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Teacher finds innovative way to deliver Spanish online

Published:Friday | June 5, 2020 | 12:17 AMJudana Murphy/Gleaner Writer
Zavia Cunningham
Zavia Cunningham

IN NORMAL times, Zavia Cunningham guides her students through the structured Spanish curriculum with face-to-face encouragement.

But since March 13, the Wolmer’s Boys’ School teacher has had to find innovative ways to execute effective remote lessons owing to school closures amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Foreign languages require testing in four skill areas, namely, listening, reading, writing, and speaking.

“In the online context, it has been a little challenging testing the oral aspect, and we are still trying to figure out how to go about incorporating it,” said Cunningham.

Getting practice on the oral component is crucial for her fifth-form students, who will be sitting external exams in the coming weeks.

Asking students to record assigned reading passages and submit them for assessment is the closest her students have been able to come to the traditional classroom setting.

Though there are challenges, she has been able to fast-track the implementation of teaching aids to support the curriculum.

Kahoot! is a game-based learning platform with user-generated multiple-choice quizzes.

“The boys enjoy competition and I’ve always been thinking about introducing it, but because they can’t have phones or tablets at school, I wasn’t sure how I could use it,” she said.

With students being at home, using the same devices to access distance learning, it was the perfect time.

Cunningham has used the platform as a revision tool for each topic and said students have been demanding that it is used more.

“They enjoy the online experience. For my first class, I had 31 students and I was quite surprised that I had so many; but they like the online space, and it gives them the opportunity to explore different options and be creative in the space,” said the teacher of four years.

For the four-week exam refresher sessions that will commence on June 8, modern languages students will be timetabled for additional sessions.

“We have a few students who have not been consistently able to access the online space, so we will be going through past-paper questions, some grammatical content, and remind them of what is expected of them during the oral exams,” Cunningham said.