Document Type : Research Paper


Dept. of English Language and Literature Faculty of Humanities Golestan University, Gorgan, Iran


During the COVID-19 pandemic, faculty members and students had to leave their face-to-face (FTF) classes and move into emergency distance education (EDE) contexts. Due to this drastic change in the system of education, investigating the probable effects of EDE on the quality of education seems essential. As such, this study has attempted to probe the effect of EDE on the language skills of Iranian EFL students. To do so, drawing on the maximum variation sampling, the present study embarked on a qualitative descriptive research method, triangulating data through written open-ended questionnaires and semi-structured interviews to collect data from 170 EFL students from different universities in Iran. The sample included BA students majoring in Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) and English Literature, aged above 18. Using Thematic Analysis (TA), students’ responses were transcribed, codified, and interpreted. The findings of TA revealed that along with several disadvantages and challenges that Iranian EFL students experienced in EDE with regard to learning English language skills, EDE provided some opportunities and benefits for their learning. The analysis of students’ responses also indicated that they deemed speaking skill as the most negatively influenced language skill and listening skill as the most positively affected skill. Furthermore, the findings represented that most of the students held teachers and administrators responsible for the problems and challenges they experienced in EDE contexts. The findings of the present study can encourage administrators, teachers, and students to prepare themselves for EDE against the possible subsequent waves.


