How to Teach English Online from Home - Part 8: Tips And Tricks

E-learning platforms provide lots of benefits for those who want to teach English online from home (or other foreign languages) in a virtual classroom. While online tutoring may resemble the learning experience in traditional classrooms, it has some particularities of its own.

How to get the best results when working from home as an online English teacher?

When you teach English online from home, encourage your students to speak

Studying in an e-learning environment helps students to be fully present in class. In order to learn a foreign language, one’s mind has to pay attention to many factors in the classroom. The learning environment is a blend of information and understanding, nuance, voice, attitude, etc. I like to compare teaching a foreign language to a theatrical performance. English tutors not only have to deliver the message, but they also need to present it in an aesthetically pleasing manner.

Learning to speak the language has proven to be the hardest part of any language class. This is also true for virtual lessons when you teach English online from home. Compared to the traditional classroom, a teacher can have much greater success in oral activities performed in the virtual classroom. Why?

This is due to the fact that every student is attending the English lessons from the comfort of their own home (or another type of secure environment) where they can deliver their speech or participate orally in the virtual classroom. This shift between a safe/intimate environment and social/performing activities is one of the best simulations of a real situation. Therefore, when you teach English online don’t hesitate to make your students speak. For once speaking activities will not be skipped in class and students will be more excited to participate!

How to immerse yourself in the language when you teach English online from home

We can compare learning the English language (or another foreign language) to exploring an unknown land. Student presence and attention are the most important factors in this situation. When studying in an e-learning environment, the students’ perception of the teacher and of themselves is similar to the way they perceive videos or live streams on YouTube.

Nowadays, each one of us can be virtually anywhere in the world by using technology and social media. And one of the key resources for the foreign language learner is video content. In this way they can be literally immersed in the space where this foreign language is practiced.

Not only can they hear the voice and intonation, but they can also see the facial expressions and the body language of the native speaker. Students can see the surroundings and walk down city streets or through the countryside in order to get to know the country better. In terms of passive activities that are useful for learning, like comprehension, these resources are much more effective than good old reading and listening.

I am not saying that students shouldn’t read. Literary excerpts, articles, and all types of original native-speaker content should be used when you teach English online from home. However, at the same time, students are living in a world and experiencing a learning situation that is quite similar to what technology offers on social media. And we all know that technology is getting closer and closer to everyday life. This means that anyone seeking authentic experiences can find them more easily.

Using quizzes and questionnaires in the lessons when you teach English online from home

Assessing students, teachers, and the course itself has never been easier, especially in the virtual classroom. You can use questionnaires to:

  • Conduct surveys
  • Ask students for their expectations before the beginning of the course
  • Get feedback at the end of the course on how students felt throughout

But that is not all. When you teach English online from home, quizzes are really useful whenever you feel that students aren’t progressing at the same speed. The course itself may need some adjustments and a new direction because of the students’ different learning styles, for example. A quiz will guide you toward the right action to take.

Quizzes can be used not only for theoretical knowledge, but for training as well. Teachers can assign a text to read and the quiz can check student comprehension. Tutors can also use matching and drag-and-drop activities to illustrate a rule or just to add some practice for a given rule.

Context is everything when you teach English online at home

An e-learning environment will not appeal to students by its innovative features alone, although they sure are useful. The teacher can, and should, create and design the course in such a way that it reflects their personality, their teaching style, and the goals of the course itself.

When you teach English online from home (or other foreign languages) , context is everything. In order to learn, students need to step out of their comfort zones. As we already mentioned, they have to learn to be able to imitate intonations and body language. In short, they have to create a new persona for their new knowledge – that of a foreign language.

For many of the students this is demotivating. Some may even drop out because they feel they don’t fit in with the group or the atmosphere doesn’t appeal to them.

An online course has many aspects that are reassuring, starting from its color scheme and fonts, to the design of the lessons and activities, and all the way down to all of the smallest details. The ability to personalize almost every feature of a course to teach English online from home is a way for the tutor to accentuate the value of their work. Students will no longer miss the important parts of a lesson and they will get the feeling that they are improving with every class.

TABLE OF CONTENT:

  1. When you teach English online from home, encourage your students to speak
  2. How to immerse yourself in the language when you teach English online from home
  3. Using quizzes and questionnaires in the lessons when you teach English online from home
  4. Context is everything when you teach English online at home

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Emanuela Svilarova is assistant-professor in French as a foreign language at Sofia University "St Kliment Ohridski". Her activity includes classes for beginners up to Advanced - B2 levels, and classes in French for specialized domains - humanities, economics. Apart from language teaching, her fields of interest include French and Bulgarian contemporary literature and comparative literature. She has participated in the creation of textbooks for high schools of intensive French classes, the handbook "Laughter in class" and in various teaching- and learning-oriented projects.
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