After several years of experimenting with “hybrid” Spanish courses that mix online and classroom instruction, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has decided to begin conducting its introductory Spanish course exclusively on the Web.
Spanish 101, which had featured online lessons combined with one classroom session per week, will drop its face-to-face component in an effort to save on teaching costs and campus space in light of rising demand for Spanish instruction and a shrinking departmental budget.
Foreign language classes, like those in just about every subject area, have of course been offered online for years. And online courses have become a key way for some languages to be taught at smaller colleges that might not produce enough students to fill a section. … Advocates for such courses have generally said that they are essential when in-person instruction wouldn’t otherwise take place. What makes Chapel Hill’s announcement notable is that it’s about Spanish. And if there is one foreign language at American colleges and universities that never struggles to produce demand for in-person sections, it is Spanish.
Under the new system, a single professor would preside over four sections of the class, with support from graduate assistants. …
department officials said they don’t expect the online-only format to hamper learning.
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