In line with the technological advancement during the last few decades, virtual learning has been addressed more widely, which affected English language teaching and learning as well. Since Covid 19 pandemic, which has resulted in the long-lasting closure of educational settings worldwide, virtual learning as the alternative of traditional education has been developed unprecedentedly. An option for virtual learning specifically for language teaching is teaching on the phone which has been mostly neglected in educational research. The aim of this study was to analyse the lived experience of 16 adult English language learners who experienced learning English through one-to-one, audio call sessions. Due to the pandemic, semi-structured interviews were conducted on the phone, which were recorded, transcribed and thematically analysed with a phenomenological approach. Many times revisions of the statements driven from the transcriptions resulted in six themes namely: a) learning on-the-phone as a new, satisfying experience, b) advantages, and c) disadvantages of one-to-one audio sessions, d) the participants’ preferences, e) the requisites of on-the-phone-learning, and f) the expectations of on-the-phone teacher, According to the result of this study, some educational recommendations for improving on-the-phone teaching are: covering four language skills through developing individualised lesson plans based on each learner’s needs and English language proficiency level; holding group video sessions along with one-to-one audio sessions; and using the facilities of messengers like WhatsApp to send audio, video and textual files to learners based on their needs and learning objectives.
Emergence Distance Education (EDE) role in the Learning of English Language Skills during COVID-19 Pandemic
During the COVID-19 pandemic, faculty members and students had to leave their face-to-face (FTF) classes and move into emergency distance education (EDE) contexts. Due to this drastic change in the system of education, investigating the probable effects of EDE on the quality of education seems essential. As such, this study has attempted to probe the effect of EDE on the language skills of Iranian EFL students. To do so, drawing on the maximum variation sampling, the present study embarked on a qualitative descriptive research method, triangulating data through written open-ended questionnaires and semi-structured interviews to collect data from 170 EFL students from different universities in Iran. The sample included BA students majoring in Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) and English Literature, aged above 18. Using Thematic Analysis (TA), students’ responses were transcribed, codified, and interpreted. The findings of TA revealed that along with several disadvantages and challenges that Iranian EFL students experienced in EDE with regard to learning English language skills, EDE provided some opportunities and benefits for their learning. The analysis of students’ responses also indicated that they deemed speaking skill as the most negatively influenced language skill and listening skill as the most positively affected skill. Furthermore, the findings represented that most of the students held teachers and administrators responsible for the problems and challenges they experienced in EDE contexts. The findings of the present study can encourage administrators, teachers, and students to prepare themselves for EDE against the possible subsequent waves.
The Impacts of COVID-19 Pandemic on English Language Teacher Education in Iran: Challenges and Opportunities
The global pandemic of COVID-19 has brought about many changes and challenges in our lives, interactions, relationships, and modes of learning and teaching and helped us learn how to adapt ourselves to unanticipated conditions to survive. It stimulated universities, schools, and institutions of higher education to rethink and restructure their policies to find solutions to the problems as well as researchers all around the world to help educational systems get out of the mess. This study aimed to contribute to the body of literature and investigated the impacts of COVID-19 on English language teacher education. Convenience sampling was employed to recruit thirty student teachers as the participants of the study. To do the study, the author used semi-structured interviews, focus group interviews (n = 20), student teachers' reflective journals (n = 10), and his own reflective journals to collect the data. Grounded theory was used for data analysis. The findings of the study revealed that there was a shift from anomaly to congruity, student teachers saw the pandemic as an opportunity, they felt the need for technology inclusion, development, and promotion in their educational contexts, there was an urgent need to train teachers and learners to use technology in their contexts to keep the education running, and teachers had to reconstruct their identities and turn to formative assessment. The findings can contribute to the body of literature and prompt English language teacher education programs, teacher educators, administrators, teachers, and policymakers to consider the findings while they are designing, upgrading, reforming, and running their syllabi, curriculums, and programs.
