of online interactive language learning completed by the presenter. Thirty-four Japanese undergraduate students enrolled in three English courses at a university in Japan participated in the study. The year-long courses were for students who had a lower-intermediate level of English proficiency and intended to develop their English verbal communication abilities. At the end of the courses, students’ feedback was collected and evaluated in combination with the instructors’ observations of their interactions and participation during class. The survey revealed increased enthusiasm toward online interactive activities even when compared to the in-class ones they had previously experienced. The activities students participated in included personal storytelling, collaborative verbal presentations, and discussion sessions utilizing a video conferencing tool and various online visual aids. The overwhelming majority of students in the study also demonstrated an increased propensity to apply online resources, such as YouTube, Instagram, Google Images and dictionaries, etc., toward the completion of their assigned tasks. The overall findings suggest that focus needs to be placed on developing innovative and captivating teaching approaches designed to meet different students’ motivations and learning preferences in online communicative language teaching environments.