This blog post provides additional suggestions for course continuity, tailored specifically for foreign language courses. We also suggest reviewing the general guidance for remote teaching provided in the Academic and Course Continuity guide, related to using course technologies and best practices for communicating with students, setting expectations, and more.

General Tips

A number of language learning activities can be conducted in a self-study capacity — activities such as online games, exercises that are auto-graded, and work that is completed independently of the instructor, allow students to work at their own pace, asynchronously, and when they are able. See the Online Resources section below for some existing resources that you may be able to use, rather than starting from scratch.

Even when language learning has been structured in a self-study capacity, accountability is still helpful to encourage/inspire students to complete work for your course. Deadlines, clear descriptions of expectations and assignment goals, structured work and defined pathways through content all help provide accountability within the online language learning experience. Consider compiling a list of existing online resources for students to utilize and provide a “recommended pathway” through materials (see below for resources)

If you have existing assignments that can easily be transferred to Canvas (such as written assignments, oral interviews, presentations, tests), consider using Canvas as a “home base” or guide of sorts through the content you set up, whether you are providing links to existing external online resources with a guided pathway through content, or whether you are creating/uploading your own learning materials directly to Canvas. In either case, create a clear set of deadlines for completed work so that students have a solid understanding of how to proceed through your class.

Some assignments and coursework are more difficult to transfer to Canvas without significant alterations (such as live, synchronous class discussions or debates). In the latter case, consider revising or altering those assignments. If not possible, consider using Zoom for small group or whole class synchronous video chat (taking into account student time zones and access to the Internet).

For conversation courses or activities that require real-time interaction, Zoom offers a real-time video conference option. Zoom supports both whole-class and small-group conversation; the breakout room feature allows you to put students in small groups, and you as instructor can drop into the groups. We ask faculty to consider using this option sparingly if possible, given the challenges of coordinating across time zones, and possible issues with student Internet connectivity.

If you show videos in your physical classes, please submit a request to go/streamingrequest to have them converted into an online format.

Assignments and their Canvas Versions

Assignment Type Canvas Version
Oral presentation Discussion Board in which each student posts a self-recorded video of their presentation
Essay Assignment in which students upload a doc or link to a Google doc that the instructor can access and use to give feedback
Closed Grammar Exercises Quiz that is auto-graded (multiple choice, fill-in-the-blank, true and false, matching, etc)
Peer Feedback Discussion Board in which peers are assigned to give feedback via the comments. Consider using the RISE rubric to structure peer feedback.
Group Presentation Students record a Zoom conversation and upload it to a Discussion Board. Note: this works best when students are in the same or similar time zones.
Gallery-style Sharing of Work Discussion Board in which each student posts work OR Canvas Page that is editable by students and teachers on which students paste a link to their work outside of Canvas
Class Discussion Zoom link provided in Canvas that students can access to join a planned discussion lead by the teacher. Note: this works best when students are in the same or similar time zones.
Journal Students create a Google doc and share the link with the teacher, who then creates a Canvas Page with a list of student names hyperlinked to individual docs.

The teacher can assign journal entries by adding prompts as Assignments with due-dates if needed.

Online Resources

  • French Grammar Games (Interactive games designed for beginner to intermediate students)
  • School in Morocco (Conversation practice in Darija for advanced students of Modern Standard Arabic)
  • School in India (Hindi alphabet and pronunciation work for total beginners)
  • Portuguese at Middlebury (Introductory Portuguese lexical sets for beginners but fun for learners of all levels -also featuring Amy Collier’s voice!)
  • School in Italy (Introductory Italian exercises designed for beginners but fun for learners of all levels)
  • School of Korean (Extensive online beginning Korean language lessons for novice-level learners)
  • School of Russian (A series of “survival” Russian language-learning exercises for novice-level learners)
  • School in Germany (Cultural exercises and idioms for high-level learners)
  • Language Teaching for Social Justice (Course site for pre-service language teachers with student-generated and instructor-generated trainings, readings, resources and lesson plans)
  • Russian for Heritage Learners (Focus on reading, writing, grammar, register designed for heritage learners with high oral proficiency and low written proficiency in Russian)