Experiences of an English Language Teacher

Developing Materials for Online Lessons

Welcome to another daily blog post where I look at another aspect of online lessons, and today I am look at develop materials for remote purposes. In this post, I’ll be sharing personal thoughts that I have regarding the creation of materials more suitable for online lessons.

One of the biggest challenges faced by tutors moving from a physical classroom to a remote environment, or possibly newly certified English language teachers, is the development of materials for potential online lessons. Essentially, teaching material should be engaging, memorable, and accessible, which helps supplement the overall aims and strategies of the lesson.

Tip 1: Source Images

Material in the physical classroom, we tend to use a variety of images to help supplement engagement. Much as images are used for various purposes in the physical classroom, teachers should recognise that pictures can be used within an online environment. It is important to find images which have a Creative Commons License – essentially allowing images to be freely distributed. Some websites that I would recommend include: ELT Pics (or you could view their Flickr Sets), Unsplash or Google Images – just make sure that you check the settings for allowing distribution to be available via the Creative Commons License.

There are many tasks that teachers could incorporate images with their lessons, and rather than reinventing the wheel, there is a wonderful video by International House (please see above) that provides some inspiration. Please check this out!

Tip 2: Create Matching Tasks

Another thought about engaging and motivating activities in relation to material and online lessons is the task itself. Matching exercises are nothing new and it is the staple of many a good lesson in the physical classroom. One thing that is often overlooked within the remote classroom, is the opportunity for matching: matching text to pictures, matching words to their antonyms or synonyms, matching phonemic spelling to the words, as well as matching the well known word to the gap. There are many tasks that a teacher could incorporate with their online lessons, so be as creative as possible for the benefit of the students!

Tip 3: Add Links to Video and Audio

The benefits of wholly digitally material is the opportunity to link (and embed) both audio and video into material. Rather than attempting to search while teaching, if you have added links to all necessary and corresponding video or audio will help you save time. It is important to keep an eye on whether links are relevant: YouTube videos as well as other links can become unavailable over time.

If you are struggling to incorporate listening within your remote lessons, there is a wonderful video by CUP ELT, where Gaby Lawson shares some practical tips for teaching listening in your classroom. Some personal favourites include raising pronunciation awareness, recognising connective speech and dictation tasks.

Tip 4: Keep A Cloud Copy

It seems rather obvious when it comes down to technology, but it is important to keep a copy of all material that you develop and create. There are many cloud services available where you could upload material: Google Drive and Dropbox are the two most freely available services. I tend to keep a local copy on my laptop, create a backup on an external drive and then upload to Google Drive. It seems a little too much, but you never know as both your laptop hard drive could fail, as well as the backup. Should both fail, you will have access to the cloud service and all files could be downloaded.

Hopefully, this post provides some further ideas about teaching and developing material for your lessons. See you tomorrow with another daily post! How many days will this blogging last? I have no idea!


  1. Lawrence

    Hi Martin,
    Please could you tell me what is the program that is displayed in the matching task section?

  2. To those who teach the early years, I suggest instead of spending time developing materials for online use, source them. For example, Twinkl has a huge library of resources that include powerpoint games to interactive quizzes.

    Freepik is another image sourcing site that I personally use.

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