Undoubtedly, e-learning has provided opportunities for individuals seeking more and more flexibility in their educational pursuits, both as learners and educators. Nonetheless, some students argue that in-person education is more effective due to allowing for multi-sensory engagement. Similarly, certain teachers maintain that traditional lessons are easier to deliver compared to their online counterparts, due to the lack of technical know-how required.
While this criticism may hold some general validity, the TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) industry has set a positive example by exploiting the advantages that remote learning/teaching offers. More specifically, the benefits of learning and teaching at your preferred time and location – and at your own pace – make education and training more accessible for a wider and more diverse audience. If you need clarifications with the many acronyms in this field, look online for TEFL vs TESOL.
It is clear that online teaching has made a considerable impact in modern-day education; therefore, it is imperative that strategies are implemented to maximise its potential. To that end, there are several considerations that teachers should bear in mind before embarking on the journey of online teaching.
Equipment constitutes a crucial aspect, but where should you begin? Primarily, attention should be given to the reliability and speed of your internet connection. Numerous free online tools are available to assess the broadband speed.
Once content with the internet quality, the teaching equipment—such as laptops, microphones, and cameras—should be carefully evaluated. While modern laptops often possess built-in cameras of satisfactory quality, investing in a head-set is advisable to prevent any issues related to external noise.
Consider using an all-in-one computer for online English teaching, as it combines essential components like a high-quality display, powerful processor, and integrated webcam for convenience and efficiency.
It is important to note that exorbitant prices do not always equate to superior quality. For optimal value, comparing prices across different brands and stores and seeking expert advice is recommended. Whichever type of laptop or computer you choose, it’s worth learning about all its features to take full advantage of what it can do for you. To avoid any unpleasant surprises, it is prudent to check the equipment before each lesson and make sure everything is in working order.
The importance of the learning environment may seem self-evident, yet the significance of visual appeal and proper lighting can be easily overlooked. Depending on the age group of learners, incorporating relevant props into the background setup, such as a phonemic chart for pronunciation instruction or puppets for younger students, should be considered.
Lighting should not be neglected. Positioning oneself in a well-lit area near a window to benefit from natural light or strategically placing lamps can significantly enhance engagement and draw attention to hand gestures, body language, and facial expressions.
Effective lesson planning serves as a cornerstone of successful teaching and productive learning. Designing a comprehensive course outline and sharing it with learners and, if applicable, their parents fosters transparency and allows for fruitful discussions and necessary adjustments to meet individual needs.
Each lesson should be introduced with clear objectives and aims. For example, stating, “By the end of this lesson, you will be able to discuss your hobbies.” Referring back to these objectives at the lesson’s conclusion reinforces learners’ awareness of their achievements, thereby bolstering confidence in both the teacher and their own progress. A helpful tip is to avoid overwhelming students by limiting the number of aims per lesson.
Crafting original materials through presentation tools and incorporating engaging activities is highly recommended. Balancing the use of videos and reading texts that students can access in their spare time, which also serve as instructional resources during lessons, is advantageous.
Additionally, integrating production activities like posters or cards that students can create as homework and present in subsequent lessons is encouraged. When seeking inspiration, online repositories of free pre-made lessons can be explored, ensuring their suitability for students in terms of age, proficiency level, and cultural relevance.
Establishing a rapport with students constitutes a vital aspect of effective teaching. Designing lessons around topics of interest to learners and personalising instruction can foster a sense of uniqueness and greater engagement. By taking notes on each student, such as their preferences or areas of struggle, in a notebook or spreadsheet, teachers demonstrate their attentiveness.
Small details, such as correctly pronouncing a student’s name, can leave a lasting impression. Parents, upon recognizing the teacher’s investment in their child, often develop a special connection, resulting in increased re-bookings and positive feedback.
To enhance focus during lessons, providing learners with options, such as allowing them to choose the activity sequence or even selecting the topic for the next lesson, can be beneficial.
The selection of an appropriate platform is paramount. Established online educational institutions generally offer their own e-learning platforms. However, those venturing into this realm independently must determine which platform best suits their needs.
Conducting thorough research, comparing features such as breakout rooms, screen sharing, and whiteboard options, and availing oneself of free trials are prudent measures. To enhance user-friendliness, a multitude of online video tutorials exist for each platform. Utilising the chat tool to share materials, provide individual feedback, and facilitate discussions is a valuable tip.
A solid start
Undeniably, embarking on the path of online teaching can be intimidating. However, adequate preparation significantly eases the process. If not already completed, enrolling in an accredited TEFL course offered by a reputable provider equips teachers with the necessary tools and knowledge to commence instruction with confidence. Additionally, pursuing further training courses serves as an excellent means of exploring specific areas of interest and developing specialised expertise, such as online teaching.