English language students give online learning at RMIT a thumbs up

English language students give online learning at RMIT a thumbs up

To adapt to the changes brought on by the global coronavirus pandemic, RMIT’s School of English and University Pathways (SEUP) upscaled its learning model in February to deliver an exceptional online experience for nearly 1000 students learning English across three locations in Vietnam.

Drawing on the university’s international experience in delivering online education from Melbourne to Singapore, the School quickly adapted to the new environment, converting 23 English courses online, teaching 5,664 hours of online English, and conducted and assessing 3,512 tests online. 

The feedback from students has endorsed the approach, with 85 per cent of teens studying English programs at RMIT giving positive feedback on their learning experiences, 91 per cent of IELTS Preparation students highly valuing their native English-speaking teachers, and 89 per cent of students in the English for University program rating their teachers positively.

Since late February, RMIT’s School of English and University Pathways has been delivering an exceptional experience for nearly 1000 English students in various programs through a new online learning model. Since late February, RMIT’s School of English and University Pathways has been delivering an exceptional experience for nearly 1000 English students in various programs through a new online learning model.

SEUP Director Urica Lopez said the school’s educators have been committed to maintaining student engagement and learning continuity through online class delivery.

“This took a combined and comprehensive approach from all parts of the school and required immediate solutions in all operational teaching and learning areas,” Mrs Lopez said. 

“These solutions included a considered adaptation of the curriculum to support digital delivery, including for students with a visual impairment, the development of synchronous and asynchronous professional training for teachers to prepare them for online delivery, the development of ‘learning to learn online’ materials for all students as they commenced online engagement, and the development of support systems including online moderators and online tutoring schedules.”

With a current student body of 805, the school’s English for University department committed to delivering a communicative, student-centred experience based on best practice methodologies for language learning, an approach unlike any other language school in Vietnam.

All online classes have a language teacher, and a support teacher to help with any technical issues students may be having. Students in Hanoi, Saigon South, various provinces and Korea were all studying in the same online classroom.

The department’s Head George Chapman also confirmed that all lower English class levels, Elementary and Pre-Intermediate, have a Vietnamese speaking teaching assistant to offer the same technical support in Vietnamese. 

English students continue to work with their teachers and other students individually, in pairs, small groups, and as a whole class virtually. English students continue to work with their teachers and other students individually, in pairs, small groups, and as a whole class virtually.

“All educators incorporate different dynamics into their lessons, to keep students interested and engaged, and to encourage them to work with a variety of different people,” Mr Chapman said. 

“Students continue to work with their teachers and other students individually, in pairs, small groups, and as a whole class,” he said. 

The online model has been introduced to all SEUP’s services as well, to ensure students from all levels can receive continued support during their time with RMIT, Mr Chapman emphasised. 

“This includes 1-on-1 tutoring and advising after class, receiving feedback on their language from the work they do in class and for homework, and receiving specific advice on how to improve their skills and how to progress.

“We are ensuring the best learning experiences in the current world crisis, and equipping students with skills for life and work, including agility, problem solving, online connection, plus working and collaborating across international teams.”

Eighty-five per cent of teens studying English at RMIT gave positive feedback on their online learning experiences. Eighty-five per cent of teens studying English at RMIT gave positive feedback on their online learning experiences.

English for Teens student Co Thanh Doan said he really enjoyed learning a language online using the interactive learning software Blackboard Ultra. 

“I am still learning with RMIT's senior and experienced native English-speaking teachers and receiving support from Teaching Assistants,” Doan said. 

“I can send my teacher questions in a chat box without feeling shy or anxious, and have no fear of missing the notes as the lessons can be replayed. Online learning material is also available.”

“I still can practice my IELTS Speaking skills via video recordings and receive individual direct feedback from my teachers.”

Story: Ha Hoang

01 June 2020

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