I have decided to start a weekly livestream which is currently on Mondays at 1pm (UK time) to answer questions that others may have about teaching online, tips for teaching English or address any thoughts or opinions that you may have. Today marked the second week (hence Episode 2) and decided to do something that may resonate with other teachers.
The first week, I had some technical issues which meant I started at a later time – 30 minutes to be precise. I never realised that streaming via my MacBook would be so complicated. I was relying upon using my Sony ZV-1 as a webcam but YouTube Studio had issues recognising this, so I had to end up using OBS to stream. To eventually get everything working took 30 minutes to resolve.
This week, I started Episode 2 of Teacher Talking Time but noticed something quite odd after the livestream. I realised that the scheduled stream did not connect with OBS – I made a mistake and learned afterwards what I must do. However in Episode 2, I was able to share my screen and used this function quite regularly during the livestream. I will use this function in next week’s episode. It was great to answer questions from viewers and share a corresponding website to answer their queries. I also created a countdown timer on one screen but be sure not to watch the timer and skip the first 5 minutes of the video below.
Hopefully from Episode 3, I will be able to use the correct scheduled link for the livestream rather than creating a new link. It would also be wonderful to get another teacher to join the livestream in the future but I will have to see how best to stream a Zoom call or other tool. If there are any other English teachers who have experience of streaming and inviting a guest to virtually join this, then it would be great to hear your advice. Another area that I would like to develop is to share particular questions on the screen asked by those in the stream. I would need to improve my knowledge of OBS and create more scenes in the future.
As ever a huge thanks to all who have contributed past and current livestreams and if any readers have questions about streaming and using OBS, then please let me know.
One of the most challenging aspects of teaching online is maintaining learner engagement and interest. Within a physical classroom, teachers achieve this by incorporating a variety of games and activities throughout the lesson. However, this is much harder in a remote environment. In this post, I will be sharing three games that you could use with your online lessons immediately, which require little to no preparation, to boost student engagement and interest.
Game 1: Pictionary
One popular game with learners of any age is Pictionary. If you are unfamiliar with this activity, it involves sharing a word to a student that has been taught in a previous lesson or has just been taught. The student then has to draw a picture on the physical whiteboard – no words or numbers can be used – and other students have to guess the word that has been drawn. It encourages students to be creative and spontaneous. To add a bit of a competitive edge to the game, you could place students into two groups, add a time limit, and the first group to guess the correct word gains a point. The group with the most amount of points wins the game. But how can this be achieved in an online environment?
With remote classes, teachers could either allow students to use the online whiteboard (if using Zoom) or a shared whiteboard such as Web Whiteboard. Send an individual student a private message with the word that they must draw, start a countdown time (if you wish), and then get the student to share their screen with their whiteboard and other students must use the Chat function in Zoom to send their nominated word. The first student to write the correct word gains a point. An alternative to this is getting students to use a pen and paper to draw and share on their webcam.
Game 2: Odd One Out
This task requires a little more preparation prior to lessons but nothing too different to the classroom activity. You could either prepare a Word document as a worksheet with a range of words or use a PowerPoint with each slide sharing these words (about four to five on each row or slide). An alternative is to use images instead of words. Anyhow, students must work together in small groups to decide on the odd word or image out of all others. Once learners have completed the activity (perhaps with a time limit), then they must describe why certain words or images are the odd one out. Each acceptable description by a group is awarded a point and the group with the most amount of points are the winners.
This activity is a wonderful opportunity for learners to review verbs, lexical sets (fruit, jobs, etc.) or pronunciation patterns. It is best to have this activity at the end of the lesson – the last 20 minutes of an online lesson – while students start to switch off. It will maintain interest and motivation with the class particularly at the end of the lesson, and ensure that learners end their online lesson with a positive.
Game 3: Sentence Maker
The final game that online teachers could incorporate with their online lessons is a familiar for those teachers who wish to review a range of vocabulary from previous lessons. This activity requires just a little preparation from the teacher but if you have been teaching from a coursebook, preparation would be minimal. Choose a range of vocabulary (around fifteen to twenty words) to use and they must have a range of functions (i.e. nouns, verbs, adjectives, etc.). Try to create a worksheet which could be shared with learners, so that they can write down their group sentences.
