The COVID-19 pandemic has caused teachers and students to abandon their physical classrooms and move into emergency distance education (EDE) settings. Thus, sustaining the quality in education has become a challenge during this transitional period. Within this context, the aim of this study was to explore the impact of EDE on language skills development (reading, writing, listening, and speaking) of Turkish pre-service teachers of English as a foreign language (EFL). In this qualitative study, data were gathered from 118 pre-service EFL teachers about the advantages and disadvantages of EDE for their language skills development. Thematic analysis was used as a research design, and nine themes emerged for both advantages and disadvantages. The most important two themes for both categories are content and implementation of online courses and teacher’s role. This study pinpointed the eminence of these two themes, for if they are emphasized enough and handled efficiently, they play a huge role in developing language skills. The themes and sub-themes generated through thematic analysis showed the advantages and disadvantages of EDE for each skill in detail and also proved that EDE was most advantageous for writing skill and least advantageous for speaking skill. The participants stated that, since writing skill was constantly used for almost all homework, assignments and projects, that skill was nurtured the most. Nevertheless, speaking skill was ignored during online courses, and writing became the new mode of communication by replacing speaking. The outcome of the present study encourages preparedness for EDE against a possible second wave. Thus, the study is hoped to pave the way for anticipating issues and developing solutions for EDE contexts to preserve sustainability in higher education.
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