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The impact of COVID-19 on self-access support: The precarious transition to online language learning advising
Since the outbreak of Covid-19 in early 2020, Japanese higher education has had to come to terms with finding optimal online solutions for providing and continuing the education of university students. One of the facilities naturally caught up in this has been self-access learning centres (SALCs). With language learning advising being a key service such centres offer, it has been requisite for those working in them to make the transition from face-to-face to some kind of online distance support for students. Moreover, as non-teaching staff are said to be most vulnerable to position reductions given possible financial cuts arising from tuition fee cancellations or student enrolment reductions, there has been increased pressure to justify what they do as critical to the continuity of learning (UNESCO, 2020). These circumstances have indeed had a direct impact on how such self-access staff advise learners and inevitably changed the nature of their work. Consequently, this presentation reports on a qualitative exploratory study undertaken with one self-access manager at a Japanese university who was purposively selected to examine this issue. Semi-structured interviews and subsequent thematic analysis showed that making the transition to online language learning advising has been challenging for this individual with continuous pressure to demonstrate innovation and the necessity of his position.
Stuart D. Warrington, Ed.D., is a professor in the Department of English Studies at Nagoya University of Commerce and Business in Japan. He has over 20 years of experience teaching EFL to mostly university students. His main research interests lie in professionalism, professionalisation, and professional development in English language teaching, and self-access language learning and advising.