The Challenges of Teaching Second Language Students at a Distance

Proceedings of The 4th International Conference on Modern Research in Education, Teaching and Learning

Year: 2022



The Challenges of Teaching Second Language Students at a Distance

Gregory R. MacKinnon and Tyler B. MacLean



Countries including Canada have entered into interesting partnerships with distant nations such as China to create “offshore schools”. In these schools, indigenous children learn traditional subjects in English such that they can write matriculating examinations set by Canadian departments of education. The obvious benefit is that these Chinese students will hold a Canadian diploma easing the application process for entry into North American universities and colleges. At the onset of the pandemic, many teachers with instructional posts in offshore schools returned home during the Chinese New Year break. These same teachers then experienced insurmountable difficulties getting back to China to continue their face to face instruction. Many of the offshore schools then asked these same teachers to continue teaching their students in China using the online environment. This request posed many challenges to the teachers considering their students’ first language was not English. This paper will describe mixed methods research intended to identify the challenges experienced by a cohort of teachers who found themselves in this uncomfortable situation. Categories of technology, lifestyle, pedagogy and support emerged from electronic surveys and follow-up interviews.

keywords: online learning, ESL, technology.