Finding Success in Online Teaching

This month we published Teaching Children Online by Carla Meskill and Natasha Anthony. In this post the authors introduce their new book.

Online education continues to see a rise in popularity among school-age students who otherwise cannot or do not wish to attend brick and mortar schools. Our new book, Teaching Children Online, is a guide for new and practicing online teachers whose goal is to make optimal use of the medium to teach such students. To do so, we provide numerous illustrations of effective, conversation-based online instructional practices along with commentary on the rationale and mechanics of these interactions. Our goal is to support online teachers in mastering the affordances of the online medium.

Current debate regarding “regular and substantive” contact in online learning centers on the amount and quality of teacher interaction with students in online courses. Publishers and for-profit schools would like to automate as much online instruction as they can for obvious reasons: quality educators cost money where programmed instruction – digital texts with automated assessments that simulate instruction – are a one-time expense. In an effort to preserve the critical role of instructional conversation – asynchronous and synchronous communication with teachers, peers and area experts – educators continue to agitate for “regular and substantive contact” with online instructors as a fundamental right and responsibility. Our hope is that Teaching Children Online will support educators in designing effective instructional conversations and thereby engage learners in the best instruction possible.

For more information about this book please see our website.

If you found this interesting, you might also like the authors’ previous book Teaching Languages Online.

Teaching Languages Online: Between the Covers

This month we are publishing a new, revised edition of Carla Meskill and Natasha Anthony’s textbook Teaching Languages Online. In this post, the authors tell us how the book has evolved since the first edition. 

We hear a lot from online teachers and students about the liberating aspect of anytime and anywhere instruction, especially the teaching and learning that happens right before you drift off to sleep and/or when you first wake in the morning. Having your courses literally ‘at hand’ while horizontal between the covers means being infinitely more relaxed than you would be in a live classroom. This is an aspect of language learning that is often cited as additive to second language acquisition processes. For teaching also, a relaxed state can be productive for thinking and perspective-taking regarding your classes. In short, teaching and learning between the covers can be viewed as both pleasurable and productive.

The new edition of our book, Teaching Languages Online, acknowledges what we like to call this ‘between the covers’ advantage of 100% mobility. In keeping with this view, the text’s instructional models, activities and methods are consistently situated in the contemporary mobile lives of teachers and students.

Untitled-1Have a look at the cover of our first edition where students sit in front of desktops.

Compare this to the cover of our new edition and you will observe this shift in orientation. And, throughout these revised and updated chapters you will see that while mobility brings liberation, it is not without related teaching responsibilities regarding student focus, attention, and accountability, each of which is strategically attended to throughout.

In this new edition, you will also experience forms of teaching and learning commensurate with 3D immersive environments that, like mobility, bring their own special edge and flavor to instructional conversations.

Whether it’s between the covers or on the run, our aim is that the foundations, skills and strategies presented in our updated book will not only shape you into an excellent online practitioner, but also bring you the pleasure and satisfaction of professionalism in the online world of language education.

For more information about the book please see our website and to order an inspection/desk copy for the course you are teaching please fill in the form here.

Double figures for MM Textbooks series!

Key Topics in Second Language AcquisitionNext month we are publishing Key Topics in Second Language Acquisition by Vivian Cook and David Singleton. This text provides an introduction to the most important topics in SLA research. This book marks the 10th in the MM Textbooks series which began with its first book in 2008.

The textbook series aims to bring the topics of our monograph series to a student audience. Written by experts in the field, the books are supervised by a team of world-leading scholars and evaluated by instructors before publication. Each text is student-focused, with suggestions for further reading and study questions leading to a deeper understanding of the subject.

We started the series off in 2008 with Allyson Jule’s A Beginner’s Guide to Language and Gender which gave students a broad introduction to the study of language and gender.

Next came textbooks on bilingual first language acquisition, multilingualism and literacy, sociolinguistics and the law and teaching languages online.

Merrill Swain, Penny Kinnear and Linda Steinman wrote the 7th textbook in the series, Sociocultural Theory in Second Language Education. Neomy Storch of the University of Melbourne calls their book “a most welcome addition to the growing literature on sociocultural theory” and “an accessible and highly engaging” introduction to the topic of sociocultural theory.

Judit Kormos and Anne Margaret Smith’s book Teaching Languages to Students with Specific Learning Differences aims to provide useful advice for language teachers working with students with various kinds of learning difficulties.

Spanish Speakers in the USA by Janet M. Fuller examines the issues of language, culture and identity for Spanish speakers in the US.

MM Textbooks

Key Topics in Second Language Acquisition is due to be published in early April. This and all our textbooks are available as inspection/desk copies and can be ordered on our website: http://www.multilingual-matters.com/about_inspection.asp.

The full list of books in the series is:
A Beginner’s Guide to Language and Gender by Allyson Jule
Bilingual First Language Acquisition by Annick De Houwer
Learning to be Literate by Viv Edwards
An Introduction to Bilingual Development by Annick De Houwer
Sociolinguistics and the Legal Process by Diana Eades
Teaching Languages Online by Carla Meskill and Natasha Anthony
Sociocultural Theory in Second Language Education by Merill Swain, Penny Kinnear and Linda Steinman
Teaching Languages to Students with Specific Learning Differences by Judit Kormos and Anne Margaret Smith
Spanish Speakers in the USA by Janet M. Fuller
Key Topics in Second Language Acquisition by Vivian Cook and David Singleton

If you are currently teaching a course and do not have an adequate textbook, please let us know at info@multilingual-matters.com and we will do our best to fill the gap.

NABE Conference 2013

NABE 2013
NABE 2013

Last month, I kick-started our 2013 conference exhibits with a trip to the National Association for Bilingual Education (NABE) conference, which was held at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort in Florida. It is a few years since we last exhibited at NABE, and my first time at the conference. While there were very few people I’d met before there, it was really interesting to chat to all the delegates who popped by the stand and to meet a few of our authors for the first time.

Laura at the Multilingual Matters NABE stand
Laura at the Multilingual Matters NABE stand

Among the authors I spoke to were Ofelia García and Bahar Otcu who, together with Zeena Zakharia, edited our new book Bilingual Community Education and Multilingualism, Beatriz Arias one of the editors of Implementing Educational Language Policy in Arizona and Carla Meskill who co-authored Teaching Languages Online.  These titles aside, our books on language policy and teaching were the most frequently picked up, with Janet Fuller’s new textbook Spanish Speakers in the USA being very popular, as was Teaching Languages to Students with Specific Learning Differences by Kormos and Smith.

Ofelia Garcia's keynote
Ofelia Garcia’s keynote

I was really fortunate to be able to leave the stand to attend Ofelia García’s inspiring keynote session “Global Perspectives on Bilingual Education: Implications for the US”. I found hearing about language practices in 4 quite different countries very interesting and one of several quotes which has stuck with me since the talk goes something along the lines of “English runs through my veins, while Spanish is in my heart”. What kind of damage are we doing to a child if we remove one of those components?” I was pleased to hear her speak about the exciting new book she has published with us, and, as a cyclist, I especially enjoyed her use of pictures of bicycles to complement her talk!

The conference apart, I really enjoyed feeling some warm Floridian sun on my face – quite a change from the cold we’ve had in the UK recently. It was also quite novel to be at Disney World, although I was very pleased that I didn’t have to fight Mickey away from our books and, to my great relief, I didn’t actually see Mickey (or any of his friends) once!

Laura