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Community Team
Community Team

Teaching Language in Canvas

This morning I had occasion to revisit one of my all time favorite Instructurecon presentations - Curt Radford of USU presenting on "Exploring the Efficacy of Online ASL​ Instruction​" and that got me thinking about the challenges and opportunities of teaching language via Canvas in more general terms.   Do you teach language online?  If so, do you use Canvas and how specifically?  Have you heard of online language instruction techniques and examples that are especially effective (or were perhaps distasterous)?​

13 Replies
Community Member

Bonjour Scott,

Language teaching/learning - and more precisely sign language learning - is exactly the reason why I left Moodle for Canvas.

After using Moodle in 2014 for a sign language (m)OOC with 4 working languages (from which 2 are sign languages [SL]), and after experiencing a lot of limitations and frustrations, I decided to switch to Canvas.

Here are 3 examples of features I use specifically and enormously appreciate for (sign) languages:

- the ability to record videos directly from within a discussion forum and submit video responses/comments/assessments

- have learners video-answer to a quiz question (requires teacher assessment) or chose the right answer between multiple pre-recorded video responses (in a multiple-choice test)

- use code-snippets to add a hidden translation help (unveiled by hovering over the word that is not understood) - either as text translation [tooltip] or as animated gif [pop-up dialog box]

As to the fact of teaching foreign sign languages online more generally, for me I see it as a great opportunity to:

- provide contact and real interaction possibilities with native signers/foster intercultural communication among Deaf learners

- gather Deaf peers to learn together and from each other (a rare luxury in times of mainstream...)

- offer a subject that usually is completely left out (foreign SIGN language & culture)

- address Deaf-specific topics that are usually left out in every foreign language textbook

- exploit all the visual potential of ICT to address the specifically Deaf learning&teaching strategies and create Deaf e-(learning) Spaces (I am writing my PhD about this)

By the way, I am really looking forward to exchange with other people here who create/use signing courses on Canvas - whatever the subject is. Especially of course with the Deaf instructional designers among you 🙂

Thank you, Janel.  I'm looking forward to hearing about your experiences as the summer progresses.


We have some of our blended/hybrid language courses going online for the first time this summer in Canvas so I will have to report back. Canvas features such as being able to easily submit audio/video recordings as assignments or in discussions, and built in ways to give verbal feedback to students are essential to our language courses. We also can use Adobe Connect or Big Blue button for any synchronous sessions but these courses are designed to be asynchronous. One challenge is that the French & Italian courses use an external site from Pearson (MyLanguageLab) for their textbook so students have to work in two spaces (all of the textbook/workbook activities and tests are housed in this other site that are linked from within Canvas) but it is still another system that students have to get used to and grades are maintained in the Canvas space.