Document Type


Date of Degree

Spring 2018

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Teaching and Learning

First Advisor

Schrier, Leslie

First Committee Member

Wesely, Pamela M

Second Committee Member

Plakans, Lia M

Third Committee Member

DeVane, Benjamin M

Fourth Committee Member

Priest, Jacob B


This study focused on investigating the background, experiences, challenges and training of current online language teachers. An online survey was sent and completed by a total of 264 current online language teachers consisting of a total of 40 questions. Findings show online language teachers are highly experienced in face-to-face classrooms as reported by their years of experience and level of their advanced degrees but typically have less than five years of experience teaching online. They also teach in a variety of contexts including grade levels from early childhood education to adult education; in twenty different countries around the world; as well as twenty languages from commonly taught to less-commonly taught languages. The majority of respondents reported participation in some form of training for teaching online with just over half indicating they had participated in training focused on teaching language online. The area respondents reported having the most training in was technology with assistive technology and professional practice as areas where they report the least amount of training. The most common provider of training was an employer with formats that ranged from a one-time session to ongoing training. Data suggest the practice areas current online language teachers struggle with most in teaching language online are: technology, student autonomy and online language pedagogy. Preferences for professional development in meeting challenges were primarily dependent on if a respondent expressed having a challenge ‘to a great extent’ or ‘to some extent’ with respondents in the former generally preferring structured and the latter unstructured professional development. In suggesting recommendations for training individuals to teach language online, respondents reported that online pedagogy and online language pedagogy should be covered in formal teacher preparation programs in addition to the typically covered areas of technology and facilitation. Relationships across grade levels and languages taught are presented using chi-squared and Fisher’s exact tests of significance, independent sample t-tests as well as binary linear regression are utilized in exploring the strength of the relationships among the variables in the present study. The study concludes with a discussion of the educational and theoretical implications and directions for future research.


Distance Education, Language Teaching, Online Education, Professional Development, Teacher Training


xix, 251 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 239-251).


Copyright © 2018 Elizabeth Plummer