Caring for Students During Covid – My Five Top Tips! (by April Passi)

Many language teachers have been struggling to transfer communicative and interactive language classes to rigid online realities, with varying degrees of success, myself included. Teaching to 30 black squares on Zoom with the occasional thumbs-up emoji or a few students who do have cameras on does not really seem like the ideal environment for learning a language, let alone anything else. Back in March, I wrote a post about why in-person learning is so important, and while I have come to see that teaching online certainly has some benefits for both students and teachers, I am still staunchly “for” a return to in-person learning as soon as it is safe to do so. Now more than ever, I understand the importance of the classroom as a social space where students and teachers connect and create a sense of belonging. I teach college level students on a semester basis, so the relationships I build with my students are of a short duration, but they are important to me nonetheless – and, I believe, to my students. These days, as I peer curiously into the little black Zoom squares, I have a growing concern about the emotional and mental states of the kids behind the cameras.

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Language in the Times of COVID-19: To Unite or to Divide (by Dr Sunny Man Chu Lau)

Language has always been a site of political struggle. All people regardless of their race, religion, age or gender are now being affected by COVID-19.  However, to deal with the unprecedented global emergencies, different governments and community groups are using language to achieve varied political ends. While in some situations language is employed as a positive tool to democratically reach all people to inform and protect, in others it is weaponized for socially exclusionary purposes.

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Crise, opportunité et le monde qui me tombe sur la tête, ou la relativité linguistique redécouverte (by Florence Sedaminou Muratet)

Guernica, Pablo Picasso, 1937

« Si différentes langues influencent notre esprit de différentes manières, ce n’est pas à cause de ce que notre langue nous permet de penser, mais plutôt à cause de ce à quoi elle nous oblige à penser habituellement. »

Guy Deutscher, linguiste, 2016

Le monde traverse actuellement une période difficile depuis la propagation du Covid-19. Le martèlement incessant des annonces médiatiques relatant le nombre de cas avérés et le nombre de décès, ainsi que l’impact des règles de distanciation sociale sur l’économie mondiale, occasionne chez les gens de l’angoisse, de l’incertitude et de l’insécurité. Nous faisons face à une crise sanitaire qui va indéniablement marquer les esprits. C’est dans ce climat anxiogène, qui nous pousse au bord du gouffre et nous impose la résilience, qu’a émergé mon questionnement sur le ” relativisme linguistique ” (Whorf, 1956). J’ai fait une découverte sémantique sur la manière dont les langues que je parle agissent sur la perception que j’ai de la crise du coronavirus et donc sur mon moral. 

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In Defense of the Physical Classroom (by April Passi)

Several months ago, I had thought about writing a post in defense of the physical classroom. It seems that right now is the perfect time to write this post. We are all practicing social-distancing and many governments have closed schools. As administrators, teachers, and students grapple with moving their classrooms to the virtual realm, we might like to reflect on how this (temporary?) relocation will change our perspectives on what a classroom really is. 

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Language: The Gift that Keeps on Giving (by Shelina Adatia)

Shelina Adatia is a PhD candidate in Societies, Cultures and Languages at the University of Ottawa’s Faculty of Education. Her doctoral research focuses on the inclusion of culturally and linguistically diverse learners (i.e., learners whose first language is not English or French) in French Immersion. She is a recipient of the Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Doctoral Scholarship, awarded through the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), and a 2019 SSHRC Storytellers finalist and winner of the Storytellers Engagement Prize. Her Storytellers video can be viewed here. Shelina is also a certified teacher at the Intermediate/Senior levels with the Ontario College of Teachers. Prior to commencing her graduate studies, she taught French as a Second Language classes at the secondary level.

’Tis the season, friends…for hand washing, social distancing and all-around coronavirus chronicling. The chaos of COVID-19, the global pandemic of our time, is upon us. While academics near and far transition to online teaching, and in some cases, extended break parenting, gift-giving is likely not top of mind. Recently, however, I discovered the gift of all gifts. A gift I’ve always had without fully appreciating its worth. Spoiler alert, friends – it’s not toilet paper! The gift I am referring to is none other than language – the gift that keeps on giving.

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