View Content #26062

Content Type3
TitleProfessional Learning Opportunities for Online Language Educators

Julio C Rodriguez is the Director of Hawai‘i National Foreign Language Resource Center, and Ruslan Suvorov is the Associate Director.

Online language learning and instruction are becoming an integral part of world language learning and teaching. Availability, practicality, convenience, affordability, and learner preference are among the main factors that contribute to this trend. In the specific context of world language education, sometimes learning a language online is the only viable option in K-16 settings. Sometimes learning a particular less-commonly taught language is only possible online. Regardless of our perceptions about online language learning and teaching, the fact is that the number of distance learning courses and enrollments in online programs continues to grow exponentially (Babson Survey Research Group, 2016), while opportunities for professional learning tailored to the needs of online language teachers still remain scarce.

Through our work with online world language educators, we find that the professional learning needs of online language teaching professionals often fall into three broad categories: learning how to overlay sound (oftentimes known) pedagogical and teaching practices onto the online mode of instruction, finding technology tools that effectively enable and support such practices, and maintaining or improving their own target language proficiency. Online learning offers opportunities to meet all three needs.

If you are new to online language teaching or are interested in learning more about it, we recommend to start by viewing this TedEd Lesson and then consider continuing with the full series of lessons here. Keep in mind that the transition to online teaching and learning can start with small steps toward technology-enhanced learning and teaching and gradually reach the full online mode. If your teaching context is post-secondary education, it may be possible to pace yourself by creating an online lesson and pilot it in a face-to-face course first; then develop and teach a hybrid course before embarking on teaching fully online.

In the following section, we present a few key actionable tips for online language educators to enrich their practice. 

  1. Join a community of practice that offers support to online language instructors, such as ACTFL’s Distance Learning Special Interest Group, the Computer-Assisted Language Instruction Consortium (CALICO), or the International Association for Language Learning Technology (IALLT).
  2. Familiarize yourself with best practices and guidelines for developing online courses (e.g., Quality Guidelines for Online Courses from the the University of HawaiĘ»i’s Center for Language & Technology, ADFL’s best practices and resources for hybrid and online language courses).
  3. Explore existing resources for online language educators (e.g., the CLT’s Online Learning Design Studio, Online Teaching Tools and Resources from Yale Center for Language Study).
  4. Put yourself in your students’ shoes: By the time we reach college, most of us have accrued over 12 years of continuous exposure to learning in traditional brick-and-mortar settings. How does that compare to our experience learning online? Regardless of whether you are a new or a seasoned online language educator, taking an online language course will help you not only better understand the online learner’s perspective but also reflect on your own practice. Free online courses can be found on OpenCulture, Coursera, Canvas Network, EdX, and similar platforms.
  5. Enable reflective practice by sharing knowledge and concerns with a partner teacher or by participating in the ACTFL Mentoring Program for Online Language Teachers (free for ACTFL members). Under the guidance of an experienced mentor, explore lessons specifically designed to support the professional learning needs of online world language educators.

Today's Activity of the Week helps you to build a customized professional learning plan.


Babson Survey Research Group. (2016). Online report card: Tracking online education in the United States. Retrieved from

SourceCASLS Topic of the Week
Inputdate2018-11-22 10:15:46
Lastmodifieddate2018-11-26 04:16:35
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Publishdate2018-11-26 02:15:06
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