July 2020

Crowdsourced Advice about Remote Teaching

The FLTMAG asked our readers to tell us about some of the best advice they had heard or given to others about remote/online teaching in this time of COVID-19. We got great advice about a mixture of topics. Thank you for all the submissions!

DOI: https://www.doi.org/10.69732/LBKR2770

Keep it simple

Keep it simple and be understanding. Not all learners are tech savvy nor self-starters.
-Keith Corona, University of California, Santa Barbara

Don’t try to do too much

We have limited preparation time, so don’t try to do too much. Keep everything as simple as possible for yourself and for the students.
-Betsy Lavolette, Kyoto Sangyo University

Apply this to your face-to-face teaching

Give students choice. Provide low tech and high tech options for both learning and demonstrating proficiency. Connect the content to TODAY’S world. Allow yourself to be vulnerable enough for students to know you as a human, not just the voice on the screen. Add in and encourage humor. We all need a little sunshine in every day. These are good practices that can be applied with or without a pandemic. So use what you learn through this “forced” experience and apply it at such time as we return to a F2F environment.
-Lauren Rosen, University of Wisconsin

Be concerned about the human

Do less and let go. Be concerned about the human rather than the classwork.

Prioritize well-being

Prioritize students’ well-being over course requirements and be flexible.
-Andie Faber, Kansas State University

Being realistic

Slow down. Anticipate that you are going to cover much less than you wanted originally. Do not overwhelm students with HW assignments. Be consistent with deadlines.
-Iryna Hniadzko, Johns Hopkins University

Concrete expectations

If you are using Zoom with breakout rooms, create a Google doc that you can give the students the link to that has all of the information that they need to know to complete the activities in the breakout room and concrete expectations for what they need to be ready to share afterwards.


Students will not remember your lectures, they will remember whether you cared.

Our tool is empathy

The most important tool for us right now is empathy. We need to be understanding of how life is being disrupted for our students and fellow faculty.
-Cory Duclos, Colgate University

Synchronous vs. asynchronous

Less is more; allow for more asynchronous assignments whenever possible; make all quizzes and tests take home or replace with something that is not an assessment (project, assignment, time spent on an online vocabulary flashcard app like Quizlet, etc.); it’s ok if your class(es) this COVID-19 quarter are not good and definitely even if they are not perfect.

Give yourself a break

Do what you can. Don’t expect perfection. You’re learning new skills, using them in a new environment, in a bewildering time. Give yourself a break. Your students are going through a similar transformation. Give them a break, too.
-Lisa Frumkes, Yellow Wood Academy

Remote and online teaching

Remote teaching does not equal online teaching!

The essentials

Reduce content, and keep what is essential. Remember that we are teaching in the middle of a pandemic.
-Tatiana Calixto, University of Michigan


Keep directions simple and clear.
-Marcie Pratt

Sharing resources

My institution doesn’t have any educational technologists, so it’s nobody’s job to develop online teaching resources. I’ve been doing what I can to help. The following resources (Moodle, Microsoft Office, Zoom, etc.) were developed for faculty members in the Faculty of Foreign Studies at Kyoto Sangyo University, but I’d like to share them in the hope that they can be useful to others as well. I’m still adding to the list, so check back! Sharing resources
-Betsy Lavolette, Kyoto Sangyo University

Little by little

You do not have to master it all in one day.

Set-up time

If you choose to do synchronous Zoom session, remember that it will require a lot more setup time than an in-person class. Don’t expect to be able to accomplish the same amount of work in the same amount of time. Try to figure out what aspects of your class can be done asynchronously and what aspects must be done in person.
-Cory Duclos, Colgate University

Take factors into consideration

Do not overburden students with work. Take into consideration the variety of factors that may be affecting their ability to work from home.

Feel comfortable without cameras

We all should feel comfortable with students not having their cameras on. They do not have to.
-Tatiana Calixto, University of Michigan

Be open to new ideas

Try not to force the activities you were doing in-class to somehow pull them off online. Instead, be open to new ideas and speak with peers about how they’re approaching things.

Be patient

Be patient with yourself and with your students. Be ok with not being yourself.

Informal connections

The context in which something is taught is important as is the social aspect of learning (especially for languages!). Considering that I really missed those moments before class where I get to chit chat with the students, I figured they might miss it, too, so for each virtual class, I created a “pre-class banter” on Flipgrid. I ask them questions about how they are doing, what they are up to, things they enjoy, etc. Students get a half point of participation extra credit if they want to engage. I normally do not offer any extra credit in my classes, but it felt appropriate in this situation. I wanted it to be optional since I know that many students are in full blown survival mode and I don’t want to put extra work on them when they are already maxed out, but I also wanted to reward students who are continuing to show up and engage. I also figure it’s a good way to help students keep up their language skills in a low-stakes environment.
-Andie Faber, Kansas State University

Be flexible

Be flexible and try to remain engaged.
-Noah McLaughlin, Kennesaw State University

Talking about our experiences

We all need to talk about our experiences. Figure out ways to do this that also fosters your learning objectives.
-Lisa Frumkes, Yellow Wood Academy

What is at the core?

Keep it simple. Less is more. What’s at the core of what you want your students to learn?

Do what works

Do what works for you. Don’t expect it to be perfect.


I have found that I need to move from one activity to another many times over during our 50 minute class. I prepare 6-8 activities for each class. Each activity uses a different app (Kahoot, fill in the blanks, linoit, wheel decide, Google docs, YouTube, breakout rooms for conversation, Snapchat…) while we are on Zoom for the class.
-Arna Bronstein, University of New Hampshire

It takes time

Realize that teaching online may take more time than teaching in-person.

Be compassionate

Be compassionate! Students are simply surviving this spring just like we all are. Our students might go even to the most expensive universities, but back at home they might lack some of the most basic things that we expect everyone to have nowadays, like Internet or a printer.
-Iryna Hniadzko, Johns Hopkins University

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