Main Subjects

Ahmadi, S. D., & Marandi, S. S. (2014). The effect of using the social tool of wikis on EFL learners’ writing performance. Interaction5(37), 171–178.
Ary, D., Jacobs, L. C., Irvine, C. K. S., & Walker, D. (2018). Introduction to research in education (10thed.).  Cengage Learning.
Baniabdelrahman, A. A. (2013). Effect of using Internet tools on enhancing EFL students’ speaking skill. Journal of Contemporary Research3(6), 79–87.
Baralt, M. (2012). Coding qualitative data. In A. Mackey & S. M. Gass (Eds.), Research methods in second language acquisition (pp. 222–244). Blackwell.
Bataineh, R. F., &Mayyas, M. B. (2017). The utility of blended learning in EFL reading and grammar: A case for Moodle. Teaching English with Technology17(3), 35–49.
Biasutti, M. (2015). Creativity in virtual spaces: Communication modes employed during collaborative online music composition. Thinking Skills and Creativity17(1), 117–129.
Birt, L., Scott, S., Cavers, D., Campbell, C., & Walter, F. (2016). Member checking: a tool to enhance trustworthiness or merely a nod to validation. Qualitative Health Research26(13), 1802–1811.
Bozkurt, A., & Sharma, R. C. (2020). Emergency remote teaching in a time of global crisis due to CoronaVirus pandemic. Asian Journal of Distance Education15(1), 1–6.
Braun, V., & Clarke, V. (2006). Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qualitative Research in Psychology3(2), 77–101.
Cain, D. L., Marrara, C., Pitre, P. E., &Armour, S. (2007). Support services that matter: An exploration of the experiences and needs of graduate students in a distance learning environment. International Journal of E-Learning & Distance Education/Revue18(1), 42–56.
Carver, L. B. (2020). Supporting learners in a time of crisis. Advances in Social Sciences Research Journal7(4), 129–136.
Coeckelbergh, M. (2020). The post-digital in pandemic times: A comment on the Covid-19 crisis and its political epistemologies. Post-digital Science and Education2(3), 547–550.
Davis, N. L., Gough, M., & Taylor, L. L. (2019). Online teaching: Advantages, obstacles, and tools for getting it right. Journal of Teaching in Travel & Tourism19(3), 256–263.
Ebadi, S., &Rahimi, M. (2017). Exploring the impact of online peer-editing using Google Docs on EFL learners’ academic writing skills: A mixed-methods study. Computer Assisted Language Learning30(8), 787–815.
Ebadi, S., &Rahimi, M. (2018). An exploration into the impact of WebQuest-based classroom on EFL learners’ critical thinking and academic writing skills: A mixed-methods study. Computer Assisted Language Learning31(5), 617–651.
Fathi, J., & Rahimi, M. (2020). Examining the impact of the flipped classroom on writing complexity, accuracy, and fluency: A case of EFL students. Computer Assisted Language Learning, 1–39.
Friedman, D. A. (2012). How to collect and analyze qualitative data. In A. Mackey & S. M. Gass (Eds.), Research methods in second language acquisition (pp. 180–200). Blackwell.
Gao, L. X., & Zhang, L. J. (2020). Teacher learning in difficult times: Examining foreign language teachers’ cognitions about online teaching to tide over COVID-19. Frontiers in Psychology11(1), 2396.
Ghahari, S., &Ameri-Golestan, A. (2013). The effect of blended learning vs. classroom learning techniques on Iranian EFL learners’ writing. International Journal of Foreign Language Teaching and Research1(3), 77–86.
Ghazizadeh, T., & Fatemipour, H. (2017). The effect of blended learning on EFL learners’ reading proficiency. Journal of Language Teaching and Research8(3), 606–614.
Hamouda, A. (2020). The effect of virtual classes on Saudi EFL students’ speaking skills. International Journal of Linguistics, Literature and Translation3(4), 175–204.
Hodges, C., Moore, S., Lockee, B., Trust, T., & Bond, A. (2020). The difference between emergency remote teaching and online learning. Educause Review27(1), 1–12.
Hosseinpour, N., Biria, R., &Rezvani, E. (2019). Promoting academic writing proficiency of Iranian EFL learners through blended learning. Turkish Online Journal of Distance Education20(4), 99–116.
Karataş, T. Ö., &Tuncer, H. (2020). Sustaining language skills development of pre-service EFL teachers despite the COVID-19 interruption: A case of emergency distance education. Sustainability, 12(19), 1–34.
Marandi, S. S., &Nami, F. (2012). Web-Based writing lessons in EFL contexts: Instruction on coherent writing. Journal of Studies in Learning and Teaching English1(2), 105–136.
Moser, K. M., Wei, T., & Brenner, D. (2021). Remote teaching during COVID-19: Implications from a national survey of language educators. System97(1).
Nassaji, H. (2020). Good qualitative research. Language Teaching Research, 24(4), 427–431.
Patton, M. Q. (2015). Qualitative research & evaluation methods: Integrating theory and practice (4thed.). Sage.
Payne, J. S. (2020). Developing L2 productive language skills online and the strategic use of instructional tools. Foreign Language Annals53(2), 243–249.
Pei, T., &Suwanthep, J. (2019). Effects of web-based metacognitive listening on Chinese university EFL learners' listening comprehension and metacognitive awareness. Indonesian Journal of Applied Linguistics9(2), 480–492.
Riazi, A. M. (2016). The Routledge encyclopedia of research methods in applied linguistics. Routledge.
Rolfe, G. (2006). Validity, trustworthiness and rigor: Quality and the idea of qualitative research. Journal of Advanced Nursing53(3), 304–310.
Roth, C., &Suppasetseree, S. (2016). Flipped classroom: Can it enhance English listening comprehension for pre-university students in Cambodia. Proceedings of Classic. Cambodia.
Shahnama, M., Yazdanmehr, E., & Elahi Shirvan, M. (2021). Challenges of online teaching during the COVID-19 pandemic in an English as a foreign language (EFL) context: A process-tracing approach. Research Square.
Shams-Abadi, B. B., Ahmadi, S. D., &Mehrdad, A. G. (2015). The effect of Edmodo on EFL learners’ writing performance. International Journal of Educational Investigations2(2), 88–97.
Sithole, A., Mupinga, D. M., Kibirige, J. S., Manyanga, F., &Bucklein, B. K. (2019). Expectations, challenges and suggestions for faculty teaching online courses in higher education. International Journal of Online Pedagogy and Course Design (IJOPCD)9(1), 62–77.
Toquero, C. M. (2021). Emergency remote education experiment amid COVID-19 pandemic. International Journal of Educational Research and Innovation (IJERI), 1(15), 162–176.
Walther, A. (2020). From responsive to adaptive and interactive materials and materials systems: A roadmap. Advanced Materials,32(20).
Williamson, B., Eynon, R., & Potter, J. (2020). Pandemic politics, pedagogies and practices: digital technologies and distance education during the coronavirus emergency. Learning, Media, and Technology,45(2), 107–114.
Wulandari, M. (2019). Improving EFL learners’ speaking proficiency through Instagram vlog. LLT Journal: A Journal on Language and Language Teaching22(1), 111–125.
Zhou, L., Wu, S., Zhou, M., & Li, F. (2020). School’s out, but class’ on', the largest online education in the world today: Taking China’s practical exploration during the COVID-19 epidemic prevention and control as an example. Best Evidence of Chinese Education, 4(2), 501–519.