A number of days ago, I asked on Twitter a question about how to go about a task within an online environment. I received a number of practical suggestions including Pete from ELT Planning and Leo Selivan of Leoxicon. This prompted me to record a video (available below) about the suggested applications and review some which I had used in the past.
The task that I was trying to organise within a remote environment required placing headings in order and then matching the descriptions to the headings. A simple enough idea, yeah? In a physical classroom this would work fine, but in an online environment how does one achieve it? Thank you to all who contributed their suggestions.
In this post, I will be sharing a few of the applications that were recommended as well as some of the others that I have used to ensure that lessons are interactive, engaging and memorable.
I have been teaching English online for the past four or five years now with experience teaching students located in South East Asia. This week I received a suggested update to my employment contract which made me rethink working for this company. The company that I had worked with for such an extensive period of time is iTutorGroup.
Teaching online to your learners, whatever the subject, can be a challenge if you have never had any experience of teaching remotely. When I first started teaching online to students from South East Asia, I made so many mistakes and in this post I will be sharing some of the mistakes that I made when teaching English online.
In 2020, many teachers around the world were forced to teach online. However, many were unfamiliar with this area of teaching and spent most of the Spring and Summer terms learning. Personally, I spent the whole of the summer teaching a university pre-sessional course to students resident in numerous countries and I would like to share with you my ideas on what makes an excellent online English teacher. It would be great to hear your thoughts on what makes a great online English teacher in the comments.
When teaching online, it is difficult to replicate different aspects of a physical lesson: classroom management, responding to visual clues from students or incorporating classroom games. In today’s post and video, I share five games you can use for your online English classes.
One of the biggest challenges about finding private students is being able to source them. If you think about traditional ‘brick and mortar’ schools, they have the ability to source students for their language institutes, with the use of agents acting in the interest of the language school. Agents will work on the basis of every student that they send to the school, they will be remunerated 10-30% commission – I have heard some agents in South East Asia receive up to 40% whether a student signs up. Anyhow, with the global pandemic forcing private language schools (particularly in the UK) to close, with many institutes being forced to lay off staff, it makes sense for teachers to source potential English students online. However, how does one find students to teach? In this post, I shall share my tips for sourcing possible English students.
A few weeks ago, Apple announced their new M1 silicone chip with their range of Macs. Essentially, they were updating their range of MacBooks and Mac Mini with the new silicone M1 chip, and removing the Intel chip. In the video above, I share my advice for your next investment.
In the context of COVID, we are sure that you are curious about where the English Language Teaching world is from a teaching perspective? This is a year that has affected all of our lives in so many ways and the effects of COVID have obviously had a major impact on the ELT markets around the world. In short, the ELT industry is still coming to terms with all that has happened this year.
To truly understand where ELT is at the moment, The TEFL Academy went about conducting an in-depth study of the industry as a whole. It is clear from their findings that many people are considering teaching English for the very first time. This is due to the increase in online English teaching English work that is now available, coupled with the emergence of ‘working from home’ being the norm for so many people around the world. Ultimately the closure of in-classroom schools did not cause a decrease in demand for teachers but indeed an increase with schools switching to online learning methods.
The TEFL Academy learned that many of their students and TEFL teachers’ original plans and ambitions have been altered this year. Perhaps your own teaching plans have been changed too? If this is the case, the following 6 findings from the recent survey will be of interest to you and may even surprise you somewhat!
The new norm for language teaching is conducted remotely. It has been thrust upon all practitioners due to circumstances beyond our control, but much of the field of remote teaching and learning has been underestimated prior to the pandemic. I remember a few years ago, I was discussing why online language teaching and learning was not included in the CELTA and one practitioner declared that it was more unregulated with many institutions based in China seeking to exploit language teachers and pay as little as possible.
Over the past week or so, I have been attending some Zoom meetings to prepare and induct for the newly arranged eight week Online Pre-Sessional course, which is to start next Monday. It is very much a new venture for all involved in the online course: students, teachers, convenors and admin staff.
Last week, all those involved attended a meeting to introduce all technology involved with the course. We were expected to become aware of all functions related to Zoom: breakout rooms, polls, chat, etc. This became quite an interesting experience for all end users. The person who organised this is technology and remote learning professional at our University.
The first part of this session looked at the hopes, fears and expectations of the Online Pre-Sessional course. Fears seemed to outweigh many other aspects: “Will I get used to the technology?”, “Will I embarrass myself to the students?”, “What will happen if I can’t use the technology?”. Some of the hopes focused more on being establishing rapport with students, noticing a development with student competency or being available for students during course hours. It was obvious that significant challenges faced by all tutors and students are related to technology and the ‘remoteness’ in relation to the course. We then looked at technological challenges and benefits and this was discussed in breakout rooms via Zoom. Much of what was discussed was demonstrated below.
On top of Zoom meetings, which focus on synchronous lessons, there is also an emphasis on asynchronous learning for students. With our institute, we have started to incorporate Canvas and were encouraged during the initial meeting to record self-introductions and post on the discussion board to students. Then, to encourage students to self-introduce themselves once the course starts. Furthermore, we were recommended to personalise the self-introduction – with the inclusion of hobbies, the place where we live or other aspects about our lives – so that rapport could be established. It appears to be quite invaluable suggestion, but obviously it is most dependent on how much a tutor wishes to share with their cohort of students. Other aspects on Canvas include the Announcements and Inbox, which I have not really used much in the past but I look forward to seeing how much this is integrated during the summer course.
Finally, there were a few considerations for tutors such as not organising a private WhatsApp/WeChat discussion group with the students (I guess there are some privacy-related issues). It was recommended that if students have any issues, that they use the formal channels of communication so that it is transparent and open. Obviously, it was possibly suggested that students could arrange their own private online social groups to help each other or share their own reflections and experiences. There is an assumption that providing learners with a private space would be of benefit and that they are able to liaise among themselves.
Some questions that I have going forward (and I hope to answer in future blog posts) include:
What is the ratio of face-to-face synchronous teaching/learning to asynchronous teaching/learning?
How much work ‘behind the scenes’ will go into synchronous teaching?
How will students respond to this new environment of teaching and learning?
What sort of EAP-related issues will emerge during the course?
This is my only second year as a Pre-Sessional Tutor and I am looking forward to this course as I feel much like a beginner teacher again. I also hope to share another update in the near future about my most recent inductions this week and my plans for next week’s course.