Tell students that they will be placed into groups of three or fours for five minutes and they must use the vocabulary to create a variety of grammatically correct sentences – possibly demonstrate to learners beforehand so that they know what is expected. Share the worksheet with all learners, place them into breakout rooms, and then wait for all to return. Students share their worksheet with the teacher via the Chat and the teachers provides a point for each sentence which is grammatically correct. You could give an extra point to the sentence which contains the grammar form that was taught during the past few lessons. For example, if you had taught the second conditional and a group created a suitable sentence with the grammar form, then a point could be awarded for the sentence and another for the grammar form included – a total of two points. The group with the most points are the winners.
Those are three possible games that you could incorporate with your future online lessons which require minimal preparation. What games have you used in your online lessons? Have you adapted a tried and tested physical game for the online environment? How did it go? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I was watching a recent YouTube video by Cambridge University Press ELT about the ‘great reset’ with regards to online teaching. What struck me was the fact that more credence is being given towards ‘online teaching’ now, rather than before the pandemic. I remember chatting to some other English teachers and teacher trainers about ‘online teaching’ and enquiring why there could not be an input session about online teaching and language learning during an initial teacher certificate, such as the CELTA or the equivalent. Some reasons that were made included online teaching not being a true form of teaching or it being more a fad, with the majority of organisations – prior to the pandemic – being located in South East Asia. You only have to scroll through the various online teaching companies to notice that the vast majority are located in China, Taiwan or Korea.
A few years later, a number of physical institutions and organisations are having to catch up and compete with online institutions. As well as companies and institutes having to incorporate a change to redress the current emergency, many teachers, who were teaching face-to-face, now find themselves in the position to teach within an online environment. It is my assumption that the vast majority of English teachers and practitioners have had limited experience of teaching within an online environment, let alone learning online. This raises the question: “How can English teachers be qualified to teach English online if they have not been trained?”. Teachers who have completed various qualifications (CELTA, DELTA, etc.) have all focused within a physical classroom environment. Teachers themselves have also not develop the softskills to deliver lesson content online for students and those teachers who have years of experience of teaching synchronously for numerous organisations based in South East Asia, usually unqualified without a CELTA or equivalent, have not been consulted. I should point out now that I am not disregarding how organisations, institutes and professional teachers have responded to the emergency form of teaching, but I am merely wondering whether more can be done.
Nevertheless, the video that I watch (please see above), raised an important point about the difference between ‘remote teaching’ and ‘online teaching’. Ben Goldstein highlighted that there was a clear division both forms which is a good step forwards. However, I disagree with the division of terms above. Personally, ‘remote teaching’ is associated with the location, while ‘online teaching’ is related to the tools to deliver the lesson. You are ‘remote’ from the classroom yet using ‘online’ tools to teach the students. When you teach ‘online’, you are using a variety of both ‘synchronous’ and ‘asynchronous’ tools to deliver content – not everything is delivered synchronously when teaching ‘online’. When you teach remotely, you can be located anywhere – at home, in an institute or at a cafe. You are not restricted to teaching, unless you have a stable internet connection and suitable equipment. What I find Ben is describing above is how the industry is dealing with the pandemic (“Remote”) and what online organisations were operating prior to the pandemic (“Online”).
Anyhow, the video is well worth watching as it does raise important questions as well as opportunities that are available for educational institutes.
Getting your first EFL job can be quite a challenge but needn’t be. In this post, we look at how to get your first EFL job after the CELTA and what resources are available. There is also a YouTube video which accompanies this post.
One of the biggest challenges is seeking a position as a newly certified EFL teacher. There are some opportunities available in certain countries which allow new teachers to flourish.
One thing that can trouble teachers is how to teach reading skills in an engaging and interesting way. When I was learning French or German at school, my teachers would give us a block of text – not all that I could understand – some comprehension questions and let us get on with it. Fast forward 25 years, and I have created some techniques to ensure that reading is dynamic and exciting.
One of the benefits of being an English language teacher or involved in TEFL is the opportunity to travel around the world. Not many other jobs offer the opportunity for people to travel, learn about a culture or learn more about the language. One country which is very popular for many EFL teachers is Turkey with its rich and immersive culture. In this post, Emre gives his top ten tips for working in Turkey.
It has been over a year since I last recorded a video for my YouTube Channel – I cannot believe how quick fast time flies. Nevertheless, I have now focused today on recording and editing a video based upon getting students moving around the classroom with five practical tips and techniques. The video is available to watch below.
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I leave this question for you: How do you normally get students moving around the classroom? What do you do to keep learners on their toes?