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Die Unterrichtspraxis ; 56(1):45-48, 2023.
Article in English | ProQuest Central | ID: covidwho-20240709


Princeton University, including the various language programs it offers, has intentionally resisted distance learning for decades, primarily out of a desire to concentrate on the residential undergraduate educational experience. In New Jersey, USA, state-level restrictions and institutional decisions resulted in the closure of campus instructional spaces from the halfway point of the 2020 spring semester through the end of the 2020-2021 academic year, with further precautions, mitigations, and flexible responses throughout the following academic year, including but not limited to frequent reversion to remote instruction during periods of high incidence, interior masking requirements, and social distancing when possible in classroom spaces. For the past six years, I have also redesigned, expanded, and aligned our second-year German program with the first year, which is based on a high-frequency core vocabulary and the development of contextual reading strategies, among other approaches (for a detailed description of approach, form, and function, see Oberlin, in press). Of the many tools and approaches considered during this frantic and bewildering week, one stands out: the application of outside-of-class student-to-student communication via Zoom or other video-conferencing technologies with written follow-up to fulfill a number of desiderata: (1) that students speak more in an alternate assignment format given the realities of affective and technological hurdles while using video conferencing software;(2) that they are provided with an unsupervised opportunity to speak in an effort to reduce anxiety;(3) that self-scheduled partner work might offer flexibility necessary during home-based study and the various complications and distractions that entails, particularly during a period of ongoing disruptions;and (4) that a written response to this oral communication would generate classroom discussion, deepen engagement with materials, and present instructors with another avenue for teacher-student feedback and the assessment of sentence- or paragraph-level writing.