Since December 2020, our integration courses have been online. In this article, we tell you about the participants’ and teachers’ experiences with online learning.
In Silvia Hepach’s integration course, participants learn the comparative today. This includes regular forms like schön – schöner (beautiful – more beautiful) and groß – größer (big – bigger). But the participants also have to memorize exceptions like gern – lieber (gladly – rather). To introduce the new grammar theme, Silvia has prepared slides with the rules and examples. After the explanation, the participants practice first in plenary and then in pairs in zoom breakout rooms. I want to know more about the participants’ experiences in the online lessons. To do so I talk to Guillermo and Thibaud. “Online classes are good, but face-to-face classes are better,” says Thibaud, immediately applying the newly learned comparative. What he misses most, he says, is the social interaction and sharing of ideas with other learners. When their class switched to online lessons, the participants had known each other for just two weeks.
But online classes also have one advantage: “It’s more convenient because I can sleep longer,” Guillermo says with a laugh. For Silvia, the trainer, teaching is intense, but also very diverse. ” Once you have routine in using different tools, you can smoothly use different media.” Rituals such as the daily homework check at the beginning of class are important to structure the course, she says. Michael Ehrlich, who teaches our afternoon class, also starts his lessons with that. He has been teaching the course, which started in an online format, for two weeks. “The partner work in the breakout rooms goes well. It’s more difficult with the writing exercises, because you can’t look over the learners’ shoulders and give them tips during the writing process.”
Online lessons are not meant to be inferior to traditional lessons. To this end, Wisamar regularly invites trainees to observe and experience to teach their own lessons. Josephine Wabra, for example, has been accompanying a course for several weeks. “For me, this was also a special experience. After class, I always talked on the phone with my trainee supervisor Mareike Betz.” In this way, the two kept exchanging ideas and reflecting on the lessons. “Josephine was also a great support for the weaker learners in the breakout rooms,” says course trainer Mareike Betz. The learners who had little knowledge of digital media were the ones who had the most problems, she said.
For participant Suhela, the online lessons are difficult for another reason: in addition to the German course, she looks after her 4 children, aged 3 to 13. “Today at 2 p.m. Mrs. Merkel will speak” – Suhela hopes that at least her children will soon be able to go back to school. So she can be able to participate better in the lessons, Wisamar Bildungsgesellschaft has lent Suhela a tablet. For another course participant, on the other hand, the online lessons are a real lucky coincidence: Stefany, who joins the lessons from Peru. She wants to move to Germany this year and is delighted to be able to start learning German now. To do so, she has to get up early: in Lima, it’s 7:30 a.m. when classes start.