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Using Zoom for Online Classes: Challenges & Opportunities
Although teaching in-person remains the most preferred format of instruction for most of the subjects, using Zoom application for online classes may offer extra advantages for demonstration, practice, and performance control in teaching different aspects of oral presentation and public speaking in a foreign language. This paper discusses the author's experience in teaching Advanced Oral Presentation (using Zoom application) to two groups of 4th year Japanese university students majoring in EFL, during the Coronavirus epidemics in 2020-2021 Fall semester. Phonetic exercises were used to correct pronunciation mistakes and practice English intonation. Students' live or video-recorded short speeches and PPT presentations were watched and analyzed in class. The results of the online instruction show that using Zoom application proves to be very effective in overcoming “stage fright” and mitigating pronunciation difficulties that Japanese students usually experience in developing oral presentation skills in English as a Foreign Language. Comments from the students show that they enjoyed the online instruction and think that it was very useful. For example, they wrote: “Zoom made me think and talk about the people behind the screen,” “The teacher's pronunciation class left a strong impression on me,” “I learned about the difference in pronunciation of the words like 'liver' and 'river', 'pray and play' for the first time,” “I could learn and grow in two respects in this class: I could learn correct pronunciation and I was willing to speak English,” “Previously, I had no confidence in speaking English in a public place. However, thanks to this class, I became confident in speaking English. The class made me mature.”