The Impact of Learning through Management System vs. Learning through Experience Platform on Exam Results of Digital Natives and Digital Immigrants
The upheaval time of COVID-19 highlighted the importance of an effective way of teaching English to the front-line healthcare workers such as medical doctors and researchers with different digital-divide status, particularly in non-English-speaking countries because they were first-hand users of critical pandemic-related information in mostly-English articles published online by scientific journals. This study attempted to investigate the pedagogical effects of utilizing the two main User-Generated Content (UGC) platforms in E-learning, namely LMS vs. LXP, on the results of the Electronic Ministry of Health Language Examinations (E-MHLE) among Iranian English for Medical Purposes (EMP) learners across their digital-divide status (digital natives vs. digital immigrants) during the COVID-19 pandemic. A series of focus-group E-interviews were conducted to determine the reasons behind the lowest scores among the participants and to find out possible suggestions for success in high-stake E-tests. To this end, 272 EMP learners who were users of LMS and LXP were conveniently selected from a university of medical science to participate in this sequential explanatory mixed-method research. The results of descriptive and inferential statistics showed that the LXP group outperformed the LMS one in the results of E-MHLE. Moreover, the digital natives obtained higher scores than the digital immigrants in both groups but the difference was not significant in the LXP. The findings of the E-interviews were thematically analyzed and discussed. The findings of this study might offer practical and realistic benefits to the whole EMP community, particularly policymakers for the post-COVID-19 era.
Having witnessed the unprecedented prevalence of online education during the COVID-19 pandemic worldwide, the present research was motivated to explore the challenges facing an EFL teacher throughout an online English course of intermediate level. To this aim, a process-tracing approach (Checkel, 2006) was employed to unravel the causal mechanisms involved in the beginning, middle, and end of the course. The results showed that deficient technological resources caused the greatest challenges throughout the course, especially in the initial and mid-sessions. Also, the two other causal categories, human and content resources, were at their peak at the beginning of the course and were no longer noticeable at the end of the course. The most troublesome challenges the teacher faced were platform limitations, internet connection, and human resources’ unpreparedness for online education. Furthermore, the teacher’s and most students’ technological knowledge, as well as their media literacy, increased by the end of the course, but some students’ rather slow adaptation to the sudden online environment challenged the teacher during the course. Finally, suggestions were made to prevent these challenges or handle them effectively upon occurrence, especially in developing countries, where the required infrastructure for online education is lacking, and the majority of teachers, students, and institutions might not be yet adequately prepared for the online mode of teaching and learning languages.
An Online Portfolio Assessment and Perception Study of Iranian High School Students’ English Writing Performance during the COVID-19 Pandemic
With the abrupt emergence and dissemination of the COVID-19 pandemic, the traditional face-to-face classes were replaced by online classes in Iran. This quick shift has put great demands on finding and practicing new methods to teach and learn English in high schools. Owing to this urgent call, the present study follows a two-fold purpose. Firstly, it purports to disclose the effects of online portfolio assessment (PA) on developing Iranian high school students’ English writing skills. Secondly, it aims to excavate the Iranian high school students’ perceptions about the merits of online PA in cultivating their writing skills. To meet the aims, an intact second-grade class, including female students (n = 25), was chosen in Shahed public high school in Borujerd City. The class received online instruction (sixteen sessions lasting 90 minutes) based on the tenets of PA (e.g., collection, selection, and reflection). Then, a focus group interview was conducted with five of the active participants. Findings evidenced a significant improvement in the participants’ writing skills owing to the instruction. Additionally, the results of the focus group interview yielded some themes about the benefits of PA as perceived by Iranian high school students: ‘developing students’ autonomy’; ‘fostering a sense of belonging to classroom community’; ‘providing a comprehensive analysis of students’ writing proficiency’; ‘collecting empirical evidence on students’ gradual improvement in writing’; ‘training self-regulated students’; and ‘making classes student-centered by teachers-as-advisors’. Finally, a range of implications is presented to various stakeholders.