Urgent Transition to Group Online Foreign Language Instruction: Problems and Solutions


  • Daria V. Kolesova
  • Leonid V. Moskovkin
  • Tatiana I. Popova




The purpose of this work is to study how teachers and students react to the urgent large-scale transition to online education. The research was done via surveys conducted at the Center for Additional Educational Programs in the field of Russian as a Foreign Language at St. Petersburg State University. March 2020 transition to distance learning kept intact the lesson schedule, the duration of lessons, and the compliance with the approved programs. This case study was conducted as follows: (1) a questionnaire for teachers was distributed via e-mail; (2) teachers’ responses were collected and processed; (3) a questionnaire for students was created in Google Forms; (4) students’ responses were collected and processed; (5) the research results were described and analyzed; (6) teachers’ and students’ responses were compared. The study involved 45 teachers and 100 foreign students, mostly from China. The majority of teachers taught at Level A2 (48%); the majority of students studied at Level B1 (36%). The study shows that modern teachers (77.8%) have a high degree of adaptability, which allows them to switch to new teaching formats in two weeks. They use a variety of teaching aids: not only textbooks mandated by the curriculum (100%), but also other textbooks (91.1%), educational materials from the Internet (88.9%), authentic audio/video materials (51.1%), and self-developed educational materials (53.3%). According to students, the most effective are the authentic materials from the Internet (45%), and the textbook mandated by the program (41%). Both teachers and students noted difficulties in the online training of four language skills: speaking (35.6% of teachers and 32% of students), writing (17.8% and 32%, respectively), listening (15.6% and 40%), and reading (11.1% and 17%). Teachers lack personal communication with students (35.6%), specialized online tools for teaching Russian as a foreign language (13.3%), and effective means of monitoring the acquisition of educational material (31.1%). They strive to solve these problems through a variety of activities, creating an atmosphere conducive to authentic communication. Research data correspond with the conclusions of methodologists about the fundamentally new nature of the relationship between teachers and students in the virtual environment, which is manifested in a less hierarchic teacher-student relationship due to greater initiative, involvement, and independence of students in an online lesson. The article presents a way to study the perception of changes in the teaching mode by teachers and students. The research enriches the e-learning knowledge area with data on how the sudden mass transition to online foreign language learning was carried out.



21 Apr 2021