The number of people using the internet has surged over the past three years, with more than one million new users every day. That’s equivalent to 59% of the global population actively connected to the world wide web. What it is even more impressive is that youth ages 15-24 is the most connected group.
Children and adolescents under 18 account for an estimated one in three internet users around the world. Let’s be honest, that represents 71% of the youth of this planet connected to the internet, accessing information at increasingly younger ages.
As the influence of digital technology has increased, the debate about its impact has grown louder. On one hand, many consider being connected to the internet as a boon to humankind, offering unlimited opportunity for communication and commerce, learning, and free expression. On the other hand, there are many people who think of the internet as a threat to our way
of life, undermining social interaction, political order, and threatening our well-being.
This has become an interesting but essentially complicated debate. Because for better and for worse, digital technology is a fact of our lives. Irreversibly. Always present and undeniable.
The relevance of seeing the glass half full
Digital technology has already changed the world, and as more and more children go online around the world, it is increasingly changing childhood as well. And that’s fine as long as we, parents and educators, are prepared to go along for the ride.
We don’t do anything by denying the reality that we face at home and schools around the world. We need to protect our children from the worst digital technology has to offer while still expanding their access to the best resources and information, so we can tip the balance for the better. Let’s not forget that our voices matter ever more in a digital world. A world we are not only inheriting, but helping to shape.
How to benefit from the “Light side” of Technology
If leveraged in the right way and made universally accessible, digital technology can be a game changer for children being left behind. Whether because of poverty, race, ethnicity, gender, disability, displacement or geographic isolation, our responsibility to connect them to a world of opportunity and to provide them with the skills they need to succeed in a digital world is more than ever imperative.
As children grow, the capacity of digitalization to shape their life experiences grows with them, offering seemingly limitless opportunities to learn and to socialize, to be counted and to be heard. Actually, I became a advocate for technology accesible to children when my own kiddos were born. We lead a high mobile lifestyle that requires extra effort to stay connected to all those relatives and friends we often leave behind. Technology has been the answer to that challenge. Thanks to the internet, our laptop and mobile phones, our children identify themselves better with their grandparents, uncles, aunts, and cousins around the world.
Furthermore, when I think of my children and students and the impact of technology in their lives, I cannot help but admire the opportunity that being connected to the internet offers regarding language learning. Harnessing the power of digital technologies needs to be done by parents and educators to improve student language learning outcomes and to help children develop the skills they need to acquire a foreign language or to nurture the mother tongue when living abroad.
The Role of the Online Language Teacher at Home
A while ago I met online with a colleague to compare our lesson plans. She teaches Spanish online just like me. Together we were brainstorming ideas to improve language learning through games and crafts in ages 5 to 8. We also exchanged anecdotes about our students and their families.
All of the sudden it hit me.
I realized that we have become part of those families. That we implicitly shape, with every lesson, the behavior of those children connected to the internet. We are there for them when mom and dad work long hours. Somehow we harness and manage the power of technology in favor of our students and their learning process.
“Educators should make time for children to better understand and therefore make better use of technology, to fuel the advantages of online language learning and cultural training.”
Online courses are increasing in popularity and attendance among students around the world, and foreign language e-learning courses are one of the many classes college students are enrolling in. While you may find this surprising, due to advances in technology and new learning techniques, I think that e-learning provides a great way to ensure that you and your kiddos can become multilingual as well.
6 Reasons Why Your Family Needs an Online Language Teacher Now
Because they run on different platforms such as Skype, Zoom, and FaceTime among others, your family can access online foreign language lessons at any time during the day. Just schedule a session with your online teacher (paying close attention to your Time Zone) and get ready to improve your language skills in no time.
This means that you can brush up on your Spanish during your lunch break, learn French before your morning jog, or practice German late at night without the constraints of a rigorous schedule. Online courses also offer on-the-go mobile solutions, enabling you and your kids to complete coursework from anywhere, as your individual schedules permit, without having to travel.
One of my students has a little down time when he get’s to work in the morning, so at 7:00 am we connect for an hour and a half for an online business Spanish class. He has the same book as I do, and we practice until his daily meetings begin. I even have students in Hawai, Sidney and Munich. We coordinate the times for the lessons, since they are in different time zones.
I am currently teaching 8 years old twin sisters who live in Michigan. They enjoyed our weekly online lessons so much that they asked their mother to add an extra session per week so we could continue playing Guess Who? in Spanish online!! Sweet, isn’t it? They are being homeschooled, so learning Spanish is both convenient and aligned with their educational goals.
I am pretty sure you already noticed the many challenges that being a mom and a dad implies. It is even more difficult now that our children are exposed to tons of information that most of the time we are unable to filter.
Hiring an online teacher goes beyond paying a tutor to teach your child a language. You will be getting an online support who will introduce your child to the many verifiable resources in the internet, harness the unlimited power of being connected and will empower your son or daughter with tools to benefit from the Light Side of technology.
Few people pick up new foreign language lessons on the first attempt; thus, lessons that are truly tailored to your family’s needs will help students truly master another language. That is why I find that creating a Spanish curriculum for children around the world is one of the most rewarding jobs I’ve ever done. The results? Online lessons that really engage students throughout the learning process, allowing children to learn at their own pace, while providing a comfortable and safe environment, as well as a solid and comprehensive education.
An empathic teacher listens attentively to pupils and does all s/he can to get behind the words they are using and sense their emotional state and needs. This is the same whether it be a tired child, a busy spouse or a easily distracted teenager.
Online Language educators have the chance to meaningfully connect with their students, because both, teacher and learner, must rely in their voices and sense of hearing to experience the learning process. It is similar to removing our masks and postures so we can actually feel what it is like to be in someone else’s shoes.
All these years teaching Spanish and Culture online has given me access to experiences that can only drive my students language skills further as they struggle to find just the right words, the tones and the posture to express the subtleties required. To see them master the Spanish language and feel confident while doing it is my most appreciated reward.
The current language policies indicate that linguistic competence must be accompanied by cultural awareness and so it follows that the foreign language teacher’s mission is to pass on the knowledge of communicating beyond words, through a language of understanding and tolerance, of appreciation for the other’s values, customs and beliefs and an awareness of the different cultures among and around us.
Did I convince you yet of finding an awesome online language trainer? Did you already feel the need to delegate some of your child’s educational needs to a trustworthy teacher who can be easily accesible to you and your kids? Please remember that to take advantage of technology is a must when raising a globally minded family.