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During this period of hard time, do you want to know how other country’s student think about the online classes? Does online classes influence theri school life?
‘Jill Robbins wrote this story for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.‘
Nicole Becerra is a 17-year-old from Peru. She moved to New York to study English a year ago so that she could attend the Parsons School of Design. Parsons is one of the five colleges at The New School. Becerra says that like many first-year students, she gained weight during her first few months in New York. One reason may be that she was eating the wonderful mix of foods that the city offers. She returned home at the end of 2019 and was there when the coronavirus pandemic struck. Since then, she has only taken online classes.
“Actually it’s a dream for me to be in my country and study in New York because when I had to go the first time to New York … at the airport, it was like, ‘No, I don’t want to go to New York — I want to be with my family. But now that I have the opportunity to be in a virtual way in New York but in my country … for me, it’s perfect, but I know I have to return to the face to face classes. I’m enjoying nowadays.”
Speaking up and being understood
Gloria Chen is another Parsons student who is now in Taiwan. She was forced to change her sleep cycle. So, she is now awake all night, taking classes at 2 in the morning on some days.
Chen told VOA her family asks her to keep her voice low in the middle of the night, but she wants to speak louder.
“It does bother them… They will say, “Can you keep your volume a little bit lower?” And I will say, ‘Yeah. I’ll try it’ but in the online classes, you’re not sure if people can hear you exactly. So, I just want to keep that my volume up and people don’t think that Asian people are all shy.”
Aretha Wang is a mathematics major at Ohio State University. She was living in Ohio when the school closed in March. Now she is back home in China and taking online classes. She feels that it is harder to do the group work on the internet. Wang says students find it difficult to carry on a discussion in online breakout rooms.
“They can’t understand me as they do in person that much .. and I cannot understand them that much. It feels like it makes us hard to understand each other and it also makes us hard to cooperate with each other.”
Good things about online classes
Gloria Chen says one good thing about online education is that all the classes are recorded. She says this helps her when she is studying for an exam.
“In fact, I think the best thing about online classes is that the whole class will be recorded, and which gives me a lot of time to review and understand some points I don’t understand at the time.”
“I don’t waste time in public transportation. I don’t have to be in the snow waiting for my train…”
And special clothing for the changing seasons is no longer a concern, said Chen.
Danger of sitting for too long
For many teachers, the long hours spent at a computer are more tiring than in-person classes. Elizabeth Marner-Brooks teaches English to Parsons’ international students. She told VOA she had several health problems that were caused by sitting for most of the day. “I caution people now. I’m sitting and I don’t even realize that they have a break. So, I make sure I do that. I had 20 hours on the computer for Zoom in two days. So, I’m careful, you know — they go on a break — I stand up, I walk, I move. There are dangers.”
Marner-Brooks says the length of her classes has gone down with the move to teaching online. Students have asked for her help in forming discussion groups so they can get more experience speaking English. One student formed a WhatsApp group and noted every member of the group is in a different country.
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