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! 

Teaching Online

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This week TESOL grad Rabia Rashid shares her adventures in teaching online.

 

What I Love Most About Teaching Online…

Teaching online was a very unique experience for me when I first started a year ago. At first the very thought of an online classroom made me feel intimidated, as I had never been an online student myself. But as I started teaching online, in half hour sessions, I felt that its perks were more than the challenges. My two favourites are: firstly, you can teach in your PJs. I simply love it! You don’t need to think about your looks or your (un)organized room/desk. Second, you teach one on one. This is one of the big reasons I stuck to online teaching! As a traditional classroom teacher, no matter how much you wish, you can’t completely address the individual needs of your students due to time constraints and many other factors. Online teaching gives you the opportunity to tailor a lesson for each individual student’s needs.

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Online teaching needs a lot of learning; not just the content, but also learning to solve technical issues. As an online teacher, I sometimes wish I was better at solving technical issues, such as safer options to download material or online sharing applications. When I first starting teaching online, I thought I knew a lot about technology – I could use Microsoft tools, Edmodo, Skype, Google Drive, Share, Chat, Docs etc. But what I didn’t know was how to problem solve a bad connection while I was teaching, or why a media file wasn’t playing. I have many friends who whizz through technology while teaching, and can provide quick fix solutions so that a class session is not interrupted, so now thanks to them, they have been guiding me and are there to help whenever I need them. So to be a successful online teacher, it is essential that you know basics of technical problem solving (and find some colleagues who can help you troubleshoot!).

On Resources…

Many teachers think that only good planning enables successful teaching; I think a good resource bank to count on is important too. As much as I know, there is a jungle out there of online teaching resources and as a new teacher you could be overwhelmed with the abundance. However, I have learnt with experience that identifying a resource that is absolutely necessary to achieve the students’ learning goals is the key. It takes investment of time (which would probably unpaid) to build a bank of your favourite resources. The best resources have to be the ones that are closest to the students’ field of interest and the ones that keep them engaged. I find the podcasts very useful for ESL learners at all levels and media giants like CBC and BBC have awesome resources that are authentic, current and easy to use. Another good resource to invest in is the ESL library – they have great, thematic and graded resources. Great teachers use resources that help their students achieve their goals and spend time in adapting them to their class needs.

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The Future of Online Teaching…

With the ever-evolving media and technology, online education has a greater scope. In my opinion it caters the education for all needs, which inspires hope in the next generation.

Looking into the future of online education, it is about time that we take the next step; to prepare ourselves and the next teaching generation for online teaching as a viable way to provide flexible education to more and more people. It takes a lot of hard work and preparation but the results are instantaneous, as you can experience continuous assessment, immediate results and on-the-spot-problem solving. Moreover, it is a great way to reduce the space issues at bigger institutions if they offer online programs as well as create more jobs in the field of education.

Links to the websites:

Thanks for sharing Rabia, we wish you all the best with your teaching journey! If you would like to connect with Rabia, you can find her through LinkedIn

Adventures in Teaching in South Korea – TESOL Grad Jugwinder Gill on his First Year of Teaching

sunny-gill-8Jugwinder Gill graduated from the TESOL program in 2015 and immediately moved to Korea to begin his very first teaching job. Here he shares some of his adventures and advice for the newly-minted teacher. 

Hello! My name is Jugwinder Gill and I’m a TESOL certified English teacher currently teaching in South Korea. I am presently living in a city called Icheon, which is about an hour away from Seoul, the capital of Korea. I have been here for almost 10 months, and so far, I have to say it has been extraordinary. Presently, I am having a wonderful time teaching young learners while exploring the country of Korea and all that it has to offer.

While I’ve been in Korea I have learned many things as a new teacher. I realized that the most important lessons come when co-teaching with another teacher. I have learned to be patient with my co-workers, especially because miscommunication happens regularly. I’ve also learned that it is extremely important that I always give every new person I meet the benefit of the doubt, because when two people come from different cultures, there will always be a need for different forms of interaction. Moreover, it’s not hard to notice that many Koreans are usually more curious of you more than you are of them. I’ve also learned to listen and balance my teaching with my school’s expectations and the national curriculum that needs to be followed.

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But besides school life, I have learned to try my best to adapt to Korea as much as possible. Koreans love to party, while also working long dreadful hours. So as a foreigner, I always try to trust my instincts, go with the flow and “do as the Koreans do”, whether at work or out socializing.

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The Three Resources I Can’t Live Without:

  • Waygook.org – A website dedicated solely for English teachers in Korea. It has a micro-blog where teachers can post threads, along with vast amounts of shared teacher-to-teacher material that has proven quite useful.
  • Pinterest.com – A great place to find something small to supplement a lesson plan. Also a great place to find arts and craft activities.
  • Youtube.com – A great site to find small videos to use and show and explain something new to students. I used a small clip from “The Nightmare Before Christmas” to show the my kids something scary when teaching them about Halloween.

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Advice for New Teachers:

If you’re lucky enough to come to Korea and work in a public school, please try your best to take advantage of the training that is offered to guest foreign English teachers. Most of the time, this is the only chance you will get to interact with experienced foreign teachers and get valuable feedback as well as additional information about other resources that you might want draw upon in the future. If you work as a public school teacher, you will have a standard curriculum to follow and this curriculum will keep you busy, so there is usually no need to add extra materials to your lesson plans, but having a few good activities will definitely help when you need them.. The simplest form of advice I would recommend would be to trust your instincts when planning your lessons and not to be afraid to cut things out when you think you’re running out of time. Always trust your intuition and you will find success as an English teacher. Good luck!

Thank you Jugwinder! We wish you all the best on your teaching journey! If you would like to connect with Jugwinder to find out more about teaching in Korea, you can contact him via LinkedIn