Experiences for English Language Teaching

Tag: EFL (Page 1 of 3)

Online Teaching Tip: The Webcam

In my last online teaching tip post, I looked at the use of Wheel of Names for developing student conversation skills. In this post, I will be looking at webcams and how best to make the use of it with your online lessons.

Step 1: Buying An External Webcam

If you are using a laptop, then chances are you have a built-in webcam included with it. However, the quality of the webcam is likely to be rather questionable and I would always recommend that you consider purchasing a dedicated webcam that connects to your laptop or desktop for use with your online lessons. Here are my suggestions:

  • Logitech C920 HD Pro Webcam: this is a good quality webcam at 1080p that can be doubled as a microphone, and it is priced at £59.99
  • Logitech Brio Stream Webcam: although the C920 webcam is at 1080p, the Brio webcam is at 4k but is currently priced at £159.04
  • Razer Kiyo: this is a budget webcam which combines the use of a ring light and offering a resolution of 1080p, being priced at £54.99
  • Sony ZV-1 and Canon G7 X MIII: for those that wish to combine video making and use the dedicated camera as a webcam, then the solution is to purchase the Sony ZV-1 or Canon G7 X MIII, each with a price tag of £694.61 and £649.00 respectively. Each camera could be used if you are keen on photography or taking those holiday snaps or videos too

Step 2: Using A Ring Light

If you purchase a webcam which does not include a ring light (much like the Razer Kiyo), then you will discover that during darker periods of the year will impact the quality of the webcam footage. Should you wish to improve the quality of your webcam footage, a ring light would be ideal. These are some suggested investments for your home office:

  • Gskaiwen 18″ Ring Light: this is an affordable ring light for those that wish to improve the lighting with their webcam and is priced at £44.99
  • UBeesize 10″ LED Ring Light: this is one alternative ring light that you could purchase which could be used in conjunction with your webcam and is priced at £95.67
  • Elgato Ring Light: this is the more expensive alternative of ring light that is available for those that wish to improve the overall quality with a dedicated webcam or camera, but it is currently priced at £176.48

If you don’t wish to invest in a ring light, then the alternative is to get a lamp or portable light and place it behind your computer monitor or webcam.

Step 3: Look at the Webcam

When you start teaching it is natural to look at the computer monitor when talking to others, but people will notice that your sight will be focused either below the embedded webcam or away from the external webcam. Therefore, it is highly recommended that you remind yourself to look at the camera as much as possible when speaking, as listeners will feel that you are talking to them. It is natural to look at yourself on screen when teaching remotely, but the more you train yourself to keep your eye level at the camera, the more you will improve engagement with students.

Step 4: Remote Gestures

Using gestures need not be difficult

If you are standing in the classroom, it makes sense to use a variety of gestures when providing instructions or responding to students. Thus, it is important to maintain these when teaching remotely. If the connection drops a little and you do not hear exactly what the student uttered, then respond naturally and ask them to repeat but using a variety of gestures to accompany such a request. If you cannot hear what someone is saying or they are on mute gesture to your ear and explain you are unable to hear them. Just because you are not in the classroom does not mean you do not have to drop such gestures.


Thank you for reading today’s brief blog post and I hope it was helpful. If you have any ideas about using the webcam effectively in your classroom, please do not hesitate to share in the comments.

Online Teaching Tip: Conversation Questions

Getting students to communicate and practise speaking in English remotely can be quite a challenge. Here is a quick idea for getting students speaking and using questions as prompts.

Step 1: Create the prompts

Go to the website Wheel of Names and type in some questions which could be used as prompts.

You could use some prompts to get students speaking

Step 2: Share the questions

Share the question prompts with your students using the shareable function on the website, and place students into breakout rooms on Zoom. Tell students that they have a ten minutes to discuss the questions and report back when they return to the main room.

Sharing the question prompts is pretty simple

Step 3: Review questions and scaffold

Nominate students to summarise their discussions and possibly select students to share the questions that they asked. It would be a good idea to review question formation and scaffold language where required.

Elicit possible full question forms from students and scaffold language where necessary

I hope that this blog post was useful for your online classes and gives you some idea for future conversation prompts for your students. If you have ideas that you would like to suggest, please share in the comments.

An Honest Review of Teaching via Preply

For the past few months, I have been teaching via the platform ‘Preply tutoring private students in my free-time. When I first registered, back in 2016, it took me 5 years to finally create a profile promoting myself as an English tutor. After my profile went live a few months ago, I thought it would be time to share an honest opinion of this platform.

In this post, I shall share both the advantages, the drawbacks and my overall conclusions about finding students and teaching via Preply.

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Online English Teaching in China is Over

It has been quite a lucrative time for many English teachers who sought to supplement their income by working with private online English educational providers based in China. I started working with a Chinese-based organisation back in 2015 and continued until last year. However, in the past few months, many Chinese-based English institutes have witnessed a huge crackdown on the English tutoring industry which has affected many.

What are the changes?

The Chinese Government has implemented many changes and essentially this includes the following:

  • Online English lessons must be limited to 30 minutes
  • Online lessons cannot be taken after 9:00 p.m. Beijing time
  • No online classes can be taken during weekends, holidays and school breaks
  • Off-campus tutoring (education not happening in the public school system) shall not include overseas education courses
  • There will be a ban on hiring foreign teachers who live overseas
  • Companies that offer private instruction will have to register as nonprofits and they will also no longer be able to advertise their programs

Looking at the following recommendations for institutes, it is hard for many organisations to succeed in the Chinese market now – it essentially stops private educational institutes . It has also been reported that Wall Street English in China has declared bankruptcy now with many staff and students being owed millions.

