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Recommendations for Low Tech/No Tech Distance Learning English Learner Support

By Jorge Cuevas-Antillón, San Diego County Office of Education

Assumptions about distance learning as a means for learning need tempering, per the reality of inequities that exist across the country and within Californian communities. Even before the pandemic forced schooling at home, about one in seven students did not have a high speed internet connection. In the state’s suburban and urban high poverty neighborhoods and in most rural areas, distance learning is either unreliable, at times inaccessible, or even completely impossible for far too many families. 

Due to the confluence of poverty and language learner status, often English learner students find themselves outside the loop of educational support offered by schools and districts during the COVID-19 crisis. Even within the same zip code or neighborhood otherwise showing a high percentage of distance learning participation, English learners may have dropped out of the monitoring of their schools, especially students who are additionally homeless. Consequently, teachers and administrators should take steps to ensure more equity among families which may have less access to resources for distance learning.

Social/Emotional/Familial Support

Distance Learning Access Support

  • Map out wifi hotspots but recognize the viability and limitation of them
  • Consider tapping WhatsApp for lessons, such as using recorded audio to teach vocabulary
  • Create transcripts of otherwise video-only content, such as utilizing Google Docs “Voice Typing” to record, enabling student audio access and transcript reading access, rather than replying on video
  • Build around content available from public television stations or local newspapers, or partner with them to develop ideas, like vocabulary bingo or articles for the day
  • Tap DVDs, where such resources still exist, or sound recording technology along with audio playing devices can be sent home, perhaps wrapped around books and articles

Create Low Tech/No Tech Lessons

To explore the sources of many of these ideas and other similar recommendations, visit:

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