Blog | English Language Learning | Centre For Excellence

Overcoming Barriers to Online English Language Learning

  • Overcoming Barriers to Online English Language Learning

The following blog post was written by Glen Cochrane, a faculty member at the Centre for Excellence in Immigrant and Intercultural Advancement.

In November 2016, the CEIIA launched the eLearning Toolkit, an online resource to support English language learning (ELL) online. Many educators from around Alberta have visited and explored the resource. We have hosted several face-to-face workshops and webinars, and ELL practitioners have been commenting on how the resource will fit into their own working context.

In the feedback from these sessions we received some questions about the different barriers to online language learning. In the toolkit, we have tried to frame many of the problems of online ELL through three lenses: Access, Communication, Engagement.


Language learners require support to access digital spaces and learning technology. Spaces should be free from clutter and notifications to avoid language and literacy confusion.


Clear communication is essential for online ELL to reduce learner cognitive load and feelings of frustration.


Learners need to be active and engaged, or else they will easily fall into passive habits as they progress through a course or activity. Engagement will foster community, where learners can use and practice their language skills in comfort.

The eLearning Toolkit is a resource to help language educators adapt and use online spaces in many types of online and blended environments. For teachers who use technology to interact with learners, or to supplement their class, the toolkit provides resources to browse and use. We have two more upcoming webinars. Sign up for the one that best suits your schedule:

January 26, 4:00 - 5:00 pm MT

January 31, 1:00 - 2:00 pm MT