It’s a fact that many teachers are finding themselves teaching ESL online these days instead of in a classroom. Although it’s all teaching English, it certainly is a different experience than being in the classroom.
Top 10 Tips for Teaching ESL Online
If you’re teaching ESL online, here are some tips to do it the awesome way. Read on! Oh, and if you’re looking for what to actually do in the classroom, you’ll want to check this out: Teaching English Online Activities and Games.
#1: Consider Specializing
It’s possible to make a living teaching ESL online as a jack-of-all-trades. However, you may also want to consider specializing in just a few things. For example, the IELTS exam, business English or English job interviews. You’ll be able to give your students a great learning experience and may find that lots of referrals come your way if you do it well.
#2: Ask Students What they Want
One of the best tips for how to teach English, whether online or offline is to ask students what they want to work on with you. Their answers will sometimes be very different from what you might think.
For online teaching, many will say that they want to work on free-talking or conversation for at least part of the class. Others may want to improve their reading skills or get a higher score on an English proficiency exam. Finally, some may be preparing for an English job interview or to travel. The way we teach these students varies greatly and so knowing what students want to learn is important for making decisions about how and what to teach.
#3: Become Familiar With English Proficiency Exams
There are lots of students who want help preparing for a specific English exam like TOEIC, TOEFL or IELTS. If you can specialize in one or more of these and get your students some serious results, you’ll have students lining up to learn from you!
However, something to keep in mind is that these kinds of students are usually for the short-term and will discontinue the classes once their exam is done.
#4: Talk about Expectations with your Student
When asked for tips about how to teach English online, many teachers mention the necessity of talking with student before beginning to set the expectations both parties have of each other. For example, you might want to talk about:
- Cancellation policy
- Types of activities
It’s also wise to regularly check in regularly with students as the class progresses. They’ll often have helpful feedback about what they’d like to change and also what’s working for them.
#5: Students Come and Students Go when Teaching ESL Online
Teaching online requires a bit of a thick skin. Some students will stick with you for years while others will stay for only a very short time.
In some cases, students had a very short-term goal like preparing for an English proficiency exam or an English job interview.
However, others may find another tutor that they like better. This is okay and a normal part of the online teaching experience so don’t dwell too much on it.
That said, if you’re constantly losing students and having a difficult time filling your schedule, reflect a bit more deeply on this. If possible, get a recording of yourself teaching and ask a trusted colleague to review it and offer some feedback.
#6: Invest in some Good Equipment
Trying to teach English online with crappy equipment is an exercise in frustration! At the very minimum, be sure to have:
- A good desk and comfortable chair
- High quality camera and headset/microphone
- Nice background
- Small whiteboard with markers
Don’t forget to have a backup option. Headsets and microphones are especially prone to failing at some point in time so have your old pair at the ready just in case. It’s far better than having to cancel a class due to this technology fail!
#7: Manage Time Well when Teaching ESL Online
Another tip for how to teach ESL online is to manage time well. Stay organized and be sure to give yourself enough time to prepare for classes, evaluate tests or homework and rest too.
If at all possible, try to schedule blocks of classes with small breaks in between instead of an hour here and an hour there. This will allow time for a social life too!
#8: Have Some Fun
Just because you’re on your 10th, 30 minute class that day doesn’t mean that the student is! It’s probably their only session. Yawning, frowning and looking bored certainly won’t get you more booked classes so be peppy and upbeat and if you’re not feeling it, take a break for a day or two or consider teaching fewer classes.
Be encouraging as well! Praise even small improvements regularly.
#9: Be Prepared
When teaching any sort of ESL class, preparation is required! Have at least a basic lesson plan as teaching English is more than just chatting with the student. If you only do this, students will soon wonder what exactly they’re paying for and their English ability may not really improve that much!
#10: Don’t Forget About Assessment
Good teachers regularly assess how their students are doing in order to tailor their lessons more specifically. This is especially easy to do in a 1-1 TEFL class.
Almost all students have a weakness or two among the following things:
There are certainly formal assessment tools, but most teachers will be able to figure this out over a few sessions with a student. For example, maybe the student has a difficult time using irregular verbs in the past, reads extremely slowly and uses very limited vocabulary.
You might even consider using something like the test-teach-test approach:
Did you like these Tips for Teaching ESL Online?
- Amazon Kindle Edition
- Bolen, Jackie (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- 123 Pages - 04/13/2020 (Publication Date)
Yes? Thought so. Then you’ll definitely want to check out this book over on Amazon: 101 Activities and Resources for Teaching English Online. The key to better English classes online is a wide variety of interesting, engaging activities and games and this book will help you get there in style!
The book is available in both digital and print formats. Pick up a copy to keep on the bookshelf in your office to use as a handy reference guide. Or, take the digital version with you to your favourite coffee shop for some lesson planning on the go.
Either way, it’s some ESL teaching online awesome and it’s going to level up your classes in a big way. Check it out on Amazon now:
Have your Say about these Tips for Online ESL Teaching
Do you have any tips or tricks for teaching ESL online effectively? Leave a comment below and let us know what you think. We’d love to hear from you.
Also be sure to give this article a share on Facebook, Pinterest, or Twitter. It’ll help other busy English teachers, like yourself find this useful resource. Oh, and if you need more advice, be sure to check this out: How to Teach English Online.
Last update on 2022-10-15 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API