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Behind the Screen: Lessons Learnt from a Chinese Emergency Remote Teaching Experience in Czech Republic


This study identifies the challenges and positive outcomes from a temporary shift in a Chinese language class to remote delivery format during the COVID-19 pandemic. Teachers’ interviews and students’ online survey were used to describe the experience with “emergency remote education” from both the instructors’ and students’ perspectives. The results indicate students’ varying perception of online learning, reflected in the students’ attention, anxiety, and contentment with the learning process. While technical issues and Chinese character handwriting were identified as the biggest challenges, online consultations via chat and the online submissions of assignments were identified as techniques transferable to face-to-face instruction.


  • Chinese language
  • Emergency remote teaching
  • Online learning

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Fig. 2.1
Fig. 2.2


  1. 1.

    Answers to open-ended descriptive questions were translated from the original Czech or Slovak language.


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Correspondence to Michaela Zahradnikova .

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Appendix 1: Interview Questions

  1. 1.

    Can you describe the teaching process before COVID-19 (in terms of activities, class design, time spent on activities) and what had to be adjusted to the online scheme?

  2. 2.

    What was the biggest challenge of online teaching?

  3. 3.

    Was there any benefit of online education when compared to face-to-face?

  4. 4.

    Are there any activities which could not be done online? How did you substitute them?

  5. 5.

    How did your corrective feedback change?

  6. 6.

    How did you feel about attending to the individual needs of the students?

  7. 7.

    How did you check the general understanding of the class (without seeing the class)?

  8. 8.

    How did you maintain students’ attention? Did students have troubles maintaining attention?

  9. 9.

    How did you substitute games/moving around classroom activities?

  10. 10.

    Were you able to run activities in pairs or groups?

  11. 11.

    How did the testing method change?

  12. 12.

    How did you handle: having no blackboard; stroke order correction; calling on students; giving open public questions; testing active Chinese character knowledge?

  13. 13.

    Is there anything that you would like to transfer from online teaching back to face-to-face teaching?

  14. 14.

    If you had a choice, what type of education would you prefer: online, in-class, combination?

Appendix 2: Online Survey

1.1 Pronunciation

(Select: disagree—mostly disagree—do not know—mostly agree—agree)

1. Online learning did not pay adequate attention to pronunciation.

2. Course instructor corrected my pronunciation sufficiently.

3. I missed watching the instructor’s mouth for pronunciation cues.

4. Instructor’s pronunciation was not clear enough.

5. I feel I made adequate progress in pronunciation.

Did you miss anything in the instruction of pronunciation?

1.2 Chinese characters

(Select: disagree—mostly disagree—do not know—mostly agree—agree)

6. I missed writing characters on the blackboard.

7. I missed watching the teacher or classmates write characters on the blackboard.

8. I missed the explanation on stroke order.

9. I missed the explanation of character components.

10. I missed having my mistakes corrected when writing characters on the blackboard.

11. I do not like writing characters on the blackboard.

12. I missed Chinese character dictations.

Did you miss anything in the instruction of Chinese characters?

1.3 Activities and Attention

(Select: disagree—mostly disagree—do not know—mostly agree—agree)

13. I missed activities in pairs.

14. I missed group activities.

15. I missed games in class.

16. I was able to maintain attention during an online class.

17. Maintaining attention in regular class is easier than online.

18. The teacher paid more attention to me than in regular class.

19. The teacher was not able to correct all my mistakes.

20. I was provided with enough opportunities to speak.

21. Online learning was more intensive than in regular class.

22. Online submission and correction of home assignments work better for me than submitting them in class.

Did you miss anything in terms of language practice?

1.4 Communication

(Select: disagree—mostly disagree—do not know—mostly agree—agree)

23. I missed personal contact with my classmates.

24. I missed personal contact with my teacher.

25. My participation was more proactive than in regular class.

26. Learning online was more stressful than in regular class.

27. Online learning was more comfortable for me than in regular class.

28. I appreciated online consultations through Skype.

29. Skype consultations were more pleasant for me than consultations in person.

30. I felt less constraints asking questions online.

Did you miss anything in the terms of communication?

1.5 Assessment

(select: disagree—mostly disagree—do not know—mostly agree—agree)

31. Online quizzes were easier than in-class quizzes.

32. Online quizzes did not cover the full contents of the lesson.

33. Online quizzes fulfilled the objective of a comprehensive review of the lesson.

34. I used my notes and textbook during the online assessment.

35. I missed handwriting in the online quizzes.

36. Online learning was more time demanding in preparation.

Did you miss anything in the reviewing and assessment?

What was the biggest challenge in online learning for you?

What did you like about online learning?

Is there anything in online learning that you would like to transfer to regular class?

Would you like to maintain online consultations via (multiple choice):


Microsoft Teams



Google hangouts

Google classroom

I do not need online consultations


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Zahradnikova, M. (2022). Behind the Screen: Lessons Learnt from a Chinese Emergency Remote Teaching Experience in Czech Republic. In: Liu, S. (eds) Teaching the Chinese Language Remotely. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.

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