It is unclear where this places those institutes that have partnered up with Chinese institutes, but some Chinese universities have started to cancel their links and joint projects with foreign universities. This is worrying time and begs the question why.

Why is this happening?

If you look at the recommended changes occurring in China, it is not just education which is being affected. There are many policy changes that has been implemented such as children in China (under the age of 18) having a total of 3 hours to play computer games online between Friday to Sunday each week, children being forced to study the thoughts and political ideology of Xi Jinping (the country’s leader), celebrity culture (both foreign or Chinese-based) being banned or Beijing banning western coursebooks from the curriculum. The official narrative is that children in China should not be forced to study at private institutes, and that they should enjoy themselves being children. This is commendable, as I agree that children should enjoy their childhood.

However, I cannot just feel that the changes are a little heavy handed. If I consider the possible implications to forcing children at a young age to study the political philosophies of Xi Jinping or reducing their exposure to Western influences such as music or films, or limiting internet access outside of the country, it is clear that the Chinese authorities are seeking to control what children should learn, what to think, and what to say.

How does this affect English teachers?

With China implementing many changes and online English institutes closing amid the clampdown, the days of earning a supplementary income tutoring children remotely is currently over. It is unclear where the market is heading for adult education as much of the changes affect young learners. Teachers have already started to feel the change with online institutes closing with immediately and freelance educators, who solely relied upon online tutoring with Chinese learners, suddenly finding themselves without an income. It is unclear how many online tutors have been affected, but it could be within the million, with tutors being conveniently based anywhere around the world with just an internet connection.

However, I like to remain optimistic. Parents and adult learners from China who wish to continue their English education will find a way to seek tutors either in-country or abroad. Having started with Preply four months ago, there have been a rising number of Chinese students seeking an English tutor on the platform. I have received many messages from Chinese English learners or parents trying to find a suitable tutor. For material writers who are involved in the Chinese market, I can see this evaporating due to the policy changes.

Finally, there will be a huge number of English teachers, both in China and abroad, seeking alternative employment. The market has now become quite saturated overnight and I would recommend teachers to specialise so that they are able to tutor particular students or prepare them for examinations, as there are still many students from Europe and elsewhere who are still looking for professional tutors.

Reflections as a Young Learner Co-ordinator

It has been over a year since I left my previous position as Young Learner Co-ordinator with a local private language school in my hometown, but was fortunate enough to secure employment with a University soon after leaving. However, I was reading a blog post by Sandy Millin in which she reflects on her 5 years as a Director of Studies, so I thought I would share my reflections for the six years I were a Young Learner Co-ordinator.

What Did I Learn?

Teachers can be unpredictable

When I was promoted to the position of Young Learner Co-ordinator, from English teacher, the majority of staff were very supportive – the Director of Studies, Principal, Directors. However, there were two staff who were not so happy and one person made their opinion heard almost immediately. As the Director of Studies (DoS) held a meeting to share the good news, this person quipped, “We knew this was going to happen!” and the DoS responded, “No, actually we didn’t!”. What other teachers did not realise the Directors offered the position to me to help out during the summer months – more a temporary position – and I responded saying, “Well, if you are offering a position for a few months, I will not accept this and go back to Korea.” A compromise was met and I was offered a full-time permanent position, so agreed to this.

So what did I learn from this?

There will always be people around who would respond more emotionally, and from various situations which occurred, I learned how to manage more demanding staff.

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Teaching Tips: Avoid These Ten Mistakes As A New Teacher

Teaching is regarded as a very noble profession where one can really educate future generations. However, when teachers start their career they usually make some fundamental mistakes. In today’s blog post and video, we look at ten common mistakes new teachers usually make and should avoid. 

Teaching is a very noble profession that shapes the character, caliber, and future of an individual. If the people remember me as a good teacher, that will be the biggest honour for me. (Abdul Kalam)

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CELTA Tips: How To Fail The CELTA Course

Hello and welcome to a new episode of CELTA Tips. Many of my videos on this playlist look at various ways to pass the CELTA but today we are going to look at how to fail the course. You may be wondering why I want to share some ideas on failing the course but I want you to know some things to consider when doing the course so you make sure that you are not doing them.

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Why I Quit My Last Job

There have been quite a few blog posts and articles regarding the working conditions for many private English language schools in the UK and abroad. Most of the constructive feedback regarding the private EFL industry revolve around remuneration, or the lack of it. I wanted to share my experiences of working in the UK EFL industry and what made me quit my permanent job.

I should say that this blog post is not a wholly critical look at the EFL industry but rather (I hope) a balanced view of my experiences and what led up to me leaving my last employers.

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?✍️? Pass The Second CELTA Written Assignment (Part 1) ?✍️?

A few weeks ago, I uploaded a video about the first CELTA assignment. In this post, I look at how to pass the second CELTA assignment. As this is quite a big task, I have split this video up into 2 parts. The first part (below), details what to consider when writing your essay, how best to complete the task as well as what to do if you have to resubmit your assignment.

If you enjoy the video, don’t forget to hit the Subscribe and Like button. When subscribing, click on the notification bell so you know when I upload Part 2 and you are one of the first ones to watch.

See you next week, at 1pm every Monday with a teaching related video.

Happy teaching!

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