How English Teaching Should be Adjusted to Online Learning?
Teaching English online has long become a worldwide trend, and that holds no surprise as it is easy, cheap, global, and requires no more than a computer and a stable internet connection. However, it also holds a lot of potential problems, such as adapting the learning materials for the online classroom or keeping students engaged and building rapport. In this essay, I am going to look at these problems in detail and suggest tools to solve them.
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Alevtina B. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
Adapting materials and activities
As all online teachers know, adapting teaching materials can be an issue. Simply printing out handouts or reading materials is not an option, and all materials must be presented in the online form: either sent to the student before the lesson to be saved or printed out or shown during the lesson.
Providing materials before the lesson can present a challenge as the teacher will need to explain in detail which of the sent materials should be used at each point during the lesson. Besides, it is hard to monitor the speed with which the student is reading or doing exercises (especially if there are many students in the online classroom).
How to solve the problem?
However, there are several ways to solve these problems, such as showing materials (e.g. reading materials) via the screen-sharing function, so that the teacher controls what all the students can see at each point of the lesson, or sharing exercise forms as Google Docs where the students can print their answers to be seen by them and the teacher simultaneously.
Also, a major advantage of teaching online is the Chatbox function, which exists in all the platforms. It allows the teacher to get answers or feedback quickly and from all the students, not just from the strongest or most confident ones.
Also Read: 7 Important Questions about Business English
Another problem which online teaching presents are building rapport, both between the students and between the students and the teacher.
First of all, students in online groups rarely know each other, sometimes they do not share the same background, such as being in the same class in one school, and, in some cases, they are not even of the same nationality or age. To make matters worse, online learning does not provide any room for communication between students, apart from that initiated by the teacher during the lesson. Overall, students may be unfamiliar and uncomfortable with each other, and the dynamics of the class might be influenced.
As a result, it is extremely important to encourage communication in and out of class. Apart from using the general techniques for building rapport, discussed in the TEFL course, such as implementing questionnaires, pair or group work, which can be organized through the Breakout Rooms function on different platforms, it might be a good idea to organize interaction between students in the form of an online chat on Whatsapp or other platforms, where they would be able to get to know each other in their free time and, hopefully, become a community.
How to solve the problem?
As for the problem of building rapport between the teacher and the students, more emphasis should be given to rapport-building activities (e.g. involving the teacher giving out information about himself or herself), as well as smiling and using more gestures or props to compensate for the lack of movement and body language.
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Overall, online teaching certainly presents a lot of problems compared to teaching offline. However, there are even more tools to solve these problems and even make the lesson more interactive, engaging, and fun than it could be offline.
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