CercleS survey: Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on foreign language teaching in higher education

Katarína Zamborová, Isabella Stefanutti, Blanka Klimová

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13 Citations (SciVal)


The pandemic may well have totally changed the way foreign languages are now being taught. In March 2020 language centres (LCs) in universities needed to adjust abruptly to online teaching with minimal resources or training for teachers. Research on the topic of the impact of the pandemic on teaching started from Day 1 and to date there have been contradictions about whether online learning is effective. The CercleS survey aims to study teachers' reflections on teaching during the pandemic and on the future of foreign language instruction in Higher Education (HE). Data were collected between March 30 and May 5, 2021, and the answers reflect the voices of 725 teachers from CercleS national associations. The findings indicate that the teachers moved flexibly into the online mode of teaching despite limitations in technological resources and the absence of training: 32.4% of the respondents declared no hardware was provided by their institution for working from home and 40.6% were not relieved from other duties. However, 66% of the teachers reported that the learning outcomes were met by modifying specific assessment criteria. Simultaneous group dynamics seemed difficult to achieve in the online format in comparison to face-to-face interactions in the traditional classroom. The acquisition of language skills, mainly speaking, was a challenge. Generally, the respondents see the benefits of a blended/hybrid mode of instruction. Implications for teaching practices and stakeholders are as follows: develop guidelines defining criteria for different formats of delivery in language education, develop workshops for teachers, negotiate conditions needed to carry out efficient and sustainable language teaching with university executive boards, offer training for sustainable online and hybrid teaching and maintain, and develop international collaboration between LCs in HE (e.g. virtual exchange, staff exchange, virtual international classrooms).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)269-283
Number of pages15
JournalLanguage Learning in Higher Education
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 26 Oct 2021


  • COVID-19 pandemic
  • Language centres
  • Online teaching/learning
  • Teachers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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