(Turn and face the strange)
(Just gonna have to be a different man)

David Bowie

Evolution, adaptation, mutation, these are all a natural part of life, and languages are no exception. I was struck with one change recently while watching American news when I heard a presenter use the term “Latinx”. Immediately, I Googled it and discovered that it is a new, neutral term to describe people of Latin American origins, avoiding the gender terms of Latino, Latino, Latinos and Latinas and creating a new term to cover them all.

Needless to say, I went through many changes on a professional level during the first half of 2020. I arrived at the FUB in January, eager to start on a new adventure in my career as an educator. A new boss, a new team, new students with different learning objectives− the world was my oyster. Then Covid-19 entered the picture, and the world was flipped upside-down. People had to work from home, teachers had to teach from home and students had to learn from home. For the past couple of decades, learning online had become increasingly more popular, yet all of a sudden, everyone was forced to become active participants in this particular methodology. It was nuts.

However, as American journalist and author, Jeannette Walls, once said, “Sometimes you need a little crisis to get your adrenaline flowing and help you realize your potential.” As I saw among the teaching staff at the Servei d’Idiomes Umanresa, every single teacher faced this daunting challenge of switching to a new medium and did their utmost to provide quality learning to all of their students even if it meant marking writing assignments from a photo sent on Whatsapp or extending a video conferencing session due to poor Wifi connections. They posted, they conferenced, they evolved.

Most students also stepped up their game. There were those who were not very tech savvy, but they did their all to learn how to hand-in writing assignments on the moodle, record themselves speaking and connect to an online conference when the most technological thing they had done before was check their email. Although some students were uncomfortable with the change from onsite to online classes, they all recognised that it was due to the circumstances and did not blame the staff nor the teachers. For this, I am personally grateful to each and every student who understandingly managed the change and learned as much as they could in an environment to which they were not accustomed. In other words, I am thankful that they adapted.

This leaves us with mutating. No, nobody is about to sprout a second head or become a ninja turtle. It is education itself which is mutating. Due to the circumstances around the coronavirus, we have seen and are still seeing the ways in which education must move forward. Experts say that society may not return back to normal in a long time, and that in fact, there will most likely be a new normal. As a result, education must be like the new term “Latinx”. We must take the old methodologies: onsite, online, blended, flipped classroom, etc. and come up with something new, something which will cover them all. I believe we can all rise to the occasion.

Thanks for reading and have a safe and happy summer!

Nancy Lee, responsable del Servei d’Idiomes d’UManresa

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