Online learning expectations (do’s and don’ts)

Online language courses follow a rigorous schedule

  • Through self-paced and regardless of the length of the course, you will have something to do each day of the session.
  • If the pace seems too intensive in the 6-week or 7.5-week course, consider taking a 15-week version in the Fall or Spring instead if they are available for your language.
  • You can do this through drop/add or by speaking to your academic advisor. (remember drop/add dates)

Create a learning routine and stick to it

  • Consider setting task notifications for assignment deadlines or create your own calendar. 
  • Reach out to your instructor if you have questions or need clarifications. They are there to help you.
  • Check your course calendar and Canvas each and every day. Hint: print the calendar and place it in your workplace! 

Language learning will always require real-time conversation

  • The majority of the course will be self-paced and asynchronous (not happening at the same time).
  • Language courses will typically have one to two synchronous (happening at the same time) assignments per unit module.
  • These assignments are critical to providing you with real-time practice talking to a variety of people.
  • Your instructors will typically provide you a method for self-selecting a synchronous time to participate in these conversations.
  • If for some reason the synchronous time slots offered will not work for your schedule, have a conversation with your instructor to see what additional options may be available.

Technology is part of an online course

  • You don’t have to be a technology expert, but you do need basic computer skills and be able to read directions, follow them, and know when to ask for help.
  • You have to have access to a computer, a good internet connection, a webcam, and a microphone.
  • Most language courses will also include some external technology applications that you may need to download or create an account with (e.g. Zoom, FlipGrid, VHL platform, Respondus Lockdown Browser)
  • If you run into technical difficulties, there are many tech support options available to you listed in the Help section. 
  • We recommend the “10 minute rule,” which means if you cannot figure out how to use a technology tool in 10 minutes, you should stop and find appropriate help (see the "get help" section below).

Academic dishonesty

  • Many language courses utilize proctoring technology to monitor and ensure that students’ work is their own. (e.g. Respondus Lockdown Browser, RPNow, etc.)
  • Using tutors to edit language writing assignments is a form of academic dishonesty as it takes away students’ opportunities to determine the errors for themselves.
  • Using online translators is another form of academic dishonesty. 

Strategies for learning target language

Why are you learning a language?

  • Help you get a job! Check out the "careers and foreign languages wheel."
  • Are fun! 
  • Enrich your travel experiences.
  • Allow you to engage in the local environment.
  • Combat aging effects.
  • Expand your worldview, allowing for a better understanding of other peoples and cultures

Language learning skills overview

  • Practice all types of skills as much as possible as they are interconnected (e.g. speaking will help listening and writing)
  • Memorizing will be a key part of building your skills. Try mnemonic devices.
  • When dealing with vocabulary, categorizing, repetition and using context are effective ways of learning.   
  • Read over grammatical explanations and apply them for communicative purposes.

Language learning: The four skills

  • Listening skills

    • Use nonverbal communication, when they are present, to help you determine meaning (gestures, signs, body language, etc.)
    • Concentrate on what is familiar and construct the meaning. 
    • Ask for clarification of rephrasing in the target language if possible. 
    • Practice listening in situations that require you to be an active participant. e.g. Making a phone call to schedule an appointment.
  • Speaking skills

    • Pay attention to your pronunciation, but don't obsess over it. 
    • Play with the language to create new ideas, but if it’s complicated, fall back on what you have already studied. 
    • Make mistakes!
    • Use non-verbal communication when you might not have a word.
  • Reading skills

    • Skim the text for general meaning.
    • Try to guess the meaning from the context of the text. 
    • Summarize the main ideas of the text. What did you get from it?
  • Writing skills

    • Apply the same strategies that you use to write in English.
    • Use the target language to organize, draft and write.  
    • Focus on what you have learned and practiced. 
    • Use the dictionary appropriately (use context, parts of speech, etc.).

Learning community

  • Learning a language doesn’t happen in a vacuum. It’s a process that needs to happen within a group, or between two speakers at a minimum. You need a community around you to be a successful language learner. Your community of learners will push you to communicate and to improve.  Without them, learning a language can feel like a pretty sterile exercise in grammar and vocabulary.
  • Some tips for forming an online learning community  
    • Communicate with your classmates! Who are the other students? Are they like you? Do you have any shared interests? Do they already know the material? 
    • Participate in the community forum of your course to ask questions or chat about the course content. 
    • Remember that language learning is a social process. 
    • Your willingness to interact and pursue connections with your classmates will affect how much you learn and how fast you learn it.

Get help and resources

There are several ways to get help for your online course.

(Note, your instructor may have preferences on the way that you seek help; If so, please follow their guidelines.)

Your instructor

Please email your instructor with information regarding any technical problems that you may be having in the course.  He or she should be contacted no matter what, since sometimes "technical problems" are simply miscommunications that can be easily resolved.  In other instances, the instructor can address the problem behind the scenes or point you to the correct place to get help.

ASU Help Desk

  • Help with anything associated with ASU, including technical questions about Canvas, etc.
  • Available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week (including phone and chat support).
  • Talk to, or text/chat with, a live ASU University Technology Office staff member, find help articles and file a Help Desk ticket.
  • Your instructor may also have placed a Help Desk chat widget in your Canvas shell.
    • Go to your My ASU page (, choose "Help" at the top of the page, and then search the "ASU Knowledge Base" or get "Immediate Help".

ASU Libraries

Watch videos online, search for and borrow books and other materials, access research materials, chat with a librarian, etc.

Visit ASU Libraries

SILC Learning Support Services

  • "Technology-Focused" support for learning.
  • Access to tutoring, audio recorders and other equipment, computers with headsets, printing, large screen workstations, "One Button" video studio (mOBS), whiteboards, small group tables, etc.  
  • Any time LSS is open, there is a student worker available to help you.  Ask them anything.  If they cannot help you, they should be able to point you in the right direction.

Visit LSS for students