Addressing the Burden of Inquiries for English-as-a-Foreign-L ...

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This pedagogical study performed a comparative analysis of student inquiry emails in a self-access English-as-a-foreign-language vocabulary course before and during the COVID-19 pandemic and aimed to devise measures to reduce the volume of inquiries. During the pandemic, the number of inquiries increased considerably because of the university-wide shift to online courses. This not only caused frustration for students but also increased the burden on teachers to respond to these inquiries. Our data indicated the need to envision different approaches to handling inquiries because the causes of the inquiries before and during the pandemic varied considerably. Based on the results of the Pareto analysis, we devised a set of measures focusing on the four causes of inquiries: (1) missing or misunderstanding teacher instructions, (2) applications and reports for retaking tests, (3) reporting problems or asking questions on the operation of information and communications technology (ICT), and (4) wrong choices of contact points.