7 Crucial Tips for Italian Online Teaching
Everything is becoming digital in this modern era, so the study is. Italian online teaching is not easy, especially when teaching an individual who does not know even the ABC of Italian.
It’s not a walk in the park; teachers and students face numerous challenges related to technology and pedagogy.
It is particularly true for modern language teachers who not only have to navigate the technology but also have to make themselves understood.
It can be challenging to attract students to language learning at the best times, so it’s important for teachers of subjects like Italian, French, Spanish, and German to make their online classes fun and engaging.
We spoke to Viviana, who ran an Italian online teaching platform, and heard about her experience and some of her advice.
“It was difficult on a personal level – as a teacher, I like face-to-face interaction, so not having that was a challenge,” she says.
“The other initial difficulty was managing screen time – eight hours on screen didn’t work for either students or teachers. There were multiple trials and errors.”
7 Crucial Tips for Italian Online Teaching
Here are some tactics you can utilise to overcome some of these difficulties and shift to online teaching as smooth as possible:
Ensure that you have the right equipment and technical setup
Good headgear is an essential investment when making the switch to online teaching. Clear pronunciation is an important part of language teaching.
So it’s crucial that students can hear you clearly and easily and that you can hear them too. A headgear with a microphone reduces background noise, making your voice clearer.
Another essential part of preparation is ensuring you are comfortable with the video conferencing technology you use.
Viviana benefited from an existing familiarity with Microsoft Teams and built on that knowledge as her school transitioned to online teaching.
However, most platforms offer online tutorials if you are starting from scratch in the digital world. Maximising your skills here will help you get the most out of your instructional technology.
Adapt your teaching style to online classes
There is no denying that video conferencing technology has fundamentally changed the process of online teaching. However, it’s still not a direct replacement for standing in front of the student.
Italian online teaching is way more different than teaching Italian physically, and you need to adapt your teaching style accordingly.
Magnify your body language a bit more to come across on screen and ensure you express yourself fully when you speak.
It may feel like overkill, but your students will understand it easily – especially if you’re communicating with them in a second language.
“I typically spend most of my class in the target language, utilising gestures to support what I’m saying,” says Viviana. “But that was difficult. I still use a lot of the target language that students are used to, but it’s more difficult than teaching in a real classroom.”
You must give more written instruction than you would in a classroom setting. It can be harder to spot the cues that a student has not understood the guidelines over video.
Make the most of free language learning apps.
Duolingo, Memrise, Hellotalk, Italian Private Tuitions and other disruptive language learning platforms can be viewed as an alternative to more traditional methods of learning and teaching a foreign language. Still, it is more effective to view them as a complement to your lessons.
Most of your older students will have smartphones if you are teaching Italian or any other language in secondary school.
Their students can use them to access apps and websites that provide a flexible method of learning outside of regular classroom activities.
However, you can use many platforms on a desktop computer or laptop.
Use technology to your advantage.
You are teaching in a new medium, so it’s an excellent opportunity for your students and you to get creative.
Consider videos or voice recordings for listening and speaking practice. You can utilise apps like Kahoot to create quizzes, which are more exciting for students than a traditional test.
And instead of setting up written homework, encourage your students to give fun presentations themselves. They may surprise you with how sophisticated their understanding of technology is!
Adapt your lesson plans to online teaching
In a conventional classroom, it is normal to assign students reading assignments or give them five quiet minutes to write a short text on their own.
But quiet time does not translate well to online instruction—it just creates opportunities for your students to distract themselves.
Consider utilising some classroom techniques, e.g. Assigning a grammar assignment for students to research before having class and using class time for discussion, study, and other activities.
Depending on the platform you use, students may still be able to work in groups – but try to limit the text amount they read on the screen and focus on more speaking activities like debates and role play.
“I had to rethink things like board games,” says Viviana, “and instead focus on speaking and group work, where they set up roleplay and even built-in sound effects—that worked well to evaluate speaking.”
Add cultural elements
Adding cultural knowledge to a language learning classroom gives your students relevance and context to the language they are learning. It shows them the benefits of learning this language and raises their awareness of future travel.
So what might that look like in practice? Well, there are many options! Students can use Google Maps or Earth to explore cities in the country where the language they want to learn is spoken.
They can also plan for a trip to Rome, for example, by researching cultural attractions, restaurants and museums to visit.
Encourage them to watch relevant films, documentaries, and TV shows in the target language. All of these activities will add a new dimension to Italian online teaching.
Focus on motivating your learners
As you improve your online teaching skills, it’s essential to remember that your focus should always be what engages your learners.
Talk to your colleagues about what works for them. Share successful tips and strategies.
“Some students struggling with the organisation have needed extra support,” says Viviana. “They are stuck at home, just like us, and it’s difficult for them too.
Younger students certainly need support, so it’s better to be aware of that and ensure that they stay on track.”
There are many resources to help you with Italian online teaching during the coronavirus era and advice on how to keep your students motivated during this major upheaval.
If you are looking for language resources, check out our Italian Private Tuitions and enrol with us to learn Italian language with our experts.