Is there more to language teaching than “just talking”?

Is there more to language teaching than “just talking”?

I was recently speaking to a Korean friend of mine about how things have changed for him since COVID-19. As you can imagine, there was a long list of differences. Toward the end of it, he mentioned that his children were now getting their English lessons online. As someone intimately acquainted with online language teaching, my ears perked up. 

“How’s that going?” I asked.

“Terrible!” I probed him for details. ‘All they do is talk,” he said. “The whole time. Nothing else. No teaching.” 

I asked if it was important for his children to be able to speak English. “Of course,” he said. “Most important. But they need teaching. The talking they’re doing in the lesson is…” He trailed off. “It’s like friends.”

The expectations people have of teachers differs vastly from place to place, and there was definitely a cultural dimension to his argument, but I found myself wondering if he had a point. A lot of what goes on in online language lessons more closely resembles socializing than traditional teaching.  Read More »