11 Things You Should Know About Teaching Online

Teaching Online - Veronica
Veronica Stratulat is a TESOL graduate, teacher extraordinaire, and one half of the teaching duo behind ESL Anywhere. She’s based in Toronto and in December she offered a crash course in online teaching for current TESOL students. Here she shares a round up of the top 11 things she’s learned through her teaching adventures.


My Online Teaching Career

A while ago I decided to take on a new challenge and started teaching online. I have taught all ESL levels as well as test preparation classes (IELTS, TOEFL, TOEIC etc.). I had students from countries like China, Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, Vietnam, Brazil, Spain, Ukraine, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Italy, Mexico, Sri Lanka, Argentina or Venezuela. I did not know too much about online teaching and I can say that it hasn’t always been a smooth journey, but certainly one that has been worthwhile. Soon after I set up my own website, I realized that I had a lot to learn and that face-to-face classes are totally different from online classes. Here are a few things I’ve learned while teaching online:

  1. Getting students can be quite challenging. A website and advertising online won’t help you get too many students. Reaching out to former students is a good marketing strategy as they can recommend you to their friends.
  2. Offering free trial classes is not a good idea and I’ve learned this the hard way. Students will gladly take the free trial class and disappear forever.
  3. Although it offers flexibility and comfort, online teaching requires a lot of work. At first I thought that I could use the same handouts but realized that everything had to be adapted for online classes.
  4. Consider time zones! While it might seem easy to jump out of bed and teach in your pyjamas, one must consider time zone differences.
  5. Technology can be a challenge for some students. Not all of them are computer savvy.
  6. It’s important to talk about the payment system before you start the actual classes.
  7. Online students need constant motivation. They tend to lose interest faster than face-to-face students.
  8. Feedback is very important. Online teachers should give and seek feedback on a regular basis.
  9. Be friendly and communicative but also strict. Students love friendly teachers. However, you should set limits and treat all students with respect.
  10. Online tutoring students love personalized lessons. Try to personalize the learning experience and cater to the student’s needs as much as possible.
  11. Top 5 places to advertise your online tutoring classes:
    1. TutorAgent.com
    2. Free classified ads
    3. www.e-maple.com (Japanese online community)
    4. ads.kakao.com (Korean online community)
    5. Teachlingo – ESL Jobs
    6. eslteachersboard.com

My Go-to Resources:

There are tons of resources for ESL teachers nowadays but I couldn’t possibly do my online classes without Skype (the screen sharing feature is fantastic), TitanPad (which can be used as a blackboard) and my binder. I also love The Internet TESL Journal, English Pronunciation from Okanagan College, TEFL.netTEFLtastic and Teach This.

What I Like Best About Online Teaching…

The good thing about online teaching is that it’s comfortable, convenient and it gives you the freedom to set your own schedule. Transitioning from face-to-face classes to online classes can be a challenging process but it’s worth it if you’re looking for flexibility (wherever and whenever you have Internet service, you can teach), want to avoid commuting costs or wish to teach to a wider audience of non-traditional students.

Thank you Veronica! If you would like to connect with Veronica or any of our blog contributors, check-out LinkedIn and get connected!