Brian and Noelia Fox and their three daughters serve alongside the Comunidades Unidas Anabautistas (the Anabaptist church) in Burgos, Spain. They work with young couples in the church and in the community and nurture new leaders. They also founded the English Academy to build relationships outside the church.
At the beginning of the 2019-2020 school year, we had close to 120 students in our after-school English Academy. Our classes helped students, both young and old, develop their English skills, especially their conversational language abilities. When the COVID-19 pandemic reached our community in March, we had to stop our classes. Initially, we hoped it would be a pause of a couple weeks. Soon, we realized it was going to be much longer.
In response, we began offering online classes in April. We had never done this before. We experienced a few difficulties during the first week, but soon discovered that it wasn't so bad. However, not everyone liked the idea, particularly parents of small children, and we finished the school year with only 40 students.
Now that we are planning for the 2020-2021 school year, we face many uncertainties. For the time being, we are encouraging students to sign up for online classes. For those who want in-person classes, we are waiting until the government issues requirements in September to see what is possible. We are learning to live day by day, focusing on the things we can control, and not worrying about the things we can't.
Teaching English online requires more time trouble-shooting technical difficulties and less time for language learning. Some students also prefer playing games on their cell phones rather than studying. But most students do pay attention, and several have told us that they prefer this new format. An advantage of doing online classes is that we aren't limited to local students and can now welcome participants who live in other parts of Spain.
We still have much to learn about online teaching. Thankfully, the Internet is full of resources to help us make our classes more interesting. As we move forward, we know there will be more challenges. Though we are teachers, we are learning advanced lessons in trusting God day by day.