Future-Proofing Language Teaching

How the COVID-19 Pandemic Has Changed Our Profession


  • Ursula Stickler The Open University
  • Martina Emke Bielefeld University of Applied Sciences and Arts




technology, online teaching, language teacher role, future language education


This article explores the future of language teaching in the light of recent developments. It is set against the background of the COVID-19 pandemic, which accelerated technology-related changes within the field. The article outlines factors that have contributed to a shift in the role of language teachers, followed by a depiction of the transformation observed at three distinct points in time during the pandemic. Trends in the changes are drawn from the data with the help of direct quotes, categories of responses, and vignettes representing aggregated language teacher voices. Finally, based on the uncovered trends, we outline reasons for being optimistic about the future of our profession, and provide recommendations for language teachers and language educators to take charge of developments to co-create possible futures for our roles in the profession.

Author Biographies

  • Ursula Stickler, The Open University

    Ursula Stickler is Senior Lecturer in German in the School of Languages and Applied Linguistics at the Open University (UK). Her work entails creating distance teaching materials for language learners, from beginner to graduate levels; training language teachers in the use of technology and in online teaching; and supervising doctoral students. The focus of her research is online language teaching and learning. Her recent publications include Language Learning and Technology (CUP) and Online Language Teaching: Crises and Creativities (Castledown), co-edited with Martina Emke.

  • Martina Emke, Bielefeld University of Applied Sciences and Arts

    Martina Emke coordinates the academic staff development program for Netzwerk hdw nrw, an association of 20 universities of applied sciences in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. Martina has worked as a teacher educator, project co-coordinator, and materials developer on several projects for the European Centre for Modern Languages (ECML). She is the co-editor with Ursula Stickler of the Castledown book series Developing Online Language Pedagogies. Martina’s research interests include posthuman digital education, networked learning, and the use of social media in language teaching and learning.


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How to Cite

Stickler, U., & Emke, M. (2023). Future-Proofing Language Teaching: How the COVID-19 Pandemic Has Changed Our Profession. CALICO Journal, 40(2), 137-152. https://doi.org/10.1558/cj.26204