Online teaching was introduced years ago but has gotten a lot more popular in the last few months. Since classes were forced to be held online over the past few months, both students and teachers have had to adjust to a new set of rules and norms that certainly took some getting used to. But with a few months in, you start to realize that the advantages of online teaching may very well combat its drawbacks.
For starters, you no longer are restricted to the 30 students in your given classroom but have the opportunity to teach anyone, irrespective of location. Plus, you get to do it from the comfort of your home and around a more relaxed schedule. But much like any other job, there are guidelines for teaching English online that help make the experience all the more beneficial to you and your students.
Here are 5 key tips on how to teach English online:
Find an Audience
To ensure that you maintain your position as an online English teacher, you need to have a stable audience. Lots of organizations nowadays, such as VipKid, Lingoda, and English First, offer online teaching jobs where you can sign a contract to teach English on their platform.
You can create your own schedule, and they also provide additional support on how to teach English online. This is the most reliable way to make sure you have students to teach.
You can also sign up on freelance websites or find students on your own. In this case, you need to make sure that the website you are registering on is authentic and has enough potentially interested viewers.
If you already have teaching experience, finding students on your own is not hard, but if not, it can be challenging, so online websites may be the best option for you. You could also set up your own website to teach English online and create videos and handbooks to sell.
Know Your Audience and Make Connections
Much like a regular classroom, it is important to know your students and connect with each of them. But in a virtual setting, it is no doubt harder to make personal connections, so you may need to put in some extra effort to do so.
Whether your sessions are grouped or one-on-one, you are seeing a number of students only on a screen for a few hours per day, so it is also harder for them to stay focused and learn. Keep this in mind while you teach, so you actively try to form connections and stimulate the learning environment.
It is hard to keep track of each and every student you teach, so keep a book where you can write down notes about each one’s progress, learning struggles, or even conversations where they tell you about themselves. This way, an ongoing rapport with the student flows a lot easier.
Good Quality Audio and Video
When you pay for a service, you want to get the most out of it. Similarly, when you have an online English teaching job and students sign up to learn with you, they want to be learning as efficiently as they can, so invest in tools that’ll help you do just that. Make sure you have a fast and stable internet connection to avoid any lags in the video.
Invest in a good quality headset and mic, so your voice is audible, and you can hear your students well. Your camera needs to deliver clear video too. Teach your online classes through Zoom or Google Meet rather than Skype, so you face lesser issues with connectivity or freezing.
You are not in control of the students’ environment, so do all that you can from your end to ensure you are getting through to them. The equipment may cost a few extra bucks, but it will pay off when students continue to attend lessons that they are learning well from due to these investments.
Working from home does bring about a change in your daily routine, but you still need to present yourself professionally. Make sure you look energetic and are happy to be teaching the class. Students are more motivated to learn when they know you are invested in them.
Start each class with a plan in mind – you get to teach them however you think is best, so use that to your advantage and have fun with it.
Set a daily schedule for yourself so you can follow it and manage your time properly. Sometimes, missing a class is unavoidable due to factors like power cuts or technical problems, but if you are missing classes often when in a contract with an online company, it wouldn’t be taken lightly.
You do have the luxury of working in any place but setting up a designated spot with a good desk and chair is the way to go. Not only does it show a sense of order and professionalism, but you are also more focused when you’re in that space.
Payment and Cancellations
Online teaching companies have a base pay as well as incentives, so once you are in a contract with them, getting paid is easier. You are paid per class, so the more you get to teach English online, the more money you can make.
If you are a freelance online teacher, you would need to take things into your own hands, so set up your base rate and make that known to potential parties. You could have a clear payment plan and cancellation policy on your website.
If you don’t have a website, email your clients and let them know all the necessary details. A cancellation policy would make sure you’re not losing anything due to last-minute changes.
If you are looking into how to teach English online, these 5 points would have made things a lot clearer. You may have to make changes to your teaching methods and step out of your comfort zone sometimes, but there has never been a better time to teach classes online.