I’m still attending my Japanese lessons every Saturday morning. On reflection, online language learning is one of the definite positives to emerge from my Lockdown 3.0 experience.
I don’t think I’ll ever go back to learning languages in a classroom. The online experience knocks it out of the park! No travel time, the comfort of my own home, access to tea and coffee, a small online group and great use of technology.
Technology makes the difference
For example, yesterday we had a (surprise) test of our hiragana learning and the teacher shared an online whiteboard for each of us to write on as we heard the characters read out. It was really tricky but also very engaging. Seeing everyone’s writing appear the screen was a lot more interesting that everyone scribbling in their own notebooks in a classroom.
We use Google Classroom to receive our homework, submit the completed exercises and receive feedback from the teacher. Additionally, there’s a reasonably good Moodle for course materials, which is updated every Friday – so we can download the various handouts well in advance and, if that’s your style, print them out.
Once the class ends, I review my notes in Apple Notes and the combine them with the various PDF handouts, type up the main learning points and then organise them in my favourite app of the moment, Craft.
This makes it really easy to review the notes from any of my Apple devices and repetition makes all the difference to learning. I’ve so far managed to live a paper-free existence when it comes to this course, which is great on a number of levels.
A weekend routine
But the other thing I adore about my Japanese course is the fact that it neatly delineates the weekend for me. And this is incredibly important when in a lockdown. I have a lovely rhythm and routine: Friday evening is downloading and reviewing the handouts, Saturday morning is for drinking enough coffee to wake up and then joining my class by 1030am.
This means there’s no way I can waste the morning in bed or simply spend it lying on the sofa. By the time I emerge from the study at 1pm, it’s time for some lunch and I really feel I’ve accomplished something.
And I think I have. My Japanese has really improved over the last five weeks and it makes me feel very enthusiastic about practicing it in real world situations once I’m back in Tokyo.