This pandemic period has propelled the human family into a new way of thinking, working, living and learning. And as it’s opened new possibilities of relying on the internet for employment, social and economic sustainability, so too have TEFL teachers been given greater opportunities to reach the world at the click of a button.
Many traditional in-class teachers have been faced with having to transition to teaching English online. As with any new circumstance, it may take some growing pains until we’re fully settled into the online teaching realm. So here’s some ways to make the seamless transition from the in-class to the online TEFL classroom.
Embrace the Virtual Space
As an online English teacher, no longer are you limited to the same four walls of the physical classroom. You now have creative freedom to teach without being confined to a specific place. Although you’ll have to find a designated, quiet spot in your home or current location (if you’re a travelling TEFL teacher) to teach from, you will always have the freedom to work remotely wherever your feet take you.
Make your virtual classroom and teaching space comfortable and inviting. Decorate your background geared towards the targeted age group (such as young learners) so as to create a fun-filled environment that fosters learning, dress professionally, get a comfortable chair, and of utmost importance: master the technological platform you’re teaching on (such as Zoom , Skype or ClassIn. Practice smooth transitions on these programs and use all their tools (like screen sharing and annotation devices) to your advantage.
Invest in Excellent Equipment
It’s vital to invest in the following quality essentials for the online English classroom:
- Laptop – Ideally Core i5 or i7.
- Webcam – Position the camera at eye level and frame the device so that your head and shoulders are visible, along with plenty of space for TPR, mime and gesture.
- Headset – This helps reduce noise and unwanted feedback.
- Strong internet connection & reliable Internet sources – Check out this blog on back-up power sources.
- Lighting – Such as a ring light placed behind the camera.
Set a Schedule
Unlike traditional classrooms with set working hours, online TEFL teachers have more flexibility when choosing their schedules. However, you are very much at the mercy of different time zones for peak teaching times. Remember, if you intend to teach young learners, the majority will seek lessons after their school hours, and working adults want to be taught English prior to or after their work day. Therefore, you may be working atypical schedules with hours early in the morning or late at night depending on the country, time and student availability.
Adapt to Language and Cultural Differences
Because you’re teaching on the WWW, you’ll be open to many time zones containing learners anxious to learn English. This means that you’ll be teaching students with a variety of L1s (the student’s first language), proficiency levels, nationalities, ages, and learning English for specific purposes. Therefore, each class and every day will be unique and never monotonous.
However, that brings its own set of challenges in having to adapt to their pronunciation and cultural differences. Remember to:
- Remain patient,
- Conduct a needs analysis at their levels,
- Speak slowly and enunciate,
- Be aware of your tone,
- Work on matching your facial expressions to body language, gestures and mime,
- Strive to build rapport and take an interest in their lives and backgrounds.
Not only will students appreciate this effort, but you’ll also teach English more effectively.
The advantage to teaching online is the vast resources at your disposal and which can be quickly searched for at a moment’s notice. What budget-friendly resources do you need for successful online TEFL teaching?
- Games (either digital or online friendly playable games)
- Tangible reward systems – check out these fun ideas ]
- Lesson content – check out one of our favourites: Teachers Pay Teachers
There’s a common misconception that teaching English online is as easy as pulling the ole laptop up to your chest while in bed. But like every job, teaching online requires preparation for each class. Designate time to spruce up your teaching space, make props, plan lessons, brush up on your English theory, research lesson content, or how to address behavioural challenges. Preparation time is a worthwhile investment into your teaching and your students.
How to Become an Online English Teacher
Do you want to join the digital work world by becoming an online English teacher? Start by becoming qualified with one of our internationally accredited online TEFL courses. Course options include the 120-Hour or 220-Hour TESOL Course, with specialisation courses in Teaching Young Learners, Teaching Business English and Job Support. Contact us today to start your journey towards transitioning to the online TEFL classroom.