Je suis un chat.
Clearly, I am not a cat, but to fill my self-quarantined time, I have been repeating this French phrase over and over again. With the encouragement of Duolingo, a foreign language app, I have also been Paul and un chien (a dog). To learn another country’s language in these circumstances, I had to accept the new reality.
At this point in time, we have no idea when we will be able to travel abroad again. But we don’t need to be idle. We can keep our travel muscles limber with foreign language classes. Then, once we can roam the globe again, we can gleefully jump right into conversations with locals – and their pets.
Linguist experts and educators say the best way to learn a new language is to converse directly with the instructor or native speaker, ideally in the same physical space. However, with schools and foreign language centers closed, we have to take our lessons indoors, online and in isolation. In response, a few organisations, such as the International Center for Language Studies and the Global Language Network, both in the District, have shifted their in-person classes to virtual “synchronous classrooms.” For this arrangement, students and teachers confer via Skype, Zoom or another similar computer interface platform.
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