Experiences for English Language Teaching

Tag: Teaching Tips (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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Five Games For Your Online English Classes

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.

Please don’t forget to Subscribe and Like the video
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Online Interview: Off2Class

Off2Class offer online teaching materials for both teachers and students

I was approached by Chris Rush, Content Marketing, from Off2Class to see if I would be able to review their website. I felt that this would not do their website justice, so we agreed to an interview. However, before we dive into the interview, I thought I would take this time to introduce Off2Class.

Looking at their website, they offer online teaching as well as student self-study materials. This is very similar to BreakingNewsEnglish or other teacher or student study material. Perhaps the difference between BreakingNewsEnglish and Off2Class is that the former website is free while the latter is accessible for a small fee. Obviously, I am unable ascertain whether the small monthly fee is value for money as I have been unable to review lessons that are incorporated for online or face-to-face lesson provision. Off2Class also upload English study and teaching related videos on their YouTube Channel but the number of subscribers are hidden from view. Nevertheless, when you visit their website, they offer a free account. Hopefully, this free account offered when registering helps guide possible readers on whether it is a suitable service.

Off2Class offer a Free Account to get you started

Notwithstanding, the opportunity of online language learning and synchronous lesson provision has grown exponentially this year and some inexperienced teachers may feel more secure with the services that Off2Class is able to offer. I do hope that readers are able to make an informed decision with Off2Class and if you have used their lessons and service, then it would great to let other readers know in the comments.

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13 Strategies and Games for Teaching Writing

There’s no wright way to right.

A blank page. Just a question and a word count at the top. You stumble your way through an answer, sheepishly hand it in (with a funny feeling it’s not what your teacher wanted) and have it handed back to you later full of little red lines. Did you really make so many mistakes?

It’s no wonder that some students dislike writing. It’s boring or scary, and sometimes both – like a homemade horror film. But it doesn’t have to be! I actually promise this. There are so many ways to help students think creatively and love writing.

What activities are there to help you and your students get the most out of writing, I hear you cry silently at the computer screen. Weeeelllll … don’t you know it, I have some ideas.

Hang on in there and check out number 11 – it’s a method that will completely transform your students’ writing skills.

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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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How To Make Reading More Engaging

In this quick post, I share five tips to make your reading more engaging and entertaining for your learners. I have also supplemented the post with a video for those that want to watch something for 5 minutes.

Should you enjoy the video, please leave a Like and Subscribe if you haven’t already.

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Teaching With Just a Piece of Paper

The other day, I decided to create, edit and share a video aimed for teachers (with minimal experience) on how to teach with just you and a piece of paper. It seemed to be quite popular and I hope there are some useful tips included within the video. The video is available below and it would be great if you could show your support by Liking and Subscribing to my YouTube Channel. 

If you have any suggestions about future video content, I am all ears as I have a lot of time to create content for you. Take care and stay safe at the moment.

Episode 5: How To Teach A Grammar Auction

A few days ago, I decided for the first time ever to deliver a grammar auction activity to my group of learners. I had never done this activity before but had done variations from it: awarding points for correct answers, etc. In this blog post (and video below), I would like to share my tips to ensure that you are able to deliver a fantastic grammar auction lesson.

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