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language immersion

Study abroad... virtually!

Study Abroad Trips Cancelled

For high school students studying a foreign language, the highlight of the year is often the study abroad trip to a country where that language is spoken.  It's very unfortunate that nearly all these trips were cancelled because of coronavirus, and will certainly not resume until 2021. 

So what can replace these study abroad trips? 

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problem with foreign language teaching in K12

Problem with foreign language teaching in K12

The odds are stacked against the teacher. The kids enter the classroom speaking all day in their native language and, no matter how hard the teacher tries, it's impossible to switch that off. Students also don't understand why they need to learn something they are never planning to use in their daily life. On top of it, English is much easier to learn compared to other languages that have conjugations. So, by the time an average US student wraps his mind around what conjugations really are, they are edging towards the tail end of the second year. In the end the one-to-many #classroom setting is not an effective way to learn a #foreign_language.

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Foreign language teachers should stay in the target language 90% of class time

Teaching in the target language 90% of the time!

When a foreign language teacher tries to stay in the target language 90% of the class time, students become immersed in the target language. Although this is difficult to achieve, and although the native language will be required in certain cases, this immersion is a necessary part of teaching a foreign language, as confirmed by this TELC article. The real problem arises when the students are not exposed to the target language 90% of the time - the learning gains then become minimal. Moreover, students can simply tune out the teacher or their fellow students when they are not actively engaged.

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