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Perspectives of Online Learning at a Saturday Chinese School in America
Saturday language schools in America play an important role in supporting language education and community cultural diversity. While most Saturday language schools were previously face-to-face classes, the Covid-19 pandemic has been an obstacle to traditional learning and teaching. Taking safety into consideration, many schools have moved their activities online. This study was designed to hear different voices from students, teachers, and parents on online language learning from a Saturday Chinese school in New York state. This was a mixed-method study. An online survey was distributed by the school principal to the whole Chinese school community, including students, parents, and teachers. The survey asked participants to evaluate the online learning experiences and learning outcomes. Based on the survey answers, 4 students, 2 parents, and 1 teacher volunteered for the follow-up interview. Grounded theory was used to analyze the collected data. Results found that the language proficiency of students improved to some degree over the semester of online learning, but students preferred to have classes in a traditional classroom setting, where they could interact with classmates and teachers more. Teachers and parents agreed that they should have classes virtually during the pandemic, but they suggested the Saturday school arrange workshops to prepare teachers, students, and parents for virtual classes. Some participants explained that they dropped Saturday Chinese school because there were fewer program activities than before, such as student competitions and festival celebrations. This feedback indicates that this Saturday school efficaciously promoted Chinese culture in the Rochester area before the pandemic, which helped to attract students to study with them. All in all, this study attempts to offer suggestions to Saturday language schools in America, and to enlarge the database of studies on online language learning.