Thinking of taking Zoom, Google Meet, or Skype Spanish lessons? The pandemic has changed our lives significantly, and adjusting to the “new normal” impacts everything from your weekend plans to education. Online learning has become the go-to approach in learning, which is definitely an adjustment for those of us accustomed to classroom environments.
However, this shift shouldn’t impede you from achieving your language learning goals! It might seem daunting, but online learning and taking Zoom, Google Meet, or Skype Spanish lessons can be not only doable, but effective and fun! It’s important to think of online learning as a positive solution to the problems we cannot control, and a way to continue learning. It’s definitely a mentality shift away from being in a classroom, surrounded by peers and working in small groups. And might seem nothing at all like a classroom learning environment.
As someone who has taught and been a student in both traditional and online learning environments, I can honestly say that there is a learning curve transitioning to virtual classes. However, people are adept at adapting to new environments; we’ve been doing it since the beginning of time. It’s all about the mentality with which you approach your new online learning environment! There are a few key points to keep in mind that will help you make your Zoom, Google Meet, or Skype Spanish lessons just as successful:
1) It has its perks!
You can interact with native speakers and have access to a wide variety of Spanish instructors internationally. It might not be in person, but this new aspect can add richness and diversity to the experience, and make it feel especially authentic.
2) Don’t allow the screen to make you feel disconnected.
For those of us who have used FaceTime or Google Meet to keep in touch with loved ones in different places over the years, the same principle can apply to online learning. Just because you are not physically in a classroom with someone does not mean that you cannot form interpersonal connections and participate in a fun, engaging classroom dynamic!
3) Use your camera.
I know that it can feel weird to have the camera on and staring at you, and we all can agree that sometimes we don’t like looking at ourselves on camera, but it’s very important to staying engaged in a Zoom, Google Meet, Skype Spanish lessons, or other online learning environments. It might not seem very important at the beginning, but being able to not just see your instructor or fellow classmates, but also allowing them to see you, can be extremely important in creating a collaborative learning space.
4) Remind yourself that this is still your class.
Just because you’re not sitting at a desk and looking at a whiteboard, or because your instructor is not in the room with you, does not mean this is not a serious learning environment. Mentally connecting the online class with your learning objectives can help you to remain engaged. Instructors are very important in the learning process, but so is your mental engagement. We get from a class what we put in, so keep your thinking cap on and treat your class just as you would if you were in a physical classroom.
5) Designate an area of your home as your “classroom”.
Creating your own learning space and environment can help you to engage more in online learning. Whether you have a desk or a workspace at the table, make it consistent. Have a routine that you follow that helps you to connect and engage in your online class, whether it is on Google Meet, Zoom, or Skype.
6) Technology is your friend!
Get familiar with the platform you’re using, whether it’s Google Meets, Zoom, or Skype. These interfaces all have some aspects in common, and some proprietary elements. Understanding how to enter the class, mute, and unmute yourself, as well as access files and class materials will make your learning process easier. Invest in a decent headset. Many of our laptops and cameras allow for us to use their microphones, but a good headset will improve the audio quality, and, with the help of your camera, you will feel like your instructor or classmates are nearby. These may seem like small things, but they can go a long way to minimizing hiccups when you’re in class, so that you can focus on the learning.
7) Remind yourself of the perks that come with online learning at home.
We might miss classrooms and the camaraderie, but there are some perks in online learning that you will never have in a classroom. You have no commute time, and honestly, no need to dress up! As long as you don’t have a mad case of bedhead and you’re wearing a normal shirt, you’re ready for class! You can even make yourself a cup of tea or coffee to sip on during class, instead of packing snacks or buying drinks when you’re out.
There are many things about this year that no one anticipated happening, but why let that stop you from achieving your language learning goals? Technology is a positive solution and a key aspect that we all have during these difficult times to remain engaged and improve ourselves scholastically and personally.
I know that it can be daunting to try a language, even in a traditional classroom setting. But really, once you get used to seeing your instructor, classmates, and yourself on camera, online learning can become comfortable. And it’s a place in which you can still continue to achieve your goal of learning Spanish. And really, if you can do all this, and wear cozy slippers while doing so, why not?