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In the mean time, and after what felt like ages, our online meetings are beginning to be quite okay. My tolerance level for technical problems really degraded after five weeks, but in week six things looked a little brighter and I feel a little less overwhelmed, a little more confident and actually quite happy with some of our sessions.
I must thank my group members, who were so patient and helpful in making our online meetings worthwhile. I also feel that there are some advantages to meeting this way. People seem more attentive, more concentrated and focussed on listening. And listening is significantly important to the language learning/development process. Of course, I have no idea what those are doing who slip out of the picture as most progammes allow only a limited number of videos to appear on the screen. But in times like these it is important to trust.
When asked in class, most members of my groups say what they expect or wish most from their English meetings is the opportunity to speak. Of course speaking – flexing your vocal organs in the other language, practicing pronunciation, trying to express your thoughts, finding the right words and getting feedback – is important practice. But listening is essential to the learning process and comes first. Speaking is performing, using and trying out what you have learned, experiencing your limits, realizing gaps in your knowledge, (mostly vocabulary, collocations and idiomatic phrases) etc. Concentrated listening adds to your knowledge. (Including realizing where others don’t get the language quite right and talking about it.)
What I find a little disturbing at the moment are the discussions on gradually lifting the lockdown. But that will be the topic of my next post.