Can language courses be just as good (or better) online?

By | November 16, 2018
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group of students talking

Digital resources for learning languages supplement old-school face-to-face conversations. (UM-Dearborn News)

For a long time, language instruction has been among those subjects that conventional wisdom held was a tough one to put online. But things are changing as Dearborn faculty are exploring the promise of creating hybrid language courses that pair class time with digital learning.

UM-Dearborn instructional designer Alfonso Sintjago is a big believer in digital education, but he’ll be the first to tell you that some courses are better fits for online makeovers. “Speaking is a major part of learning a language, and there are obviously certain advantages to doing that face-to-face,” Sintjago said. French Lecturer Jerilyn Mannion admits she was among those who had some reservations.

But with the help of Sintjago, she decided to take on the challenge of designing a new hybrid version of her French course, which debuts at UM-Dearborn next semester. Once she explored the slate of new learning tools that were available, she started to see how a hybrid course might not just be as effective, but possibly more effective for some students. One additional perk for students: The system is completely free.