Access to language, digital network and human resources: Lockdown challenges for language teachers of students with disabilities in the Global South

Dani Fobi 

July 2020 

In the Global South context where language teaching has been challenging because of limited human and material resources even on regular days, it becomes more difficult in these contexts when lockdowns are in place because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Now that everything is done virtually, good internet connectivity plays a critical role to support language teachers both in the rural and urban areas of these contexts. In the urban areas where presumably resources are available to support teachers convey teaching to students on virtual platforms, the challenge of teachers preparing their lessons and delivering through these media arises as the majority of these teachers are not used to these platforms. There is also limited support available to help teachers to prepare and deliver their lessons online. In some instances in the Global South, the majority of networks are now migrating to 3G/4G internet services, therefore they run on 2G/2.5G. Running programmes on 2G or 2.5G internet in times when the majority of internet subscribers are using the internet creates online traffic which causes the delay in communications on the internet. Teaching through these media also requires that students have phones and laptops that will enable them access to learning remotely in their homes. Unfortunately, the majority of children and young people in the Global South do not have access to these gadgets, and so they are not able to access learning on other media and social media platforms like WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Regarding teaching deaf students, for example, one is required to have the communication skills in sign language or have interpreters to render whatever is taught in spoken language into sign language. Getting interpreters in contexts where there is limited professional training in this area also creates challenging situations that language teachers need to contend with. In the rural areas, access to electricity and even digital media is a problem since those who even have access to electricity often do not have televisions that can help their children have access to whatever is being discussed on TV. This makes teaching language in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic more challenging for teachers in the Global South. 

 

To see all narratives in Language Teachers’ Lives in Global Lockdown, please click here. 

To read Dani’s paper on communication approaches for educating deaf and hard of hearing children in Ghana, click here