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Emergency Online Teaching--What Works for Mississippi

Introduction to K-12 Language Education

Historically, language education as a discipline in the United States has included both English as a Second Language (ESL) and world languages (languages other than English). Teachers in these areas are often combined as language teachers in the empirical literature for several reasons.

  • All language educators share common goals: to support home languages while increasing cultural and linguistic proficiency in another.
  • They often serve as agents of change in schools and communities (Fogle & Moser, 2017).
  • Often teachers who work with emergent bilinguals (EBs; also known as English Learners) also instruct world language learners (García & Davis Wiley, 2012; Tedick, 2009).
  • Both groups of teachers combat dominant ideologies in place, xenophobia, and racism (Fogle & Moser, 2017) that isolate them from other colleagues in their schools (Bulgrin, 2007; Mason & Poyatos Matas, 2016).
  • Both disciplines are characterized by high teacher attrition (Carver-Thomas & Darling-Hammond, 2019) with most states reporting significant shortages (U.S. Department of Education, 2017)

Though we are combining them here, we recognize that ESL and WL teachers in the U.S have diverse roles and are held to different expectations. For example,

  • Testing mandates place considerable demands on ESL educators. On the contrary, an untested subject area like WL leads to fewer opportunities for these educators to access relevant professional development or instructional resources (Swanson, 2010).
  • The low value placed on second (or other) language study in the country (American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 2017) affects these language teachers in diverse ways. WL teachers report frequent concerns related to student motivation and learner disengagement (Zhang & Lin, 2020). ESL educators highlight the importance of teaching other teachers about the cultures of their learners in order to respond in culturally responsive ways to their needs (Fogle & Moser, 2017).

Language Teaching in Mississippi

Language teaching in Mississippi is influenced by the following factors among others:

Language Teaching in Emergency Contexts

Most scholars have differentiated between planned online teaching and emergency remote teaching. Planned online teaching including hybrid, fully online (virtual) or blended experiences differs from remote teaching, a temporary shift in instructional delivery due to an emergency condition such as health, war, or weather (Hodges, Moore, Lockee, Trust, & Bond, 2020).  Scholars and agencies that support effective planned online teaching (e.g., Online Learning Consortium, Quality Matters) have created standards and checklists for planned online educators and those navigating remote teaching. These emergency guidelines are grounded in the literature on effective online pedagogy. The following are factors that might influence language teaching in an emergency context:

  • Reports suggest that WL teachers may have negative perceptions of online teaching (Moser, Wei, & Brenner, 2021)
  • Few WL teachers had experiences teaching online prior to the onset of COVID-19 in the United States in spring 2020 (Moser, Wei, & Brenner, 2021)
  • Standards that guide WL teacher preparation do not currently include guidelines for online instruction (ACTFL, 2015)
  • Though teacher preparation as a whole fails to prepare future educators for online contexts (Barbour & Harrison, 2016; Barbour, Siko, Gross, & Widell, 2013; Kennedy & Archambault, 2012), there may be even fewer language teacher preparation programs that address this reality (Chambless, Moser, & Hope, forthcoming)
  • Many EBs in Mississippi are younger learners and may rely on caregiver supervision to complete work when not in physical classrooms

Our Summer Workshop: Support for Online Language Teaching (SOLT)

SOLT included 50 K-12 educators, equally divided between ESL and WL teachers across the state.  Participating teachers represented 45 of Mississippi’s K-12 schools. Most ESL educators were working with younger learners in the elementary grades, and almost all WL teachers (including French, German, Russian, and Spanish) were assigned to middle and high school classrooms. The workshop consisted of 40 hours of professional development delivered fully online that related specifically to teaching languages with and through technology. Over a 10-day period, participating teachers heard from various experts from across the country on a range of topics such as critical place pedagogy, trauma-informed teaching principles, engaging learners in online contexts, principles for developing an online community of inquiry, and expectations of language learners. All language teachers below collaborated with one another each day to create the artifacts shared on this site:

            Karla Alfaro, Walls Elementary School

            Patti Argueta, Picayune Memorial High School

            Michael Baird, OakGrove Central Elementary School

            Tamara Billingsley, Clarksdale High School

            Ady Blakney, Flowood Elementary School

            Frank Bradford, Lake Cormorant High School

            Robin Denise Bruce, Madison School District

            Charlotte Bryant, Pecan Park Elementary School

            Katherine Carr, D’Iberville Elementary School

            DeVonda Cheeks, Huey L Porter Middle School

            Joy Chunn, Union County School District

            Collette Field, Biloxi High School

            Bradley Freeny, Clinton High School

            Jamey Germany, Lauderdale County Schools

            Jaime Guenard, Bay St. Louis Waveland School District

            Margaret Mary Henry, The Mississippi School for Math and Science

            Jennifer Hindman, Brandon Middle School

            Ronald Jeri, Laurel High School

            Mariah Johnson, Bayou View Middle School

            Bonnie Keene, Water Valley High School

            Monica Lamelas, Booneville High School

            Hanna Lindamood, South Panola School District

            Ali Lopez, Hazlehurst City School District

            Haylee Lucas, Purvis High School

            Tina Milkani, Hattiesburg High School

            Buffie McCollum, Mooreville Elementary School

            Alicia Milstead, Tupelo High School

            Megan Morgan, Pascagoula High School

            Raven Redmond-Johnson, Holmes County Consolidated School District

            Julie Roberts, Clinton High School

            Noah Roberts, Rosa Scott High School

            Stephanie Rowe, Overpark Elementary School

            Susan Russell, North Pontotoc Elementary School

            Patricia Salamonson, Ridgeland High School

            Erica Scott, Ocean Springs High School

            Annette Sherrer, Picayune Memorial High School

            Paola Ruiz Soto, Columbus High School

            Anthony Stewart, North Panola High School

            Michaela Stovall, Clinton Park Elementary School

            Carmen Taylor, Canton Elementary School

            Claudia Triana-Smith, Petal Upper and High Schools

            Janice Turnage, Oakland Heights Elementary School

            Max Vanlandingham, Northwest Ranking High School

            Noel Wagnon, North Jones Elementary School

            Connie Washington-Priest, Bates Elementary School

            Kim Watson, Pelahatchie High School

            Diedra Winters, Old Town Middle School

We wish to thank all of the teachers who participated in this workshop and those who applied but were not able to be included. We also are grateful for the educators and scholars who shared their expertise with Mississippi’s teachers: Drs. Leanna Archambault (Arizona State University), Maria Coady (University of Florida), Krista Chambless (University of Alabama at Birmingham), Florencia Henshaw (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign), Sandrine Hope (Davidson College), and Erica Saldívar García (New York University-Steinhardt).

Resources for Online or Remote Language Teachers

Distance Learning for ELs
Distance Learning for ELLs: Planning Instruction | Colorín Colorado

Digital Resources for EL Students

iCivics and ELL

Resources for Online Language Teachers

8 Strategies to Improve Participation in a Virtual Classroom

Engaging Students Virtually

Ideas to Engage Students Online

Comprehensive List of Resources 


K-12 World Languages: Unit Exemplars & Getting Started: Teaching Languages Online

K-12 English as a Second (Other) Language: Unit Exemplars & Getting Started: Teaching Languages Online