Michał Daszkiewicz University of Gdańsk, POLAND; https://orcid.org/0000-0003-2463-393X
Bibliographic citation: (ISSN 2657-9774) Educational Role of Language Journal. Volume 2021-1(5). COVID-19 – A Source of Threats or Opportunities for Linguistic Education, Introduction, pp. 4-5
The pandemic has undoubtedly reshaped the way we now perceive education. It has imposed a need to pursue new ways of learning and teaching, novel (online) educational trajectories, and – maybe most significantly – radically different forms of how we now communicate “at schools” and use our language(s). What is particularly crucial to ERL Journal, though, it can be argued to have had its silver lining in that it has brought closer the two “worlds” of linguistic and educational specialists. The former have come to view their reality in pedagogical terms as they were forced to struggle for contact with their students online and to think of ways in which their interlocutors can best be prompted and turn on their cameras and actively participate in lessons kept remotely. The latter, on the other hand have been – consciously or not – caused to reflect on issues to do with language, be it the gap between language reception and production, elicitation techniques, intralanguage, etc. Hence, the educational world of the two groups in question has substantially changed and been enriched with conceptual and didactic categories which are bound to be of use following the pandemic.
Thinking of the impact of the pandemic even more specifically, we observe that it has generated a wide range of questions intersecting pedagogy and linguistics. Many of these questions which have been posed by students themselves and they prove to encompass all the educational (ERL) domains – be it their reflection along the lines What’s the point of speaking (if I can just be quiet) (language(-)beliefs), How to present in words what my school friends cannot see offline? (language(-)activity), How do the others think about the way I say things online? (language(-)affect), or Can be learn all the subjects just by discussing them through the net? (language(-)thinking). Reflection on these issues has possibly raised the students’ language awareness, especially if their teachers have happened to render such questions and the issues they address explicit in particular classroom contexts. This being the case, we can observe here room for inevitable emergence and amplification of interdisciplinary linguistic identity across and within all school subjects and disciplines. What follows is that the remote education triggered by COVID-19 can be viewed as an opportunity to develop and extend students’ awareness of their linguistic identity on the axiological, psychomotor, affective, and cognitive strata.
Having exerted far-reaching impact on the entire educational world, the pandemic has taken its toll on the ERL Framework and ERL Journal itself just as well. With the ERL (live) Conferences having been put on hold till international gatherings cease to pose any threat to the participants, ERL (online) Sessions have been held, which yielded in due course some of the papers included in this volume. Prior to its publication ERL Association has hosted four online sessions. the last two of them took place in spring 2021 and concerned, respectively, threats and opportunities generated by COVID-19 for linguistic education (the very same title as that of this very volume) and linguistic well-being (which, in turn, is going to constitute the essence of Volume 6 to be published later this year). Although all four ERL Sessions attracted participants from multiple places in the world (and to enable this, each session was scheduled for two days, with the first one being more convenient for European academics, and the other – for those joining from the other hemisphere), most of the attendees reported on their struggle with teaching dominated throughout the pandemic by long hours of online classes and excessive computer work, which has made them less willing or less able to do research and produce as many scholarly papers as they had done prior to the times of the pandemic.
And yet, we have managed to compile this volume, which, despite being shorter than all the four published earlier, partially reflects the course taken by ERL Framework. It strives, as the title implies, to seek balance between the negative and positive effects of the pandemic and reflects a host of issues that COVID-19 has caused us to face on the level of language in education. On the whole, all the texts included in it jointly serve two functions: first, they emphasise the salience of the pedagogical component brought to the fore by the pandemic as noted above, and, second, they outline selected issues appearing relevant to linguistic education at the times when education comes to rest of modern technology and nearly solely online communication. At the same time, we view the set of papers and reports included here as a natural continuation of the eponymous issue of the previous ERL Journal’s volume – (Re-)Shaping One’s Identity with Language, with the pandemic imposing on all academics, teachers, linguists, and students a need to redefines themselves on the educational level and to start using the language(s) they know well in novel ways – through a channel they had not exploited earlier for these purposes, and by the form of Internet interaction which forces them to overcome various barriers they had had, not only technical, but also interpersonal, methodological, pedagogical, and/or linguistic.
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