Online college English education in Wuhan against the COVID-19 pandemic: Student and teacher readiness, challenges and implications

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PLoS One. 2021 Oct 1;16(10):e0258137. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0258137. eCollection 2021.

ABSTRACT

Online education, including college English education, has been developing rapidly in the recent decade in China. Such aspects as e-readiness, benefits and challenges of online education were well-researched under normal situations, but fully online language teaching on a large-scale in emergencies may tell a different story. A survey of 2310 non-English-major college students and 149 English teachers from three types of twelve higher education institutions in Wuhan was conducted to evaluate their readiness for online English education during the COVID-19 pandemic, to figure out challenges encountered by them and to draw implications for future online college English education. Quantitative statistics gathered using two readiness scales adapted from previous studies showed that both cohorts were slightly below the ready level for the unexpected online transition of college English education. The overall level of readiness for students was 3.68 out of a score of 5, and that for teachers was 3.70. Individual differences were explored and reported. An analysis of qualitative results summarized six categories of challenges encountered by the students, i.e. technical challenges, challenges concerning learning process, learning environment, self-control, efficiency and effectiveness, and health concern. Though the students reported the highest level of readiness in technology access, they were most troubled by technical problems during online study. For teachers, among three types of challenges, they were most frustrated by pedagogical ones, especially students’ disengagement in online class. The survey brought insights for online college English education development. Institutions should take the initiative and continue promoting the development of online college English education, because a majority of the respondents reported their willingness and intention to continue learning/teaching English in online or blended courses in the post-pandemic period. They are supposed to remove technical barriers for teachers and students, and assess the readiness levels of both cohorts before launching English courses online. Institutions should also arrange proper training for instructors involved, especially about pedagogical issues. Language teachers are suggested to pay special attention to students’ engagement and communication in online courses.

PMID:34597337 | DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0258137