Soon it will be a year since the COVID-19 pandemic burst into our lives and interrupted so many things. In a world where so much has changed in so little time, where so many procedures have been modified, especially in the world of teaching and/or learning, much is said about the future needs of language teaching. We are facing a situation where we currently cannot travel, socialise like we did before nor interact with other countries, cultures and, consequently, languages. But what will happen to the necessity of learning languages?
It is true that the current situation limits the possibility of travelling. But the need to learn, and therefore, teach languages, to communicate and to socialise with the rest of the world is still there. In fact, teaching languages might be more necessary now than ever before for several reasons.
Firstly, the current sanitary crisis will lead to a future economic crisis. We know that in these situations people aim for further qualifications to acquire more knowledge, to be able to reinvent themselves and face both personal and professional challenges. English is one of them and it is very important.
Secondly, the undisputable rise of online communication platforms. These platforms make us more accessible and connected to the rest of the world than ever before. As such, now might be the right time for someone to learn a language to be able to communicate in a work or educational setting, for example.
Taking into account the current situation, the need to learn and teach languages will continue to exist. That said, the pandemic has severely impacted the world of teaching, and not only that of language teaching. Educational institutions like ourselves have been forced to modernise and prepare to continue providing this knowledge within any context and maintaining the same high quality. In this sense, what we have had clear since the beginning of Kids&Us is that the world of learning could not stop for our students. The cost of missing a few months of learning for any child is extremely high. For this reason, we digitalised our method with the aim of guaranteeing learning in any setting.
With the current and future setting in mind, it is clear our children and teenagers will have to firmly prepare for a more international context that will likely be tougher and more competitive.
How can we balance these needs with high quality learning that is safe for everyone?
- By committing to excellence, as we always have done. This is not exclusive to the current situation, for Kids&Us this is a constant way of working.
- Understanding what motivates our students and what goals they have: why do they need English and how can we be by their side to help them.
- Adapting to new learning environments which enable access to knowledge within any context and guarantees that learning is just as motivating. At the same time ensuring individual monitoring, communication with all involved and, of course, effectiveness of the results.
Without a doubt, the coronavirus crisis has immensely promoted learning via other means. Although it is relatively new and unexplored by educational centres, it is a means where the younger generations are in their element. Furthermore, bearing in mind that the physical borders between countries are more pronounced now than ever before, the online world that our children have before them has no frontiers. Like it or not, we humans are sociable “animals”, sociable and communicative. We will always communicate wherever we are, and it will be completely natural for us.
Therefore, English will continue to be necessary; the need to learn it and have a good grasp of it could make a difference. In this ever-present virtual world, with the current extensive use of platforms which allow us to attend a meeting from different places, it is not too far-fetched to think that now more than any time in the past it is more likely to work in an international team. Sharing knowledge by removing distance and saving time is a reality; it is like teleporting. As such, collaborating with multilingual teams where English is the working language will become more and more common.
It is important to remember not to stop at any given moment; learning a language is a marathon not a sprint, and consistency is key. A second or third language should grow alongside a person, just like their mother tongue. It is vital that exposure and learning does not stop, because the cost of losing a year of education is extremely high. In short, the current situation is circumstantial and should not interrupt the process the children had started since they were very little, which it had in our case, and waste the accumulated knowledge they had acquired.