Current Trends in the Development of Language Education in the Context of the COVID-19 Pandemic

Posted: 14 Jan 2021

Date Written: January 10, 2021

Abstract

In the context of the coronavirus pandemic, the unexpected forced widespread transition to online education has outlined negative trends in the development of higher education. A number of objective technical, organizational and human factors, as well as the tight timing of the transition to online education, explain the unpreparedness of most universities to work online. In the development of language education in the context of the current pandemic, negative factors are associated with the loss of the communicative environment, unequal levels of intercultural sensitivity among the host country and foreign students, simplification and emasculation of the taught language. Among a number of reasons that hinder the study of a foreign language and the development of intercultural communication skills in the context of online learning, the main ones are the destruction of the university environment and the lack of personal communication. Distance learning does not allow students to plunge into the educational environment of the university, practice language skills, and get acquainted with the socio-cultural codes of the country of the studied language. The imperfection of computer technology reduces language learning to the technical performance of tasks and the mechanical development of lexical and grammatical skills, eliminating communication from the educational process. Communication through a computer screen prevents the creation of a “lively”, creative atmosphere that has a positive effect on students’ involvement and interest in the subject. Distance learning physically separates the participants in the educational process and contributes to the emergence of communication barriers.

The study of trends in the development of language education in the pandemic allows us to conclude that learning a foreign language without learning the culture of the country, insufficiently developed intercultural sensitivity and the loss of a lively communicative environment reduce the study of English to the study of neutral Global English. Varying results of the exams to determine the level of proficiency in a foreign language (IELTS, FCE, etc.), coupled with the requirements of universities for a certain score, got by applicants, lead to the transformation of the assessment system "passed / failed" to "passed for specific purposes."

The introduction of lockdowns limits the development of processes of internationalization and international cooperation of universities. Some countries and even universities within one state took longer to switch to online education due to lack of material support, insufficient qualifications of the teaching staff to work on online platforms, low living standards of the population and others, which negatively affected the quality of education and created the preconditions for increasing social inequality both between countries and within one region.

Keywords: Language education, intercultural communication, online education, authentic textbooks

JEL Classification: 123, 124

Suggested Citation

Kalugina, Tatiana, Current Trends in the Development of Language Education in the Context of the COVID-19 Pandemic (January 10, 2021). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3763477

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